Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Hey y'all!  How are my sweet friends? 

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I love the holidays every year.  I celebrate with my kids until I am "stick a fork in me...I am done!"  Since we celebrate the holidays in Germany, one of the craftivities that we do is gingerbread houses.  I know what you are thinking...WHY??  

Because gingerbread houses are fun!!  

It is truly pure joy for my firsties to decorate gingerbread houses. I do think they hum with merriment and joy. 

Now, I know it sounds like a crazy sugar-filled train-wreck BUT after 14 years of devious preventive planning...I think I have almost mastered the art of making gingerbread houses.  Ummm...probably not! 

However...I am going to tell you everything I know....all of my order from beginning to end.

My Gingerbread House Monologue
These are my exact words to my students right before we make our houses...
"We are not making food to eat.  This is a decoration to put on your table at home. It is not dinner. It is not a snack. If you sneak and eat things off of this gingerbread house, please do not ever tell me and it's probably not a good idea to tell your mother." 

But then they do. 

(Bleh.)  :P

Gingerbread House Making Tips!!

Tip One:  Students will need to save their milk cartons from the cafeteria which is really exciting for some reason?  :/  I am not sure why.  This is the base of the gingerbread house.  Doing it without a base can be frustrating and your gingerbread house breaks very easily. 

Tip Two:  Note to self:  You will need to do this at least three or four days before you actually decorate your gingerbread houses:  You must wash the cartons with soap and let them dry completely.  I even disinfect them with disinfectant.

Tip Three: Also, put plastic disposable plates on your purchase list. Plastic disposable plates work best as the base of the gingerbread house.  Let me say that plastic plates...not styrofoam or paper.  You will be glad you did. 

Tip Four: will need a hot glue gun, glue sticks, and possibly band-aids as well.  I always seem to walk away with a burn probably because my glue gun is called the Beast. 

Base and Carton Assembly

Step One:  After you wash and dry the milk cartons, have your cartons and plates ready.  Plug that glue gun in and make sure you have plenty of glue sticks!   Now, you are ready to build some houses!  

Step Two:  The lips of the carton will need to be glued together.  To do just need a small line of hot glue on the opening of the carton.  Press together carefully.    

No burns...yet.  

Step Three:  Now you will glue the base of the bottom of the milk carton to the plastic plate. 

Awesome hold! 

                  I glued the carton right smack in the middle of the plate.

I think it took me about 20 minutes to do 16 of my students gingerbread houses.   Yeah! 

Building the House!

 Now for the fun part!  Every house takes 6 graham cracker halves or three long crackers.  I use hot glue to glue the crackers to the milk carton. glue.  I know...but remember it is a decoration. 

(Long ago, I had the students "glue" their graham crackers to their cartons with icing.  But the crackers never even made it out my classroom door.  They would actually fall right off the carton and the entire thing would end up in the trash.)  

Here are the walls of the house being glued on!   


Notice the graham cracker are glued on near the top of the carton leaving space at the bottom.  This actually works better than gluing them to the bottom and leaving a space at the top.  Students can easily disguise the bottom with icing and candies.  


This part is a bit tricky.  You want to put hot glue on the edge of the carton and the top of the wall to attach the roof.  Can you see the dripping glue on the edges? You will want to be pretty generous here because it is an awkward position for the crackers but 80 percent of the time the crackers stay. Now carefully place your graham cracker halves.  

And the hard part is over! 

It probably took me about an hour to do my 16 houses.  That seems like a lot of time but you will be sooo glad you did.  ;)

More Gingerbread House Building Tips

 I have parents donate candies, cereals, chocolate chips, and marshmallows to decorate the house.  It is a big help to you and usually it's easy to get items donated because the students are way excited!  Here is the sheet we use! 

I put everything on a single plate for each group of three or four students and I give them one tub of white icing with a butter knife.  

Now it is go time.  And they do...for all of the trouble and craziness and prepared-ness???  It is actually a quiet time for the students.  They are focused and on task AND they are quietly eating the icing.  

Yes...they totally do it.  It is gross but you probably will not know because they can be quite sneaky, or you may choose not to know.  The latter is usually me.   

 I stay busy cleaning up and getting grocery/wally world bags ready.  Yep...just the good ol' plastic grocery bag.  It ties easily and makes the trip home a little easier for everyone.

Especially, for the houses that look like Mount Crumpet.  

 Clean-up is easy.  Once students are out the door, throw everything away.  Leave no sugar behind.  Wash the tables.  Disinfect with Lysol.  And you are finished and possibly the best gingerbread construction supervisor EVER! 

Here is the last bit of advice that I can give you.  Decorate the gingerbread houses, 30 to 45 minutes before the students go home.  You can use it as an incentive AND you really don't have any of the sugar craziness. <-- awesome perk.  


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  1. Mount Crumpet was definitely a home built with love! I sure hope the parents take pics of these treasures to bring out the memories again down the road. Thanks for sharing your tips, Shana!
    Linda at Primary Inspiration

    1. Thank you Linda!! Mount Crumpet was probably one of my favorites!! Thanks for stopping by!! Happy Holidays!! : )

  2. It's been a few years since I've made gingerbread houses with my class, but this gets me excited to try it again this year. Thanks for the inspiration
    First Grade Schoolhouse

    1. Thank s for stopping by!! I LOVE having the students decorate them. And it's not as crazy as the first time I tried it! Ha! : )