Posts tagged ‘holiday break’

Holiday Cheer!!!

The excitement of opening gifts is most likely over, but school doesn’t start for another week.

Here is a great activity to use up left-over sweets and your kids will love it too!

Gingerbread Architecture


  • Frosting— normal icing (not “whipped”)
  • Graham crackers
  • Plastic knives
  • Paper plate, cardboard, etc. for base of house
  • Small Milk Carton or box for house foundation
  • Ruler

Suggested Sweet (or whatever you have at your house)

  • Gum drops
  • Mini candy canes
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Peppermints
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Pull ‘n Peel Twizzlers
  • Red & Green M&Ms
  • Red & Green Sprinkles
  • Red hots
  • Shredded coconut


  • Discover basic understanding of what an architect does
  • Estimate perimeter using non-traditional units of measurement
  • Estimate surface area using non-traditional units of measurement (may be too advanced for younger children)
  • Make a gingerbread house!

Set up: Clean off the kitchen table or flat surface (some place that can get MESSY). Have the materials available for

Intro: Ask your child(ren) if they know what an architect does? An elementary definition, an architect is a person who designs and builds buildings, etc. One important concept of architecture is knowing how much of a certain material one would need in the construction of their structure/building. While building today’s Gingerbread house you are going to work with some familiar math concepts in architecture with unfamiliar units—candy!

Perimeter: What if you want to make a border all the way around your house. What might happen if you didn’t know how much material you needed? (run out, have too much, etc.) How could you figure out how much material you need? (Measure all four sides) This measurement is called PERIMETER. Perimeter is a big word that basically means add all four sides. Ask your child(ren) to measure all four sides of their gingerbread house and find the perimeter. (Don’t tell them what to use to measure.) Because our gingerbread houses are square, is there another way that you could have figured out the perimeter (how much material you need to go around all four sides)? (Yes, a square has four equal sides, so you could multiply one side length by four.)

Perimeter Practice: You may know that you can measure objects in centimeters or inches, but did you know that you can also measure things with M&M’s or marshmallows? Ask your child(ren) to estimate the perimeter of different objects using non-traditional tools. (ex: measure the perimeter of the plate with M&M’s or measure the perimeter of a napkin with sprinkles) Estimate means that it’s okay to say that the length of a graham cracker square is 9 M&M’s even if it’s actually 9.25 M&M’s or so.

Discussion Point: You will find there are different measurements for the same item (i.e. for the perimeter of the plate could be 30 gum drops OR 45 red hots). Can these both be right? Yes, they were measuring in different units. One person measured in red hots and another person measured in gum drops; gum drops are bigger than red hots, so it makes sense that you would need fewer gum drops to cover the same length.

Surface Area: What would you need to know about a wall to paint it? (how big it is, etc.) One way to talk about how big the wall is, is to determine its area. How can you find the (surface) area of the wall? (Area=length x height) Estimate the area (or surface area) of one graham cracker wall using M&Ms.

Ok, so what if you wanted to paint the entire outside of your house white…how would you know how much paint to buy? To figure it out, you would need to know the surface area of the house. What is surface area? (Technically, surface area is the sum of all the areas of all the shapes that cover the surface of the object.) How could we find the SA of our house? SA= area of wall 1 + area of wall 2 + area of wall 3 + area of wall 4 + area of roof. (Note: Will you use 1 or 2 graham cracker squares to build your roof?) That’s kind of a long process, do we really need to measure each wall or are there any shortcuts? Recall that the graham cracker house is a cube. Also, we’re constructing out of graham crackers, so if you used 6 graham crackers to build your house, your SA would be 6*(SA of one graham cracker).

Time to be the Architect and Construct your Gingerbread house!

Procedure: Frost the graham cracker walls to the sides of the juice carton. Place one graham cracker square on top to make the base of the roof. Next, lean two graham cracker squares against each other to make a pointy roof. Cement with lots of frosting. Then, decorate with candy to your heart’s delight!

Building and of course eating a Gingerbread house is always a kid favorite and now you can integrate simple math concepts within the creative experience.


December 28, 2009 at 9:27 am Leave a comment

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