The holidays are upon us, and that means many teachers are on the hunt for meaningful, and highly engaging, activities to keep students focused during what is already a hectic – but fun – time period.
Well, have I got a TREAT in store for you! I’ve teamed up with hoopla digital to share one of my absolute favorite winter holiday STEAM units with you! Now I can’t possibly go over everything for the whole unit in just one post, so I’m going to give a brief overview of the learning that leads up to the big STEAM challenge at the end of the unit – and stick around for that FREEBIE lesson plan at the end of this post!
Oh, and if you missed my posts where I shared FREEBIE lesson plans for a Snowflake STEAM challenge or a Mechanical Animal STEAM challenge, make sure you click the challenge(s) you’re interested in and grab your copy!
Why is hoopla digital so helpful to teachers?
I’m so thankful for hoopla and the vast array of educational and STEAM related content they offer. I seriously would drive myself crazy if I had to track down hard copies of all of the resources they already offer in one place!
Beyond books that we can use for whole group instruction, the read along books they offer are PERFECT for a listen to reading center, and for some books they even have video versions which can be a special treat at the end of the day during this holiday season!
Planning your gingerbread STEAM challenge.
The very first thing you want to do is plan what gingerbread stories you will read together as a class. Fortunately, hoopla digital has a ton of variations of the gingerbread story right on their platform!
You’ll want a nice variety, because the first part of the unit is diving deep into the patterns used in these stories, character similarities betweens stories, and comparing sequence of events. This is a great time to bust out some venn diagrams or even keep a large chart paper that tracks the story elements between each version.
If you’re looking for a nice tie in to your writing block, have the students create and write their own versions of a gingerbread story – I’m telling you they get SO creative!
Once you’ve read/compared/contrasted all of the versions you chose, what’s next?
Here’s where things get really fun! After you’ve read each title using the hoopla digital platform, and you’ve completed your deep dive into patterns, characters, etc. this is where I love to make a gingerbread character with my students!
We start by deciding which of the gingerbread characters we’d like to recreate – in the past my students have chosen the gingerbread baby, the ninjabread man, and most recently the gingerbread girl because, surprise, she is the only one who outsmarts the fox! Here’s what a couple past projects have looked like!
I bring in all of the ingredients to bake our own gingerbread and we work together to mix, form, and decorate! I’m always sure to snap a picture of our creation before it heads to the oven. Now, if you don’t have an oven at your school, don’t fret. You may be able to have the cafeteria help, bring in a toaster oven (check with admin on this), or simply take it home to bake (the kiddos won’t be eating it anyway so no worries about it sitting out).
While our special friend is baking, I have the kiddos work on some simple writing using adjectives that describe our character. When time is up, we march right down to find our gingerbread character has escaped! This is where you’ll need some help of a team mate, admin, etc. All that’s left are some crumbs!
Your kiddos will absolutely shriek with excitement and now is the PERFECT time to bring in the STEAM!
**Warning: Your kids will be talking about the escaped gingerbread character for weeks to come!**
Capitalize on their excitement and create gingerbread traps
We brainstorm how we can catch our gingerbread character, and voila! We always seem to end up on creating a trap to catch it.
Now, I’ve got a whole lesson plan for you that is available for FREE that walks you through the five step engineering process for this STEAM Gingerbread Trap Challenge.
Grab your free copy of this lesson plan guide by joining my email list below. You’ll be sent the password to visit the Freebies section of my website. Want more ideas for STEAM lessons – click here or here.
How can you continue to use hoopla throughout the school year?
The real question is, how could you not?! Once you’ve experienced how easy it is to access all of their educational and STEAM-related material, why go back to doing it the hard way? Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a time and place for those good ol’ hard copy books, but hoopla digital opens the door for so many STEAM opportunities – whether it’s a downright STEAM title or books (like the gingerbread series) that you use to create a STEAM experience for your students.
The possibilities are endless! So get creative and get your kiddos ACTIVE in their learning! I’d love to know how you have or are planning to use hoopla digital in your classroom. Leave a comment below and share how you’ve used their resources!