The Gingerbread Friend Is Loose!
- Grades: PreK–K
- Unit Plan:
Your class will become familiar with various places and the people who work in the school neighborhood. Students will compare and contrast, learn and use measurement, and understand that print has a purpose.
- Listen to the story of The Gingerbread Man.
- Compare the story's neighbors and neighborhoods with those of their school.
- Retell the story of The Gingerbread Man.
- Help to make Gingerbread Friends.
- Explore the school neighborhood.
- Practice oral storytelling in a class-shared experience story.
- Help to create a class book.
- The Gingerbread Man (I use the version by Cynthia Rylant)
- Gingerbread Friends Baker's Dough Recipe (PDF)
- Baking tools (mixing bowl, large spoon, mixing cups, rolling pin, gingerbread man cookie cutter, spatula, two or more cookie sheets)
- Dough ingredients (flour, salt, water, ginger, cinnamon and cloves)
- Wax paper
- Watercolor (or acrylic) paints and watercolor brushes or markers
- Clear varnish or polyurethane spray
- Access to an oven or the ability to take them home to bake
- Gingerbread Friend Notes to the Children (PDF)
- A large map of the school community with landmarks noted (school, businesses, streets)
- Stick pins
- Yellow highlighter
- Black permanent marker
- Individual copies of maps with highlighted walking path through school neighborhood
- Student Writing Pages for Class Book (PDF)
- Small brown paper lunch bag for each student
- Parent Letter (PDF)
- Permission slips for walking field trip
Set Up and Prepare
- Baking Center
- Two-feet long wax paper sheets
- One-half paper clip (to create a hook) for each student
- One 12 " ribbon for each student
- Large neighborhood map
- Copies of small map for each student
- Copies of Student Writing page for each student
- Copies of Parent Letter for each student
- Signed Permission Slips for walking field trip around school neighborhood
- Arrange with neighborhood locations to visit them on DAY 3.
- Arrange to have someone set up all the Gingerbread Friends in your classroom during the walking field trip.
- Leave a Gingerbread Friends note with the location (or one similar in your school's neighborhood) indicated in printable.
Step 1: Gather the children for a whole group discussion. Ask them if they have ever heard the story The Gingerbread Man. Read the story and discuss the neighborhood where the Gingerbread Man lives. Ask: How is it the same as or different from our school neighborhood? Who are the neighbors that the Gingerbread Man ran away from? Are they the same neighbors we have in our community?
Step 2: Sit the children in a circle and retell the story of The Gingerbread Man. Each child in the circle should add to the story in the retelling until the end.
Step 1: Tell students that today they are going to be bakers and make Gingerbread Friends (not necessarily gingerbread men or women). Inform the children that because you want them to have their own Gingerbread Friend, they are going to make non-edible cookies. (We have a "healthy snacks" policy at our school and I work toward discouraging sweets in the classroom.) Show the students what bakers need: recipe, tools, and ingredients.
Step 2: In small groups, let children explore the materials, mix the dough, and cut out Gingerbread Friends. Encourage them to use their senses and get messy! Let them place a paperclip hook in the top. Stack the cookies up with wax paper between the layers. It won't matter whose cookie is whose until the students decorate them.
Step 3: At lunchtime, take the Gingerbread Friends to the cafeteria. Have one cookie sheet with the Gingerbread Friends ready to be baked. Show the children how you set the oven and put the gingerbread in just like the little old woman did in the story. Tell them that you'll return to get the Friends the next morning. (You can take also them home and bake them later that day.)
Step 1: The next morning, take the children into the cafeteria to get the Gingerbread Friends. Open the oven and let students discover that the Gingerbread Friends have run away! Read the Note from the Gingerbread Friends(PDF) and ask them what they think they should do. They will probably want to go find the Gingerbread Friends.
Step 2: Go back to the room and point out features on the large neighborhood map. Distribute the student maps and show them the highlighted path they will take through the school neighborhood. Be sure to indicate the places they will look for the Gingerbread Friends. The week before, I arrange to visit the Principal's office, a grocery store, a shoe store, a bakery, and a restaurant. You may arrange to visit similar neighborhood businesses in your school neighborhood.
Step 3: Walk around the neighborhood using the map and look for the Gingerbread Friends. Visit five or six locations. At each stop along the way, meet the neighbors who work there and briefly talk with them about what they do. Have the children ask the neighbor if they have seen the Gingerbread Friends. The neighbor will say "no" and hand the children a note from the Friends (see printable). Take a picture of the neighbor with the children. Continue until all the neighborhood locations have been visited.
Step 4: Return to the classroom to find all the Gingerbread Friends waiting for the children with a note (see printable). Celebrate by sharing another variation of The Gingerbread Man story.
Some possibilities from the Teacher Store are:
These may be found in your school library:
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski
The Cajun Gingerbread Boy by Berthe Amoss
Step 1: Ask students to choose a Gingerbread Friend and write their names on the back with a permanent marker.
Step 2: Invite the children to decorate their Friends with paint or markers. Paint or spray them with a clear varnish or a polyurethane spray.
Step 3: When dry, tie a ribbon onto the paper clip hook. Then you can hang them in the classroom. Use them for holiday decorations in December, if appropriate.
Step 1: Gather students in a circle with their Gingerbread Friends. Remind them how earlier in the week they retold the story of The Gingerbread Man together. Tell them that today they're going to tell the story of what happened with their Gingerbread Friends, beginning with how they made them. Model the beginning of the story by discussing the day they were "bakers." Go around the circle and encourage each child to participate.
Step 2: Share with students that many times stories are told this way, from one family member to another or from one friend to another. Tell the children that it is also good to write a story so that others can read it over and over. Distribute a Student Writing page (PDF) to each student. Go back around the circle and remind the children which part they relayed and invite them to draw a picture and/or write about it.
Step 3: Gather the student pages together and bind them into a book. Have one child make a cover with the title, "The Gingerbread Friends." Read the story with the children and place it in the classroom library to be enjoyed again and again.
Supporting All Learners
Assist children in the oral discussion as needed. Some children may only be able to use gestures or a few words. Encourage those who are ready to write words for their stories, either by labeling or writing a sentence. Take dictation for those children not yet ready to write.
Step 1: Make a bulletin board with the photos of the places visited and the notes the Gingerbread Friends left. Hang the Gingerbread Friends around the edges.
Step 2: Write thank you letters to the various people you met in the neighborhood. Include photos of the children with their Gingerbread Friends.
Read other versions of The Gingerbread Man to the children. When you are ready to send the Gingerbread Friends home, have the children make a gingerbread house for their Friend by decorating a brown paper lunch bag. Send the bags home with the Parent Letter (PDF), and ask parents to use the Gingerbread Friends to discuss the story of The Gingerbread Man with their children.
- Make a Gingerbread Friend.
- Contribute a page to a class book.
- Were children able to retell a familiar story?
- Were students able to compare and contrast?
- Were children able to cooperate and share in making the cookies?
- Did students feel successful in decorating their Gingerbread Friend?
- Were children able to tell a story about a shared experience?
- Were students able to draw and/or write about the experience?
- How might I do this lesson differently next time?
Observe students' oral retelling of The Gingerbread Man and when storytelling the classes' shared experience. Look to see if their illustrations for the class book matches what they said or wrote. Check to see which students are using letters or words.