Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Washington Does The Gingerbread Man

It's my tradition each December to read four or five different versions of the Gingerbread Man to my third graders. Then we make gingerbread houses in the library. It's the unit I look forward to the most each year and all my younger students can't wait until 3rd grade so they can have a turn to do this fun unit. Here are some of the versions we read. I mix it up each year picking whichever stories I am in the mood to read.

The Runaway Rice Cake By Ying Chang Compestine
Grades 2-5
This version takes place in China. It is longer than the other versions and has more difficult concepts and vocabulary too. Three brothers and their parents are poor and make a rice cake for the New Year. It runs away only to be eaten by a poor old woman. Upon hearing what happened to their food, their generoud neighbors come by with offerings. Sharing what little they themselves have to eat. The food starts to magically replenish and it is assumed that the woman was a god in disguise and is rewarding the family for their kindness.

The Matzo Ball Boy By Lisa Shulman
Grades 2-5
This version is written with some Yiddish words and it's about a Bubbe (grandmother) who is lonely and makes a Matzo Ball Boy for Passover to keep her company. He runs away and is chased by a Rabbi, a Yenta (village gossip), and the tailor. Though he outsmarts the fox he meets an untimely end in a bowl of soup when he trusts a poor married couple in the forest who invite him in for dinner.

The Gingerbread Boy By Richard Egielski
Grades K-3

This version takes place in New York City which my students enjoy since we're in north Jersey and they go into the city frequently with their families. He is chased by subway musicians, construction workers and a policeman mounted on a horse in Central Park.

Runaway Radish By Janice Levy
Grades K-3
This is a version that takes place in Mexico. The radish is about to be carved for a radish festival and runs awak. Along the way he is chased by a donkey, a chef making mole sauce, and a mariachi band.

The Gingerbread Girl By Lisa Campbell Ernst
Grades K-3
This is the only version we do where the gingerbread is a girl. This is one of my students' favorites because she outsmarts the fox in the end and she is a very sassy character.

The Gingerbread Cowboy By Janet Squires
Grades K-3
This version follows the traditional storyline, but the characters the gingerbread cowboy meets along the way are specific to the wild west which makes it fun to read. He sees long-horned cattle, lizards, etc.

The Gingerbread Man Retold by Jim Aylesworth
Grades K-3
This is the version I start with each year. All the other version we read are then compared to this one. We do discuss that typically the fox tricks the gingerbread man while crossing a river and eats him which is different than this one. other than that it's a pretty traditional version. 

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School By Laura Murray
Grades K-3
This is a new version I bought for the library this year. The students liked how it was written in more of a comic book layout, but was still really easy to read aloud to the class because it wasn't too cluttered. The gingerbread man survives in this version too and the students who make him even build him a gingerbread desk and house so he can stay in their classroom as their friend.

Two or three weeks before we make the houses I send a letter home to the parents letting them know we'll be making gingerbread houses, telling them which day and time their students have library and also what they will need to bring in for the project. Each child has one adult helper come that day to assist in building the house. Lots of grandparents and dads come in which is really nice. It's a very simple project because they just cover an empty milk or juice carton with frosting and then graham crackers. Then the rest of the period is spent decorating the houses with any candies, icing or sprinkles they have brought. The kids share with each other and have a lot of fun being creative.  Here are some of the houses my 3rd graders made this past week.

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