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Gingerbread thematic unit activities- great activity ideas for the holidays.

Gingerbread Fun!

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 Gingerbread thematic unit activities- great activity ideas for the holidays.
We’ve had such a blast working through our gingerbread unit! It almost makes the weather outside feel like winter. I mean as much as it can with 85 degree weather everyday #flweatherproblems. I love using the different variations of “The Gingerbread Man” to stroll through the standard CCSS RL 2.9 of comparing and contrasting two or more versions of the same story by different authors or from different cultures. Studying the different versions also works well with understanding story structure and recounting fables. Overall, it’s a winner in my book!

Comparing Different Versions of The Gingerbread Man


I love pulling LOTS of books from our library for any thematic unit we are teaching and our gingerbread unit is no different! I’ve collected a few versions of my own over the years, but you can check out all my class’ faves (and a few new suggestions) here on amazon!
9 of the MUST HAVE books for a gingerbread man unit!
To start off our gingerbread thematic unit, we first read a classic retelling of “The Gingerbread Man”. After reading the text, we used our “Story Map” Interactive Anchor Chart to document the characters, setting, and the actions of the beginning, middle, and end.
Story Map interactive Anchor chart- great idea for comparing similar stories. Love how this teacher uses different colored sticky notes for each story as they read through out the week.
Then, we used the chart to help use fill out a three tab fold-able.
Recounting story of "The Gingerbread Boy" tri-fold
We used the retell to help us recount the story and determine the central message of this VERY popular folktale. We wrote that on the back. The kiddos came up with so many different themes! I was really excited to see all our hard work with theme a few weeks ago really seemed to pay off! Three of the major ones the students identified were:
1. Don’t talk to strangers
2. Don’t boast or brag
3. Don’t run away from the people who love you. (WOW!)
(Did I mention I teach second grade??? LOL)

The next day, we continued our study of the folktale with reading Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby.


(Check it out on Amazon)

I absolutely LOVE the illustrations in Jan Brett books (affiliate link)! She does an amazing job of telling the story through the pictures. As we read this retelling, we mainly focused on the details in the pictures, especially the little side view windows that are uniquely Jan Brett.

Then, we went back to our Interactive Anchor chart and started mapping this story. As we added our sticky notes to each section, we discussed how this retelling was different then the classic version we read the previous day.

Using a story map interactive anchor chart to compare two versions of the same story.

Finally,  it was time to compare these two stories. We did a super quick brainstorm together on the whiteboard…

Compare and contrast two versions of "The Gingerbread Boy"

Then, it was time for the kiddos to write their own comparisons.

Comparing the stories, "Gingerbread Baby" and "The Gingerbread Boy"

Students documented their findings on this sheet from my gingerbread unit, “Can’t Catch Me!“. To double check their answers, the kiddos shared their responses with their shoulder partners and discussed.

Next up was a western inspired retelling and of course, my boys favorite!

Of course, by our third retelling, filling out our chart was super easy!


We also read, “The Gingerbread Girl”.

The Gingerbread Girl (Hardcover)

The girls LOVED this one, especially since she doesn’t end up getting eaten at of the story like most of the others!


Verb Writing with Gingerbread Stories

We used “The Gingerbread Girls” retelling to discuss adding the suffix -ing to verbs to change when the verb happens.  So, after we read the text, we brainstormed 12 different verbs that would describe how the gingerbread cookies got away.

Twirl, flip, run, jog, jump… 

Were just a few of the verbs we wrote down. Then, we worked to add -ing to each word, discussing how sometimes to spelling changed and sometimes it didn’t. Then, we recorded our verbs on this little booklet.

Adding an ending verb gingerbread story craft- perfect for grammar during a gingerbread thematic unit

The booklet was attached to a little gingerbread man that we made. The next day, we used the verbs to create our own Gingerbread story. The students checked off the verbs they used as they wrote. Their stories were so creative! I love the “Star Wars” Gingerbread story.

