Why do you think people make gingerbread houses during the winter holiday season?
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?
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?
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Give students time to complete their projects. Display students’ creations in a classroom gingerbread village.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
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.
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.
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.
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection includes images, text, and other multimedia resources that celebrate the traditions of the winter holidays.
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.
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.
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.
Gingerbread is a delicious concoction. Whose bright idea was it, anyway? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to find out.