Fairy Tales, Cookies, Makerspace and Beyond…..

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The Gingerbread Man……IMG_3656IMG_3664…..and Beyond……

We all know the story of this runaway cookie…but using technology, collaboration, and any curriculum, a whole new adventure can be discovered and embraced. This year, I am working with Jr. K students to create an exciting adventure they will never forget. In December, I read one of the many versions of this favorite fairytale to the class and showed them the 3D gingerbread man that I had made last year. Jan Brett’s extraordinary illustrations in Gingerbread Baby are one of my favorites and of course, my audience loved the surprise ending with the mystery flap.
In the classroom, the children experienced the steps needed to measure the ingredients and follow the recipe for this all time favorite sweet. Both teachers and all the students baked their own individual gingerbread cookies and of course, they all ran away. When the children discovered their cookies were gone, they followed the well planned clues and went around the campus in search of their snacks. At the end of the day, they had indeed discovered all of the missing runaways, except both of the teachers’ cookies.
The next plan, in the collaboration process was to come to the maker space and discuss their problem. They listed ideas and solutions to try to solve the problem of the two missing cookies. Students wrote their ideas on the white board table and shared. They voted for the top 3 best choices and we listed them on the table, too. The first choice was to build a trap to catch the missing sweets.  So each child designed their idea of a trap and explained just how it would operate.
In the meantime, the two missing cookies were safely tucked in the library refrigerator with a note, “Please do not eat us…we are part of a project.”
After our winter break, the students returned to the maker space and were divided into two teams. Each team was assigned to design a trap using materials in the maker space as well as other tools they could find in their classrooms.
Once the traps were designed, students needed to plan where to set them and then the waiting began. Miraculously, one of the traps successfully captured one of the teacher’s runaways. The students were thrilled and you can imagine the glee on their faces to see that cookie inside. However, one trap remained empty and another journey began for that cookie.
Since the curriculum for these students would involve learning about the waterways of Florida, the missing gingerbread cookie sent the class an e-mail or a letter. He told them that he had gone on a trip around Florida and his first stop was a waterway. Using a green screen, the technology teacher and maker media specialist sent pictures of this traveling cookie on all the waterways, lakes, and rivers the teacher wanted to cover in her lessons. The children were given clues and maps to  guess where the cookie was visiting. Suggestions as to where they think he would go next were also listed for further reference.

This can be a fantastic segway to learning all the information about that particular topic in any curriculum.These lessons could continue the rest of the year. Depending on the teacher’s input, the gingerbread man could continue forever on his travels or could return to the classroom at the end of the year.
This lesson can be adapted to cover many different disciplines and curriculum subjects. Letter writing, story telling, and creative writing can also be embedded as well as punctuation, parts of speech, math (to measure how far he travels in between e-mails), measuring (in cooking the recipe), geography, map skills, transportation, weather, clothing that he would need to wear in certain climates, rocks & minerals, animals, and insects, to mention just a few. Mishaps along the way could explain a broken foot or missing eye of the cookie. Using your imagination, the list can gone on indefinitely. So next time you think a fairy tale is just for the younger students you teach…remember you can always go beyond…just like this “cookie”.

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