- Writing for Edutopia, elementary math consultant Jeannie Curtis details how a gingerbread house project can keep 4th-graders engaged in the lead-up to winter break while reinforcing lessons around geometry and encouraging creative thinking.
- "The Great Gingerbread House Project" typically takes a week and uses graham crackers for simplicity due to their consistent shape and low cost, 1x1cm grid paper, and base 10 blocks — in addition to whatever sort of frosting is used as an adhesive to hold everything together.
- Before any building occurs, students go through several rounds of drafts and final copies to solidify a design in pairs, developing floor plans with dimensions labeled, detailed math for areas and perimeters, and front- and side- view concept drawings while using multiplication, addition and fractions.
Keeping students engaged in the lead-up to a holiday can be a difficult task, as they'll inevitably become anxious in anticipation of off-days. But there are a number of ways educators can make learning fun while not veering away from what needs to be done.
Case in point: The humble hand turkey. As we recently detailed in our monthly "Recess" column, a seemingly throwaway activity leading into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend can be adjusted to teach students new skills around design, creativity, tech use, and storytelling. With creative thinking in greater demand from employers, finding ways to encourage it via the meshing of various aspects of the arts into formal instruction becomes all the more important, and these seasonal activities often provide the perfect means to do so.