Teaching with gingerbread

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Kindergartner Travis Kostedt wouldn’t call it Christmas magic – no many how many times he was prompted – but he did say he was in awe about how the gingerbread dough turned from a soft gooey mass into a thick pasty substance.

“I like mixing it when we put it in the mixer,” he said. “It starts soft and gets thicker and thicker and bigger and bigger until it looks like peanut butter.”

No, Kostedt was not in the midst of an edible science experiment, he was one of the dozens of kids who packed Tucumcari Elementary School’s cafeteria Tuesday in their annual Kindergarten Gingerbread Bake.

“Or you can call it something like that,” said teacher David Mardo when asked the official name of the event, after explaining how it all began last year as a brainstorm between the kindergarten teachers.

Since it was such a rousing success, Mardo said above the din of children piping holiday tunes, they decided to do it every year.

In addition to coloring pictures of gingerbread men, mixing dough for gingerbread men and finally eating gingerbread men, Mardo said the students are exposed to every lesson the teachers can think of regarding – quite naturally – gingerbread men.

“In my class we do a math activity when we are mixing the dough together,” Mardo said. “It’s a seasonal thematic lesson we do all week long.”

He explained how biology even fits into the lessons, with discussions on how the gingerbread men may look when they are moving or running, and his class also puts on a skit while they are waiting for the dough to bake in the oven.

Of course, Mardo said, it also enables the kids to use their imagination.

Student Sydney Goldsten, who said her favorite part of the event was decorating the cookies, said she was going to make her gingerbread man pink.

“It’s my favorite color,” she said, adding she does not think Christmas should get rid of red and green and instead pick pink, but she did ask for a pink Tinkerbell blanket this year.

In addition to the lessons and the learning, Mardo said one major fact will keep the gingerbread bake coming back year after year.

“Oh, it’s really fun,” Mardo said. “When we whipped up the dough, we had flour everywhere…eggshells in the dough. But we took them out,” he quickly added.