Monday, January 2, 2017

Creative and Critical Thinking with the Gingerbread Man

Every December, Our class gets a visitor from up north!  The Gingerbread Man comes to spend the Holidays with us!  This of course spurred an interest in the different versions of the Gingerbread Man!  The kids enjoyed comparing them and through these stories learned the story elements such as characters, main characters, setting, problem and solution.  At the end, each child wrote their own version making sure they included all of these elements. I wish I had photos of the books and their stories, but I forgot to take any!  They were so creative and their stories spanned three pages.  So many reading and writing standards are covered here!

I set out some experiences for them to explore.  Our artists created paintings and sculptures of the Gingerbread Man with gingerbread dough and loose parts.  I love making this gingerbread dough.  It makes the classroom smell amazing!

For our scientists, the kids enjoyed taking different spices and creating their own mixture by grinding them.  They also added water into a test tube and mixed the spices to see what would happen.  They loved taking the test tubes around the class so everyone could smell their "potions." Again, our classroom smelled amazing!

They created observational drawing of the clove, allspice and anise.  They are definitely getting better at drawing like a scientist when needed!  They also recorded what happened when they mixed their potions.

For our engineers, I set out an invitation to build a bridge that would get the characters to the other side of the river to try to catch the gingerbread man!  This also lead to some story telling as they acted out the story!  They came up with many different designs.  Some worked in teams and others worked independently.

I also set up an area for small world play where the kids could create a setting and retell the gingerbread story, or make up their own!

One day, we came in to find this on our Morning Message board!

The kids were so surprised!  We brainstormed what we could do to get him back!  They decided to make a large "LOST" poster.  We used interactive writing to create this one and hung it where it would be seen by everyone.  They also decided to create their own to hang all over the school.  They wanted to make sure that if anyone saw him, they would bring him to us.

We had a lot of students from other classes that were very concerned and kept asking us if we had found him yet.  We were so glad that our posters were working and being read!

When he still didn't show up, we decided to write letters to see if we could persuade him to come back.  I have to say that this is the best writing I have ever seen from them.  I told them that if Gingy couldn't read the letters, they wouldn't work.  I told them that they needed to spell sight words correctly, use spaces, write every sound they hear in "hard" words and write as neatly as they could.  Their writing blew me away.  It is amazing how well they can do if it is meaningful and authentic to them.

One morning, I told them that the people who watch the security footage sent me some pictures!  I showed them each one separately. The collective gasp was awesome!  They were so excited!

The next day I showed them this picture of him reading their letters!

Since he still hadn't come back, they decided to build traps.  We created a list as a class of different kind of traps they could create and how each worked.  Then each signed up to make a certain kind of trap!

They worked in teams to come up with plans to create their traps.

It was then time to find materials and get to work! This was a great experience for them.  Some teams had to work through team members not listening or taking over the whole project.  A lot of problem solving went on here, not only in creating a trap that works, but in working together respectfully.  In the end, it all worked out and it was great for them to see the problems that can arise when working with a team and how to deal with it appropriately.

Here are some of the traps!

They also had to test them out!  This was a very crazy part of the day, but they were all on task and so excited when they finally were able to get their traps to work!

We left them overnight and...finally, we caught Gingy! He was caught in the net trap!

We also caught his friends that we saw in the "security pictures!"

Gingy let us know that he just wanted to explore the school with his friends and he was so glad to be back.  The kids kept a close eye on him until it was time to leave for winter break.  Now Gingy is back up north until next year! It is so fun to do this each year.  The excitement in their eyes as they go through this never gets old.  I love that this age still believes in magic and I get to believe right with them!

We celebrated by decorating and eating our own gingerbread person cookies!  Most of the kids loved them but they all loved decorating them!

We then made gifts for their families.  Each child created a one of a kind ornament designed by them!  I love how colorful these turned out.  Many used patterns around their ornaments, some drew pictures, while others covered the whole ball with color!  Each one totally unique!

We also made ornaments with their jar rings, pictures and jewels.

They made handprint reindeer cards and wrote messages to their families in them.

I hope everyone enjoyed their gifts and  had a happy and magical holiday season!  See you in January!