Thursday, January 3, 2013

Catching Up, Part II

Follow Me on Pinterest In December we do lots of activities to go along with Jan Brett's The Gingerbread Baby.  There are so many great gingerbread packets available on TPT.  There are many I would love to own, and I have a difficult time restraining myself.  My all time favorite packets were created by Fran Kramer.  They're jam packed with wonderful activities.  Click here to check out her literacy activities. 

Her math activities can be found here.

Our culminating activity is to make individual gingerbread houses for each child in class. WH spends the day helping to make the houses.  He makes the best icing!  My partner gave me the recipe the first year we worked together.  Previously I used eggs.  However considering all the problems raw eggs can cause, I don't think that's a good idea anymore.  The recipe calls for Wilton's Merengue Powder in place of eggs.  It's pretty pricy, so I always pick it up at Michael's with one of my 40% off coupons. If you click on the link you will find a picture of the can and a recipe, but it's not the one we use.  Here's our recipe:

1 box confectioner's sugar
5 TBSP merengue powder
1/2 cup water.

Put the merengue powder and sugar in your mixer bowl.  Start the mixer on slow and then begin to add the water.  After incorporating all the water, beat on high until it's thick and glossy. About 7-10 minutes.  If it gets too thick, you can always add a little more water.

First thing in the morning, the kiddos attach their milk carton to a 6" cake base using a generous dollop of icing.  Then they put up the graham cracker walls and roof.  Paper plates can be used in place of cake bases.

After the houses sit for an hour or so, we decorate them.  It's the MOST fun!

Last year WH and I found the cutest gingerbread trays at Winco.  They have 6 compartments and a lid.  We bought three in order to have one tray for every two children.  It makes it easier for the them to reach what they need.

I like to wrap the houses before sending them home.  In the past I used Saran wrap, but it's very hard to work with.  So this year I looked for an alternative.  I found these terrific gift basket bags at Michael's.  They are the best!  Wrapping took a lot less time this year.  We just plopped the houses into the bags and tied them up with ribbon.  

When shopping, it was really tough to choose a size.  I ended up buying the large bags.  You can see that they are a bit big.  Next year I'm going to purchase medium bags. 

This project is costly.  It does help to pick up the cake rounds, bags and merengue powder throughout the year as I get discount coupons.  I bought the ribbon just before Christmas when they put it on sale for 70% off.  It's sitting in my studio waiting for next year.  I also like to do the shopping for the candy and sugar.  It's just easier than trying to explain what I need from each family.  The parents are always happy to give me a few dollars and let me do the work.

I just read about a shop in NYC that sounds fantastic.  I'd love to be able to do my December candy shopping at Dylan's Candy Bar.  It's the creation of Ralph Lauren's daughter, and it looks like an amazing place to visit.

I can't seem to upload the video for Dylan's, so I'll have to make a separate entry for it.  

I hope your new year is off to a great start!