Gingerbread Week Ideas for Social Emotional Learning in the Primary Classroom

Gingerbread Week Ideas for Kids
Gingerbread Week is typically celebrated shortly before Christmas/ winter break in elementary school. But don’t get your gumdrops in a tizzy if you have never heard of it!
In the name of setting boundaries, choose what works best for you and your children or students, & if you just candy cannot with another cohesive themed event, then know that you are not less of a teacher, counselor or parent.
For those who are thematic fanatics and are ready for some sweet gingerbread-themed activities- keep on reading to find out my favorite picks to support social emotional learning at home, in the primary classroom or during small counseling groups. 
Looking for community buy-in? Here's a blurb you can share with admin: "In order to best prepare my students for an upheaval of  their routine, I am integrating social emotional learning into my program guised as Gingerbread Week- an opportunity to support empathy and self-regulation which will set them up for success as we head into the new year."
Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me with my gingerbread breaths!
For this winter craft, you will need:
∙ A paper plate
∙ Paint for the sky
∙ Q-tips to make a snowfall effect
∙ A popsicle stick
∙ Scissors
∙ Glue
∙ A drawn or printed gingerbread man (I found mine as a freebie here)
Gingerbread Week Winter Breathing Exercise for Kids
1. Have your child paint the sky (nighttime, daytime, anytime goes). Have them plan it out to create some kind of hill or mountain with the negative white space. Heck, you can even have them add skis to their gingerbread buddy!
2. Once the coats dry, have them add some snow by dabbing a Q-tip in white paint.
3. Have them draw a gingerbread man, or print one off and cut it out. 
4. Adhere the gingerbread man to a popsicle stick. I used hot glue for longevity. You may also want to decide to laminate the gingerfriend for the same reason. 
5. Help cut a line across the top of the snowbank.
6. Invite them to write numbers 1-3 across the bottom of their plate and insert the popsicle stick + gingie into the slit that you have cut. 
To use: 
They will gently drag the popsicle stick across the three numbers and inhale as they do so. They can either exhale after they count, or exhale as their gingerbread moonwalks backwards back to the start.
You can watch it in action here
To complement this activity you can check out our newest mindful breathing YouTube video on gingerbread breaths!
Check it out below:
Get your children excited about giving over receiving this holiday season, with this epic, little-to-no-prep digital countdown. There may have been a year when I was cool with coming in an hour early to set up our Super Monkey mascot in different Elf on the Shelf-esque poses, each becoming more absurd and hilarious for our class- but now I use this countdown because it maintains the whimsy, without the work.
3. Gingerbread Sensory Tray
Adding gingerbread extract to homemade Playdoh has been so well received in our primary classes in the past. It's such a simple way to add a little razzle dazzle to dramatic play and integrate mindfulness into everyday activities and role play. I also adore the gingerbread salt alternative, as it becomes a whole sensory experience. Check out the ingredients you will need to make your own, at the Imagination Tree blog here
Your child can practice their letter formation, drawing emotions, or you could add loose parts for free play!
Best gingerbread activities for kids
Confession: I am terrible at gingerbread house building. I can't for the life of me get the pieces to stand up straight, and usually just go with a zombie apocalypse vibe so that looking destroyed is on theme. Pro tip: If you are looking to build gingerbread houses with a larger group of kids, I suggest graham crackers over gingerbread!
However, if you're wanting to avoid all sticky mess and make a massive difference, I've got the craft for you. This Gingerbread Chill Shack is the perfect craft that keeps giving that children can use over the holidays to help them regulate their emotions. 

After adding their own flare to their shack with the included build a gingerbread house accessories, they will then add in their own, or choose from the pre-written coping skills to add to the inside of their paper bag.
This kindness suitcase activity was created because a) I wanted to give a student gift that didn't break the bank, and b) to set my community circles in the new year up to shift focus from what we did or where we went, to how we made people feel
Simply set it up as a team-building activity in December and have students decorate or design the sweaters for their gingerbread man and suitcase. Then, add some optional kindness challenges inside (e.g., Bingo, secret notes, trackers) inside to send home with them on the last day before winter break!
If you group emotions by color coding in your home or classroom, you'll love this free gingerbread-themed, winter regulation sort for Google Slides.
Click any of the images to grab your free activity!
7. STEM Activities
Inspire some empathy, by having your kids create a boat to get their gingerbread across the river. You can add elements that blend in with your curriculum, such as simple machines, motion, etc. At the end, focus on the process vs. product and have them reflect on their collaboration skills, problem-solving, growth mindset, etc.
8. Gingerbread Brain Breaks
With all that sugar and spice, they're going to need to get up, sing aloud and boogie down! Here are some fun gingerbread-themed movement and singing breaks that you can access by clicking the video stills below:
What's your favorite gingerbread activity to do at home or as a class? 
Let me know below!
Choose SEL & Be Well,
      Namaste in School



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