Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Tis the Season for Gingerbread

Now that Farmer Appreciation Day (with Mrs. Obach's Grade 1 class) and our dinosaur project-based learning have drawn to a close, I felt it was time for something seasonal and simple. So I pulled out some of my favourite Christmas activities featuring gingerbread!

What have we done so far?
ELA: We've read two favourite Jan Brett books--Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends. After reading the books aloud several times, we really enjoyed watching Jan Brett reading Gingerbread Baby and making gingerbread on YouTube. Next we will work on retelling and dramatizing the story using the character masks available from Jan Brett's website. This photograph shows how absolutely riveted my kids were by the large foldout picture in the back of Gingerbread Friends. They poured over it for a good five minutes!
 Retelling: I modified this learning experience available at SMART Exchange. The story timeline was an excellent tool for ordering when the characters appeared and modelling oral retellings. Once the students were confident in how to retell a story, we made our own gingerbread houses out of paper bags and cut out little cards with the characters on them. We used this tool to do our own retellings to partners and Mrs. Caldwell. I was very impressed with the students' abilities to retell a story. Some even included dialogue from the actual book!
Writing: Our next project will be reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and writing our own version, Gingerbread Baby, Gingerbread Baby, What Do You See? The blackline master for the student book is available here.

Numeracy: Using 11 foam gingerbread cutouts from the dollar store, I numbered each one from 0-10. We practiced ordering the gingerbread men to make a number line. Then I set up centres around the room where students had to read the numeral printed on the gingerbread man, then place the correct number of buttons on its chest.

 For the next activity, I turned the gingerbread men face down to show the blank side. I placed a number of buttons on each gingerbread man from 0-10. A white board and dry erase marker was positioned underneath. Students moved from station to station, counting the buttons and printing the corresponding numerals.
We are also enjoying using this app on our iPads...Gingerbread Doodle allows us to pretend that we are baking and decorating a variety of gingerbread treats. And what would a gingerbread theme be without baking real gingerbread men? A parent volunteer is coming in next week for an afternoon of baking!

So there you have it... sometimes it's refreshing to return to the basics amid Christmas time craziness. My young learners have been very engaged throughout these learning experiences while acquiring important basic skills. Merry Christmas and enjoy some well-deserved holidays, teacher friends!

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