What is better than making cookies at school? Answer: nothing.
This December, we read “The Gingerbread Man” in speech. Keep reading to find out more about the awesomeness that followed.
I love, love, love to bring my stories to life. The Gingerbread Man has minimal characters, making it very easy to gather some story props.
I printed and laminated a Gingerbread Man, but I think next year I am going to look for a plastic or wooden one instead. The animals and block house were gathered from sets I already had. Here is how I used these props during the story.
-While I read, the props helped students answer comprehension questions. Having visual and tactile cues is important for students who cannot yet answer questions about stories on their own.
-After the story, students took turns acting out main events. My older students wrote down the information on a story telling chart. Again, the props were really helpful in facilitating recall.
After we read the story, the students decorated gingerbread cookies with frosting and chocolate chips. Ordinarily I am not a huge fan of sweets in school, but I do think that teaching kids that treats are okay once in a while is important. Before we made the cookies, I reminded my kids that sometimes on special occasions we can have a treat. We talked about what can happen if we have too many sweets, and what healthy foods we should be eating most of the time.
So how did we target speech and language?
-The students practiced following simple directions. For example “Tommy, please get two plates and place them on the table.”
-I asked students to describe the flavors to me. For example, the frosting was sweet, the cookie was spicy, the chocolate chips were…chocolatey?
-Some students were able to “earn” supplies for their cookie by saying articulation words.
Last but not least, we made a dramatic play center in one of our classrooms to let the students practice “baking.” Here are some of the items we included in the center:
- Baking Sheet
- Muffin Tins
- Cupcake Liners
- Cookie Cutters
- Rolling Pin
- Play Dough
I also made an oven out of cardboard, but sadly, it did not survive several days of play and I wasn’t able to get a picture.
As the sweet smell of gingerbread cookies lingered in my office at the end of the week, I realized that I may have been having just as much fun as my students. It is easy to get caught up in the pressure to constantly do awesome, beautiful, pintrest-inspired activities. Although there is nothing wrong with these activities (and I have certainly done many), it is also important to remember that sometimes keeping things simple and natural just seems to work. I often rely heavily on realistic, low-maintenance activities that allow me to focus on observing and teaching my students, rather than on planning and preparing. I hope to continue to document these activities so that others can emulate them with their own students.
Cheers to a very happy new year!