We are in week two of the Gingerbread Man Takes Over Kindergarten. I honestly was not aware of how many different versions of this classic folktale there are. Last week we began the unit by reading a different version of the Gingerbread Man and his aliases each day. We have been making a very large picture graph of all the characters from each story. You can see the beginnings of it from last week's post.
Now that my students have learned some sight words, we are practicing what we have learned. My students get so excited when we “read the room.” This is where I display our sight words around the classroom. I put the words on numbered cards that go with the theme we are working on. Students have a numbered list with a fill-in area next to each number. They write the word they find on the wall in the blank next to the corresponding number on their list. This week they had ten sight words to find.
I have written several different pocket chart versions of the story using some of the basic sight words we have learned. My students like to come up to the pocket chart and read the simple text to the class. We also use cards with pictures of the characters to retell the story. In addition to reading the basic text of the story, I have a few poems we read as well. The poem below combines math with reading.
Five Little Gingerbread Men
Five little gingerbread men lying in a pan. (Changes to 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 with each repetition.)
One jumped up and ran, ran, ran.
Catch me, catch me, catch me if you can!
You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!
Lately, we have been working on story retelling. Being able to retell "The Gingerbread Man" is one of our end-of-the-year assessments. I created some simple stick puppets and a gingerbread house as props for the students to use during their retelling. I also found a great song that the students can use to help them practice. It is called "The Gingerbread Man," and it is from Jack Hartmann’s Shake, Rattle n’ Read CD. This has been a big favorite in our classroom.
We couldn’t be learning about the gingerbread man without tasting gingerbread cookies. Each student was given a little man to taste, and then we created a class graph to chart the students' evaluations. To my surprise, 100 percent of the students liked gingerbread. I’m sure they like the men because they were cute and had delicious frosting embellishments.
Last week we also incorporated the gingerbread man into our math work stations. In one station, students worked together to place the gingerbread men in numerical order. In another station, the students practiced counting out gingerbread cookies onto the baking sheet, using a spatula to transfer the cookies.
We also made gingerbread houses. These weren’t your typical ones that most classes make using milk cartons as the base to hold the graham crackers. Instead we made flat houses so they could be transported home inside a Ziploc bag.
I gave each student a whole graham cracker and two smaller pieces to use for the roof. Each student had his or her very own portion cups, one holding the frosting and the other holding candy. I instructed my students not to taste the supplies, and largely they obeyed. However, a few finger-lickers dipped into their frosting cups, which is a good reason to give each student their own supplies. The techniques the students used to create their houses differed. Some smeared frosting all over the place and then added candy. Others frosted each piece of candy and then placed it on their graham cracker. In the end some of the creations resembled houses and others looked like the creator had had a lot of fun with frosting. Either way, the kids couldn’t wait to take them home to eat.
It wouldn’t be the Kindergarten Gingerbread Man Experience without having a life-size cookie run away. So, to end our weeks of gingerbread craziness, I brought in a large cookie I had baked and decorated. In our class, my students know that treats are always enjoyed after lunch. However, while the students were at lunch, I had hidden the cookie in a closet and left a note in its place. With the help of a parent volunteer, a few teachers, and our office secretary, I had arranged for the students to follow clues that would lead them around the school in search of the Gingerbread Man. Upon returning from lunch all they found were a few crumbs and a note that read, “I didn’t want to be a snack, you’ll never, ever get me back. Now you must go and look in the place that has lots of books.” Instantly my students guessed the school library. When they arrived at the library they found a second note with another clue. In each place a new clue was found as to where he might have gone. After the library, we followed the clues that lead us to the lunchroom, the school office, and our reading buddies' classroom, before finally returning to our classroom to find him sleeping in the closet.
They were so excited to chase and finally catch him that I think some truly thought he had run away.
Chasing our gingerbread man, catching him, and eating him was a great way to end our adventures with this fictional folktale character. With so many versions of the story and so many different ways to incorporate the gingerbread man into the curriculum, it would be quite easy to spend more than two weeks using this folktale. I hope you have found some great ideas and resources for creating your own gingerbread man experience with your students.