Yesterday I made these “gingerbread” houses with my after-school kids. This is not my first time to do this activity with a bunch of kids. In retrospect, the fact that I continue to do it might be indicative of self-mutilation or insane tendencies. It is a really fun and pleasurable experience with a few kids (like in the safety of your own home), but with a large group it is basically the apocalypse of sugar. The way I do the activity, I tell the kids you only have x amount of dollars for your building project. Your supplies are not unlimited. You basically get what you get to build your “house.” You must design and construct your house. No adult is going to do the thinking or labor for you. You have to problem solve and YOU have to figure it out, AND…if you eat all your building materials then your house will just have to be built a different way through the digestive process. Seems easy enough, right?
Each child (there were 30) got a plate, 6 half graham cracker squares, candy canes, a handful of hard candies and a bag of icing. The crying and eating started immediately. The cry of “I CAN’T DO THIS!” echoed through the room several times. One boy had a complete meltdown of frustration before he even picked up any of his building supplies. You could hear the sounds of icing being sucked out of the bag and teeth gnawing on candy throughout the room. As the building inspector, I walked around and gave compliments and some very minimal direction. One little girl ran by me with a crazed look in her eye. She had icing all over her face and dress. I asked her if she was eating her inventory. She said, “No ma’am.” A lie is always best served with good manners. Construction continued with some really amazing designs. Many of the houses would not stay standing due to the amount of icing and the fact that there was kid slobber all over the graham crackers. In the end, the room also looked like icing, cookies and candy had been shot out of a canon and then run over by a dump truck. Everything was sticky. I even found icing in my pants and bra when I got home later that night. I do have to say, as usual with this activity, the kids had a blast. They got to take something pretty cool home with them that they did themselves and they got an awesome sugar high. As for me, I went home, made a large cocktail and picked the icing out of my hair.
A few of the completed house!