One of my favorite weeks all year is my Gingerbread Week. I love reading all the different versions – there are actually so many different versions I know I just touch the surface! The students absolutely love doing fun activities throughout the day. Towards the end of December, students are tired of school, they have many feelings about the upcoming holidays and vacation, and frankly, so are the teachers! This is why it is the perfect time of year for a Gingerbread Week! For your convenience, all the books are linked to amazon with an affiliate link.
The Classic Gingerbread Versions
We always start out Gingerbread week with two of the most classic versions –The Gingerbread Boy and The Gingerbread Man. The two classic versions differ in how the fox tricks the gingerbread man, and some of the characters along the way. I want to make sure that all my students, no matter their background knowledge of the Gingerbread Man stories, have a good understanding of the structure of the story. We compare and contrast these two versions with each other and with the many other versions that we will read. I also love to give my students lots of opportunities to retell this story. They make their own emergent reader, complete a retelling worksheet, and/or create retelling sticks.
The Missing Gingerbread
My old students always remember how the gingerbread man ran away from our book. It is probably the best part of the whole week. There are two versions, that I have found, The Gingerbread Man Loose at School and Catch That Cookie, that tell the story of a gingerbread man running away from the classroom. I usually read them both, but in the last page of the last book, I put a note “from the gingerbread man”. The note says, “I’ve run away to see the school, catch me if you can”. Then the students get all excited and really believe he ran away.
They all make wanted posters and I hang them up around the school. I always do this activity second, so that there is some time for the students to wonder and keep looking for the missing gingerbread man. The strength of their imagination always amazes me here – they come running up to me to tell me they definitely saw the gingerbread man running in the bathroom or in the cafeteria, and they really believe it!
A few days later, a note will appear in our classroom from the gingerbread man. This note will lead us on a scavenger hunt to my principals’ office where she gives us our final letter, which says the gingerbread man went back to his book, where he belongs. However, before returning to his book, he always leaves a present for us!
The Gingerbread Girl
My students definitely pick up on the fact that all the versions we read are boys and the girls are disappointed that they aren’t represented in the books. So, I was so excited to find a gingerbread girl version! Not only is a girl the main character this time, but she fights back on the stereotypes of the helpless female character in so many fairy tales. This gingerbread girl actually outfoxes the fox! This is also the only version that the gingerbread survives the ending. The students love seeing how the ending can change. I always ask my students how they would catch the gingerbread girl, and then we compare and contrast the gingerbread girl from the gingerbread boy. If you want to try out these gingerbread activities, ALL the gingerbread girl activities are free!
The MANY Other Versions
There are just too many amazing versions of the story – we definitely do not have time for them all! Some of my favorite books are the Jan Brett versions, because the illustrations are just so beautiful! I love reading The Gingerbread Cowboy to show how the same story line can take place in a different setting with different characters. The Runaway Dreidel and Runaway Wok are great connections to other holidays. Probably my all-time favorite version of a gingerbread story is Stop That Pickle! In this version, a pickle is running away from all these foods trying to eat him. Then he meets a human and…. well, I won’t spoil the ending but let’s just see you won’t have seen it coming!
Fun Extra Activities
There are several activities that I like to sprinkle in throughout the week, because they are just general gingerbread activities. My students love to create their own version or write about what would happen if they were a gingerbread cookie in one of these stories. They also love to decorate their own cookies and make gingerbread puppets (we are a food-free school, so this decorating is just with paper and guess what- it’s a freebie!). Finally, in math, I always put out a roll-a-gingerbread-cookie activity where the students roll the dice to see what part of the gingerbread cookie they will be adding. They love to be silly and add so many body parts multiple times each time they roll that number and then see what the gingerbread cookie will look like.
If you are looking to bring a little fun to your December, or really any time of year, you must try a gingerbread man week! Your students will love reading the different versions and participating in all of the fun activities! Comment below with your favorite version of The Gingerbread Man!
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