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The finished product. Photo: Sarah Harris
The finished product. Photo: Sarah Harris

Inside school: making gingerbread houses

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Canton first graders are having fun before the holidays making gingerbread houses. There's a trick: they use a milk carton for the base and plaster it with graham crackers, frosting, and candy. It's a classic holiday activity.

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Reported by

Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

Mrs. Knowlton gives directions. Photo: Sarah Harris
Mrs. Knowlton gives directions. Photo: Sarah Harris
Mrs. Knowlton’s first graders can barely contain their excitement.

"Raise your hand please," she tells the class. "What’s the most exciting part, Hunter, we’ve been waiting for all day?"

"Making gingerbread houses!" Hunter exclaims. 

Mrs. Knowlton is young, theatrical and fun. She’s wearing sparkly eyeliner and smiles as the class gathers around to hear the instructions. 

Candy land. Photo: Sarah Harris
Candy land. Photo: Sarah Harris
"Ok the time has come," she says. "So here’s what you’re going to do: everybody has 6 pieces of gingerbread, it’s graham crackers, that what you need to do is get stuck on your milk carton. So I’m going to explain to you how to do that."

She says the most important part is to use the frosting like glue.

She demonstrates how to stick the carton to a plate and paste on the graham crackers. And then comes the exciting part: decorations.

"So some people when they get their gingerbread done, they like to decorate around their plate with their candy too – like a sidewalk, sometimes they take pretzel pieces and make wood for the fire place or they  make a tootsie roll roof." 

Construction underway! Photo: Sarah Harris
Construction underway! Photo: Sarah Harris
Kids sit down at their tables and get started. Parent volunteers help them plaster on the graham crackers.

Hunter explains how it works.

"You've got to put frosting on the cups and you've got to put graham crackers on the sides when you put them on the roof." 

I ask Hunter if he plans to eat any of it. 

"Maybe I don’t know!"

Nearby, Aiden and his dad are working together.   

They’re putting up graham cracker walls too.

Next, Eden says, it's time to put the candy on. And his favorite part will be adding the gummy bears. 

It’s big-time industry in the classroom. Miraculously, there are no major messes, and it all goes off without a hitch. 

I ask Mrs. Knowlton if she’s ever nervous that something will go wrong.

"At times," she replies. "We have one student who’s gluten free, another student who’s kosher, you know all of these things to think about, I have such great support parent wise, other teacher wise, the kids know who can have what that it goes so great, you know , they really rise to the occasion and take responsibility it’s a lot of fun."

She says days like this matter.

"They’re 6. They need time to play, they need time to engage." 

And the gingerbread houses are particularly fun.

"You know you’ll see them put one piece on eat a piece, put one on, eat a piece, which is adorable so."

"Over at his table, Eden is sneaking a bite.

 "[I'm] licking the frosting off of my fingers!" he says.

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