Gingerbread Man Literacy Unit & Stem Challenge

Gingerbread Man Literacy Unit with Stem Challenge by The Reading Roundup

When I started teaching, we planned everything by thematic units. Since then the words "rigor" and "Common Core Standards" have become more prevalent and thematic units seem to be a thing of the past. I missed the fun and creativity of thematic units, so I implemented a Gingerbread Man unit with my 3rd graders which was standards based. Continue reading to find out more!

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The 3rd grade team was focusing on the skill of comparing and contrasting which naturally lent itself to a unit on the various versions of Gingerbread Man stories. I began by working with our school librarian to collect a large collection of Gingerbread stories. (Click to see a list of suggested Gingerbread books to use!)


Even though 3rd grade was working on comparing and contrasting during their LA block, the students in my remediation group were continuing to struggle with story elements and retelling. As a result, we first practiced this skill with individual books before working on the more advance skill of comparing books. 

As I read various Gingerbread stories to the students, they each had a story map. They recorded the story elements and wrote the events from the beginning, middle, and end of the book.
Click to purchase the dry erase pockets.
The students used a story map similar to the one in the picture above. I love placing story maps in the dry erase pockets to reuse the graphic organizers again and again. Students can use dry erase makers or post-it notes to allow for reuse.

gingerbread man book chart

After we read each Gingerbread book, we added it to a chart. We recorded the following story elements for each book: setting, characters, problem, and solution. You can create an anchor chart to keep track of the books, but I decided to document it digitally using Padlet. (Click here to learn more about using Padlet for your literacy instruction).

Gingerbread Man Literacy Unit with Stem Challenge by The Reading Roundup: Compare and Contrast Stories digitally with Padlet
The Padlet we created to compare the story elements in various Gingerbread books.

compare and contrast

After reading several Gingerbread books to the students, I allowed them to pick a book to read with a buddy that was at their independent reading level. We then worked to complete a venn diagram together to compare the two stories. Since we had done so much scaffolding and work together over the previous days it allowed the students to be successful with this skill.

Gingerbread Man Literacy Unit with Stem Challenge by The Reading Roundup: Venn Diagram to Compare and Contrast Gingerbread Stories

stem activity

For our culminating activity we read the book The Gingerbread Pirates which the students LOVE. As I read the book, we discussed the problems in the story. We chose two problems in the story: the captain needed to find his pirate crew and he also needed a ship. The students selected which problem they would like to solve and we made it into a stem activity! Our school purchased HUGE Imagination Playground Engineering Blocks with a grant, which is what we decided to use. But you can just as easily use wooden blocks, crafts sticks with tape, or play-doh to create a solution to the problem in the story. As you can imagine, this hands on literacy extension activity was a HUGE hit with the students! They keep asking when we can do this again! 

Gingerbread Man Literacy Unit with Stem Challenge by The Reading Roundup
Students built a solution to the problem in the story Gingerbread Pirates.

the value of thematic units

The students enjoyed all of the activities and kept asking me if we could do more. Not only that, they were able to master various literacy skills through this unit including: story elements, retelling, problem/solution, and compare/contrast. By completing a thematic unit such as this, we are able to teach students the standards in a more engaging and authentic manner!

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Let's make learning more engaging for students and bring back thematic units! In this Gingerbread Man literacy unit, we focus on the following skills: story elements, retelling, and compare/contrast. The culminating activity is a STEM challenge that students are sure to LOVE! The Reading Roundup

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