Strong Word Choice with Gingerbread Stories

Another activity we did after reading several versions of “The Gingerbread Boy” was discussing the word choice of the author. We discussed how often the authors used different versions of the word “run” to make the story more interesting. Using this discussion, we play a game of gingerbread word match up as a whole class. To play, we sat in a circle on the carpet. Each student got a word card. As we went around the circle, students matched their word cards with a stronger word choice. If we made a pair, they went in the middle. My kids loved the hands on approach to this vocabulary building exercise!

Playing gingerbread strong word choice game


Then, we used our new found vocabulary skills to show our smarts! Students were challenged to show their new and improved stronger word choices. Then, they got to decorate their “Smart Cookie” sheet with a foam gingerbread I found at a local craft store.

strong word choice gingerbread man activity


This made for a super cute holiday inspired bulletin board!


One Smart Cookie- Gingerbread bulletin board idea


Integrating Technology into our Gingerbread Unit

By this point, we had read so many gingerbread stories, the kids were starting to see the repetition in each story, so they tried to have that in their stories. We also used Popplet to help retell our favorite gingerbread story.

Using the app, Poplet to retell a favorite "Gingerbread" story

This was my seconds first time using this app, so I was very specific in the requirements for the project. Some students even got a little creative and added photos. We shared our retelling popplets with the class when we were done. I’m sure we’ll use it again! (You can read about how easy Popplet is to use here)

We did even more Gingerbread man activities the following week! Click “READ MORE” to see MORE of our gingerbread fun from the following week!

Gingerbread Sampling and Graph Fun!

We’ll also did a little Gingerbread sampling! I’m was a *bit* pressed for time, so I found these gingerbread cookies at our local grocery store. No baking this year! 🙁


I’ve been looking for these for a little while, so when I found them, I decided it would be best to pick up some for my entire team! Sorry to those shoppers around me… I *may* have swiped #alltheboxes!* For this fun graphing activity, each student received one gingerbread cookie. Before sampling our cookies, we answered a couple questions about our cookies and recorded them on this graphing sheet from my “Gingerbread” thematic unit. After sampling our cookies, we did a little data collection and graphing!

Students use gingerbread cookies to read and understand graphs


More Gingerbread Fun!

Now, no Gingerbread week is complete without a Cookie Boogie brain break from GoNoodle!

Cookie boogie brain break- perfect for a gingerbread man unit!

One of my favorite parts of the holidays was having a chance to decorate a gingerbread house. In years passed, I’ve made gingerbread cupcakes and let the kids decorate them, but this year, I had to scale it back a bit due to time (and festivities!) So, instead, the my seconds had a chance to make their own gingerbread house cards for someone special.

gingerbread house card. perfect for the holidays

To make these cards, I printed the house shape onto light brown construction paper. Then, gave each student a page of decorations. I love how some students put all the decorations on, while others only choose certain aspects.

Gingerbread house card- cute idea for a writing activity around the holidays

On the inside, students wrote a little note to someone special. This one came to me from one of my cuties! The love these kids have for their teacher is unbelievable! <3! #allthefeels

History of Gingerbread

With all this literature being thrown around, I wanted to balance it out with some non-fiction text. So, we learned more about the history of gingerbread by first watching this little video from The History Channel.  To build more understanding of the history, we read this article. This article is now added to my Gingerbread unit, so if you already have it, be sure to re-download it!

An article about The history of Gingerbread- great informational text for a gingerbread man unit!

After reading the article as a class, students worked to answer the text dependent questions. This smart cookie decided this was a perfect way to snag a reading comprehension grade! Whoop!

Gingerbread Listening Center

We’ll also be reading more stories in our daily center rotations by using this QR code center.

gingerbread man listening center with QR codes

My thirds LOVED this center last year! Each video reading is run through SafeShare so there are no ads you have to worry about!

The kiddos literally just scan and go! I <3 easy centers! Nothing like a little sweet treat fun to get you and your students in the holiday mood! Be sure to check out these other posts about our Gingerbread units through out the years!

Gingerbread man thematic unit and activities- great ideas for using "The Gingerbread Man" in a second or third grade classroom. Love all the standards you can pull into this amazing unit!


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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!


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