Common Core in December: Gingerbread

December is always so much fun at school, but unfortunately, also crazy busy! When I taught first grade, there were always SO many themes I wanted to integrate into the curriculum. There's gingerbread, Polar Express, reindeer, Christmas around the world... The list goes on. For the next week I will share some of my favorite activities for December. First up... GINGERBREAD! :) Check back for two more posts coming very soon!

Gingerbread Reading Literature 
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.9 Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

I know it's not the prettiest gingerbread house around, but the kids ate. it. up. (ha! Get it?) I wanted to make it easy, so I just tore white paper and glued it on for frosting. Then I colored circles on the frosting. The squares are supposed to be windows. As we read different versions of the Gingerbread Man, we filled in the squares. Since then, there has been a boom of even more amazing gingerbread stories. There are SO many out there, you could have a lot of fun with them. 

Some things to get talk about to get your kids thinking:
  • How does the setting affect the story?
  • How does the setting change the characters from story to story?
  • Evaluate the ending of each story. Which ending did you like best and why? 
  • Were there any endings you didn't like? Why? 
  • What characteristics describe the gingerbread chargers? (Provide text evidence) Do they all have these same qualities?
  • How are these stories different? the same?
  • Were all the stories' events similar? Was there a pattern to all the books?
  • Who is telling the story?  (Most have a 3rd person narrator, but The Gingerbread Man Loose in School is from the perspective of the gingerbread.)

(This is from a 2011 post you can find here.)

You could also make a Venn diagram. I made it into an interactive writing lesson.

This is hard to see but we did another interactive writing activity to demonstrate how to write a comparison paper. We worked on this as a class in first grade. The first two sections talk about the differences and the last part shows the similarities. You could compare two books as a class and then have them do their own comparing with two other books.

These four things are all part of my gingerbread unit (see below)

Just to give you an idea of all the options for comparing...

(I'll be adding this updated chart to my gingerbread unit- see bottom of post)

Gingerbread Writing (freebie)
A follow-up activity that I loved was to write our own gingerbread stories. First, I told them to choose a setting for their story. Next, think of characters that would likely be found in a story with that setting. Then, use the same pattern of events to make the story.  Finally, decide how you want your gingerbread story to end. 

This version is for beginning writers:

And this is for more experienced writers: 

This more advanced version is perfect for 2nd/3rd grade but definitely doable for advanced first graders. There are so many great mini-lessons you could do for this!

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.

Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

Last year, I posted this idea for classroom management. 
We are always looking for ways to motivate our students, keep learning interesting and fun, but also manage the craziness. The holidays can get crazy. It's so fun and I always look forward to it, but let's face it, the kids can get a little too excited sometimes. :) Here's an idea to reward good classroom behavior:

Have your class work together to retell a story by having good behavior. Set out the parts of your favorite story. Here, I used Whimsy Workshop's adorable clipart, but you could also just have your students draw these cards. (That way you could do for any story.) When you want to reward the class for great (or "sweet") behavior, add a story card to the story board. Call on a student to choose which card goes next. This way, you are reinforcing sequencing. When you fill up the chart, you could give the class some sort of reward. Now, mind you a reward can be as simple as an extra recess. It could be a small gingerbread cookie. You could even be a youtube Gingerbread "movie". If you search "Gingerbread" on youtube, a bunch comes up. Mostly there are people reading the book but for some reason this feels more special, right? Sort of a movie? The reward can be as big or tiny as you want. The point is to get them working together to build the story.

Download this idea with the template here. 
Note: The clip art does not come with this. You can buy the gingerbread clip art here. Like I said earlier, you could also draw it though. :)

For more gingerbread activities, check out my Gingerbread Unit:
Click HERE to get to my TPT store.

  •  My own adaptation of The Gingerbread Man. This has been kid-tested and it passed the test. I printed it out for my son and he asks me to read it over and over. We love our gingerbread books, so it was fun to add one to our collection. :)

This story has some great comprehension questions. This is perfect for a close reading lesson!

  • 3 Reading passages, each with about 3 reading levels (so it could work for 1st and 2nd with varying ability levels). There are also comprehension question and some close reading prompts.
  • 2 read, think Match pages
  • 2 Read, Visualize, Draw (one with two levels)
  • 2 Read and Sequence (one is from my December literacy packet. I had to include it since it's gingerbread related. But there is a second one that is new)

I wrote a gingerbread man poem. This will be a lot of fun to do with my firsties! There is a student sheet and pocket chart strips so you could do some rebuilding.  I also made a much simpler one that I will use with my kinders and one of my first grader groups.

Here are some photos of some of the options:

8 word work centers:
  • Rhyme match
  • Cookie Jar Sort: Sounds of Y
  • Syllable match: Matching up two-syllable words
  • Frost the cookies: TWO versions: matching consonant blends with word endings OR matching word to a suffix
  • Ginger Sound Count: Counting phonemes
  • Baking Words: This looks similar to something in my kinder menu. I loved it so much and wanted to have something like this for my firsties and 2nd graders. So I made the word options harder so it works for them. They can build words with oo, ai, or short i. 
  • Gumdrop Sort: Sorting long and short vowels 
  • Blend the Batter: Matching onset and rime

  • 4 Sentence Scramblers
  • Super Sentence Gingerbread story: two options (the harder one includes adjectives and adverbs. The easier one only has adjectives, when and where)

  • Sentence Enders
  • Fill a Sentence: prepositional words

  • Gingerbread Opinion writing: 3 prompts
  • Reader Response: retell with planning page
  • Sticker story
  • Describe a Cookie



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