Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gingerbread Time!

The play dough centre is a hot spot in our classroom all year round. We make a new batch every Monday, incorporating reading, measuring, and forms of writing (procedure) into the process. The children roll balls, flatten it with a rolling pin, create snakes, pat it, squish it, cut shapes out of it, decorate their creations with sequins, toothpicks, glitter, and googly eyes. One of us usually sits at the table to demonstrate new techniques for manipulating play dough, while listening in on the spontaneous conversations that arise. These conversations between the children offer so many insights into their understanding of the world around them. We take photos of the children and make notes that will help us in future planning.

Today at our Welcome Circle (first thing in the morning) we passed around a small cup containing a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. They each took a sniff and we marvelled at the range of their experiences of scent: "It smells like...hot jelly beans...cinnamon hearts...cookies...spicy stuff...GINGERBREAD!" We read "Maisy Makes Gingerbread" by Lucy Cousins and everyone seems keen to make REAL gingerbread cookies before Christmas.

We talked about where spices come from and they were astounded when I mentioned that cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree. I made a mental note to bring in the "raw materials" that are used to create dried spices: a ginger root, some whole cloves, a whole nutmeg, and some cinnamon sticks.

When we sent them out into the classroom to play, I gathered a small group in the play dough centre, and we went through the steps of creating play dough. This recipe was different as it required us to cook the dough, and the children were very interested in the way the mixture changed as it cooked.

In no time at all, we had a beautiful batch of Gingerbread Playdough, and we set the children loose with rolling pins, cutters, and lots of sparkly sequins with which to decorate their cookie creations! The dough turned out beautifully and as the site suggests, it would make wonderful homemade Christmas gifts. Enjoy!

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