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Monday Morning Ready12.14.2018
Jumpstart Your Week!

The day after Christmas is typically a time for relaxation and reflection after a harried holiday season. But not for Jon Lovitch—December 26 is the day he gets started on next year’s Christmas miracle. Driven by visions of Yuletide glory, he hits up stores’ post-holiday sales and stocks up on the sugar, candy and other sweets he’ll use to build his next GingerBread Lane.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Why do you think people make gingerbread houses during the winter holiday season?

Grade 5-6

What would be your favorite part about making a giant gingerbread village like the one featured in the article—coming up with the idea, making it or breaking the Guinness World Record for building the world’s largest gingerbread village? Why?

Grade 7-8

What is your favorite winter holiday tradition? Do you make anything as part of that tradition? If so, what is it and how do you make it? If not, what could you make to honor that tradition?

Grade 9-10

From a practical point of view, what do you think are the biggest challenges Jon Lovitch faces each time he builds a massive gingerbread village? Why?

LESSON PLAN
Design a Gingerbread House

PROCESS:

  1. Poll the class to see how many students have ever built a gingerbread house. Invite volunteers to describe the building process. Guide the class to recognize that, while it may seem simple, building a gingerbread house is a bit like constructing a real house. To succeed, you need the right materials and tools. You also need a plan.
  2. Inform students that they are going to design and build a gingerbread house of their own. First, have students draw a picture showing what they want their gingerbread house to look like. Then, have them create a plan. The plan should include a list of materials they’ll use as part of the gingerbread house, a list of tools they’ll need to build it and a blueprint with precise measurements to show how they will get it done.
  3. Give students time to complete their projects. Display students’ creations in a classroom gingerbread village.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to display their creations and post their initial drawings in a classroom gingerbread village. Encourage classmates to compare and contrast the before and after visions. As a class, review the building process. Encourage students to describe the biggest challenges they faced when constructing their gingerbread houses.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3–4:
Prior to conducting this activity, collect cardboard, foam board and an assortment of other materials students could use to build a gingerbread house. Or, have students bring materials from home. If you use any food products, be sure to avoid items that might cause allergic reactions. Have each student draw, design and build their own gingerbread house.
Grades 5–6:
Prior to conducting this activity, collect cardboard, foam board and an assortment of other materials students could use to build a gingerbread house. Or, have students bring materials from home. If you use any food products, be sure to avoid items that might cause allergic reactions. Have each student draw and design their own gingerbread house. Challenge them to create a blueprint with precise measurements. Give students time to build their creations.
Grades 7–8:
Instruct students to draw a picture of a gingerbread house they would like to build. Then have them draft blueprints with precise measurements showing how it will be done. Provide cardboard or foam board and have students bring any other building materials they will need from home. Give students time to create their gingerbread houses. Once the houses are finished, encourage students to inspect each other’s houses to verify that the finished products match the measurements noted in the blueprints.
Grades 9–10:
Instruct students to draw a detailed picture of a gingerbread house they would like to build. Then have them draft blueprints with precise measurements showing how it will be done. Provide cardboard or foam board and have students bring any other building materials they will need from home. Give students time to create their gingerbread houses. Once the houses are finished, encourage students to inspect each other’s houses to verify that the finished products match the measurements noted in the blueprints and the colors and design replicate those proposed in the initial drawing.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
The Un-Christmassy Origin of Gingerbread Houses
Did you know that the tradition of decorative gingerbread dates back to the story of Hansel and Gretel? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to explore the connection.

Masters of the Building Arts Activity Guide
This educational activity guide for young people explores the artistry and skill of master craftworkers in the building trades and their important contributions to our architectural heritage. The guide, courtesy of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage, features hands-on activities to do at school or at home.

Santa Claus: Comparing Evolving Imagery and Text
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection gathers depictions of Santa Claus from ads, paintings, photographs, stamps from 1837 to today. Students will explore how the description of Santa in the Christmas poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" compares with the images in the collection.

Holiday Celebrations: Highlights Collection
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection includes images, text, and other multimedia resources that celebrate the traditions of the winter holidays.

A Gingerbread Smithsonian Castle
Watch this Smithsonian magazine video to see how Charles Froke, executive pastry chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. recreated the Smithsonian Castle in gingerbread.

Season’s Greetings: Holiday Cards from the Archives of American Art
Invite students to view this online exhibition of handmade Christmas cards, created by more than thirty modern artists. Encourage students to use the cards as inspiration before creating cards of their own.

Songs to Make Winter Bright: Traditions of Singing at Christmas and Other Winter Holidays
This webpage from the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage discusses the role of music in winter traditions around the world and in the United States. The primary focus is Christmas and Chanukah. The site includes music samples and an audio slideshow.

A Brief History of Gingerbread
Gingerbread is a delicious concoction. Whose bright idea was it, anyway? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to find out.
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