Gingerbread Houses (1st)

Winter is probably my favorite season solely because I then have an excuse to do winter-themed projects - and this architecture lesson is no exception!
I began by reading the book "Iggy Peck, Architect" by Andrea Beaty with my students and we discussed how Iggy had to work creatively to create structures with very unusual materials (pancakes, pies, shoes, dirty diapers {ewwww}, etc.). Then we discussed what features a home might have.
After we finished discussing, I showed my students a variety of images of gingerbread houses that I found on the internet. We looked at how the gingerbread house creators used different candies to create different architectural features (both functional and decorative). Then students went back to their desks and drew their own gingerbread houses on a sheet of paper with pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.
On the second day my students began creating their own gingerbread house collages with scraps of colored paper. The only standard thing I supplied them with was a pile of brown rectangle pieces to be used for the body of their house (the gingerbread - or graham crackers if you will).
The following day they continued decorating their houses and I gave them a shaving cream and glue mixture to dab on to create a snowy/icing look.
On the fourth day I surprised my students by telling them they'd be working in pairs to create their own real gingerbread houses! Man were they excited! They got to be both the architect AND the builder in this project!
I gave each pair of students a Styrofoam plate and a ziploc baggie with 5 square graham crackers inside (I prepped these before they came in to save time). Each table also got a cup of marshmallow fluff to be used as the "icing" (this is like 10000x more cost efficient). Then I demonstrated to students how to dip the sides of the graham cracker square into the marshmallow fluff and use it as the glue to connect the "walls" and "roof."
Once their basic structures were built, we put their houses into my storage closet to set and they washed up.

The next and final day students got to decorate their houses however they wanted to with like 8 different types of candy that I provided them. They LOVEEEEDDDD it.
At the end of class they kept their houses in my room to set once again.. then I returned them to their classroom a couple hours later with baggies so they could break their houses in half and each get to take home some of the house.


  1. Love your architectural connections and will try to remember and borrow this lesson for next year. I would never be able to create with candy in the Art room. Glad to see some schools still experience these things.

    1. I'm definitely lucky to be in the county and school that I'm in! We have standards that we must meet.. but how we get there is entirely our own choice. I know a lot of counties are told what to do when.. so I feel really lucky being where I am. :)
      Regardless though - sometimes I feel like I just take risks. Are gingerbread houses "high" art? No.. but I teach elementary art - if they can't do this here.. when will they be able to?!
      Sometimes I get entirely too crafty. hahaha