Some may believe that being a virtual student limits the range of activities available. However, this is not always the case. In December 2022, the Hillsborough Virtual School Elementary students came together at the Jan Kaminis Platt Library to commemorate the holiday season with the Gingerbread STEAM event. The event incorporated STEAM components from the virtual classroom into a physical setting, offering entertaining games and a read-aloud session featuring two versions of the folktale “The Gingerbread Man.”
The event commenced with students adorning a wintry gingerbread house scene with stickers, which they could take home and display. The students were then introduced three rotating activities, along with a reading of the first story, “Gingerbread Baby” by Jan Brett. The atmosphere was filled with smiles and holiday cheer throughout the event.
Enthusiastic students engaged in three exciting games: the build-a-house activity, the activity, and the build-a-bridge activity. They had a blast constructing a jumbo gingerbread house using boxes and crafting a bridge to the gingerbread man’s mini house with LEGO bricks. While constructing the giant gingerbread house, students embraced trial and error to discover the principles of building a stable structure. This activity fostered collaboration, design skills, and engineering skills. When the initial attempt by group one collapsed, a group member, remarked, “Mistakes make successes!” This motto stayed with the students as they persisted with determination until they successfully completed their gingerbread house.
For the reenactment of “The Gingerbread Man,” students applied their reading comprehension skills to recall the main parts of the story while enjoying the roles of various characters while chasing the gingerbread man. As an added benefit, their lively chase left them pleasantly tired before they settled down to relax and listen to the next story.
The third activity involved building a bridge and house for the gingerbread man using LEGO bricks. A second-grader, expressed her fondness for the LEGO activity, stating, “LEGOs are so fun to build with. I made a bridge that the Gingerbread man can use to get to his house.”
When asked about her favorite part of the day, a fourth-grader, shared, “My favorite part was the Gingerbread Baby story. There’s a part where the pig flings the gingerbread baby into the sky to eat him, and the gingerbread baby cartwheels away to escape. I thought it was pretty funny.”
As an added bonus, students were provided a quick recipe for cinnamon-scented playdough that they could make with the help of a parent or older sibling. The recipe included the necessary components for making the dough, and additional materials like rolling pins and kid-safe cookie cutters can be provided to enhance the fine motor skills of young learners.
More than 20 students and parents attended the event. Students had a wonderful time meeting each other at the library. After the event concluded, parents exchanged contact information to arrange playdates and future get-togethers. The event was a success.