I realize that most teachers have about a week and a half of school left before winter break. As I’ve shared before, this time of year was always one of my favorites to be in the classroom, but it was also a struggle. As a teacher I couldn’t wait for winter break. It was a time of much needed rest and relaxation so that I could come back refreshed and ready to go in January. My students weren’t always as excited. While many looked forward to the break as much as I did, for some of them it was a source of anxiety. School was where they were sure to get two full meals. School provided a dependable structure where they knew what to expect and when to expect it. I learned that as much as I might want to throw our regular schedule out the window and do more open ended projects to get us through those last two weeks before break, that wasn’t what my students needed. They wanted to have fun, but they wanted to maintain our structure. Their minds were already focused on break (whether with anxiety or excitement) so this also wasn’t the time for anything too demanding. This meant that I was always on the look-out for lesson plans and activities that would meet all our needs for this time of year.
In last week’s post I shared with you KidWorldCitizen, a great website that I came across while doing some research for past posts. While spending some time on the website I came across Becky Morales’ article “Gingerbread Stories from Around the World.” The resources provided in the post can easily be turned in to a unit perfect for the last week before break or even that first week back in January. I had no idea there were so many versions of The Gingerbread Man from across the globe. Morales links to many of the versions in her post. Below I’ve highlighted the two that pertain to Latin America since that’s our focus here on Vamos a Leer.
The Runaway Piggy/El Cochinito Fugitivo by James Luna
The sun shines through the windows of Martha’s Panaderia onto the shelves of freshly baked treats. The bakery holds tray after tray of hot Mexican sweet bread–conchas, orejas, cuernitos, empanadas, and cochinitos–all ready for hungry customers. In the classic tradition of The Gingerbread Man, James Luna’s piggy cookie leaps off the baking tray and takes the reader on a mad dash through the barrio, past Lorenzo’s Auto Shop, Nita’s Beauty Salon, Leti’s Flower Shop, and Juana’s Thrift Shop.
The Runaway Tortilla by Eric A. Kimmel
In Texas, Tía Lupe and Tío Jose make the best tortillas – so light that the cowboys say they just might jump right out of the griddle. One day, a tortilla does exactly that. Mocking her pursuers, the tortilla runs through the desert, encountering two horned toads, three donkeys, four jackrabbits, five rattlesnakes, and six buckaroos. She dodges them all, but is finally outwitted by Señor Coyote in this flavorful twist on the classic tale “The Gingerbread Man.”
Below I’ve shared how I’d create an easy unit around Gingerbread stories from around the world. As Morales points out at the beginning of her post, comparing and contrasting two or more versions of the same story by different authors is a common core standard, so if you’re required to meet those, this lesson plan will work for you.
- Choose a few versions of Gingerbread Stories from different parts of the world. If you’ve already covered literature from specific countries or continents in past units, I might choose to focus on those again here so that you can review any geography and compare these tales to the others read.
- Read one of the more common U.S. versions of the The Gingerbread Man. Using chart paper or a graphic organizer, as a class, have students identify the main characters and plot. If you choose to use the table that Morales shared in her post (see right), have students focus on the following questions as they review the story: Who makes the food that runs away? What is the food? Who tries to catch it? Who finally does catch it? Or does it get away? What cultural details are unique in the story? I’ve created an editable word document of the table here.
- Read the other versions of The Gingerbread Man. Have students record the same information as they did above for each of the other versions of the story.
- Once students have read all the versions of The Gingerbread Man that you plan on sharing there are a couple of options for what to do next. Students can:
- Pick their two favorite versions, fill out a Venn Diagram identifying similarities and differences; then, using the diagram, write a compare and contrast paragraph.
- Write their own Gingerbread story choosing who makes the food, what the food is, why the food tries to runaway, who tries to catch it, and if it gets caught. Once they have written their story, they can illustrate it.
- In small groups read a version of the Gingerbread story not yet shared in class. As a group, create a poster board explaining the characters and plot of the book, and how this version compares to others read.
- There are lots of gingerbread cookie templates out there that can be used as a fun coloring sheet (perfect for adding a little glitter to), or as the cover for student stories. You could even cut out notebook paper in the same shape and have students write their stories on that.
- Wrap up the unit up by eating gingerbread cookies, and maybe even watching a video version of The Gingerbread Man.
This will be my last En la Clase of the year! I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing winter break! We’ll be back posting at the beginning of January!