Years ago, when I was teaching preschool, I came across this activity and loved it! As soon as my kids were old enough to appreciate it, I gave it a try with them (they probably were not actually old enough, but I couldn’t wait). They talk about it all year, and I am pretty sure it’s a tradition that will be with us far past the actual mystery of it all.
Are you curious? When we baked our Gingerbread Cookies (click on the link to find the lesson plan for that one) I made one of the gingerbread men extra special.
what you need: Gingerbread cookies (in the oven or cooling on the rack) ~ brown construction paper ~ Gingerbread Hunt Clues~ a partner (or a plan on how to distract the kids while you place the clues)
The night before you are going to bake the cookies, prepare the gingerbread clues. Print out the clues I have provided, or make up your own. It doesn’t matter if they rhyme or if you are a great writer, your kids will be so excited all they will be thinking is “THE GINGERBREAD MAN LEFT ME A CLUE!!!” You can leave them as sheets of white copy paper, or you can add a little extra by gluing a frame around each card.
In order to prepare our gingerbread escapee I used a toothpick to make two eyes and a smile. I used chocolate candies for the buttons, and then let him bake along with the others. While the cookies were baking, I distracted M & M with a quick book, and my husband removed only the fancy cookie from the oven. (He waited until it was completely done.) He replaced the cookie with clue #1. He then put each clue in the hiding place I had instructed. Once the book was done we returned to the kitchen to check on the cookies. The search was on!
Tips (to maximize learning): 1. I have included two personalized clues, you can change the names on your computer, write the clues out so they are relevant to your child, or just leave those two out. 2. Last year I did this activity alone with the kids. Since I had to be creative with placing the clues, I set them up watching a show in my room. While they were distracted I hid the clues and the gingerbread man. When we heard the timer we ran down to check on the cookies. (The activity was so exciting, they forgot about the show!)
Questions (to ask your kids): “Which clue was the hardest to figure out? Why?” “Where would you hide if you were a gingerbread man?” “Why do you think the gingerbread man went back to where he started?”