12.26.2010

Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" Houses

Hi everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

We spent time with friends and family, and now I am enjoying the serenity of not having to get anything done for the big event.  The kids are all happily occupied with fun surprises from Santa, snow is gently falling outside my window, and I am savoring my coffee while catching up on blog reading.  Blissful!
These little buddies get together for gingerbread house making every year.  We squeezed it in before Christmas, but now I'm sorry because I think this would make a really fun afternoon to spend together over Christmas vacation.   Next year I am definitely proposing that we save this fun and messy activity for AFTER the holidays! 

Look at these unique and beautiful works of art!  I see 6 future architects and home designers here!
If you haven't made them this year with your kiddos, try this {lazy} method.

Mix up the sugar "glue" that holds the pieces together. 
>>To make royal icing properly, beat 1 lb. confectionary sugar, 3 large egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar for 7-10 minutes until very thick.  Place into bag for piping and keep covered or it will harden too quickly.
>>To make royal icing improperly - for kids who like to lick their fingers while building their houses - just mix together 1 lb. confectionary sugar with a bit of water until it is the consistency of toothpaste.  Add the water slowly, starting with 3 tablespoons, as it requires very little.  If the consistency is too thin, add more sugar. 

Be creative in what you decorate with.
Use graham crackers for the walls. Rummage through your pantry for any foods that might make a fun house.  Stale licorice - perfect!  Leftover candy from Halloween that no one likes - great!  Cereal is always fun, especially Frosted Mini-Wheats that make great roof tiles with snow already on them.  Coconut makes great snow.  Popcorn is fun to use also.  Of course, we did buy some candy and turned a blind eye while the kids ate half and used the rest to decorate with - isn't that part of the fun??

We gave each child a baggy half-filled with icing, snipped off a very small corner, and showed them how to squeeze the icing out.  They glued the bottom of the graham cracker "walls" to their paper plate.  The kids had creative freedom to design and construct any shape they wanted and it was quite funny trying to get the structures to stay up!  After building the structure, we let them set for a few minutes before decorating.
{Tip:  buy individual-sized milk or juice cartons, have the kids consume the contents and then glue the graham crackers right to the box.  This is very useful for little ones.)

Landscape your little house.
I quickly whipped up a batch of Rice Krispy Treats (using the recipe on the box) and colored it green to use as Christmas trees along with the gingerbread houses.  Simply add green food coloring to the melted butter & marshmallows before adding the Rice Krispies.  Turn out the marshmallow-coated cereal onto wax paper and using a spatula, divide into pieces.  When cooled slightly, spray your hands with Pam (to make handling the cereal easier), and then let each child form the Rice Krispy treats into the shape of bushes or evergreen trees and decorate with icing and candies if desired.  The RKTs also make great wreaths for the houses.  The kids loved this step.

Here are the architects with their masterpieces - a happy memory of a fun afternoon - and bellies full of sweet treats! 
Do something that makes you smile today!

I love hearing from you! {Comments welcome!}

3 comments:

Nicole said...

Hi Lisa... Happy Holidays! I make these gingerbread houses in class with my third graders every year. I actually tell myself that the year I don't make them will be a sign that I need to retire. It's so much fun ;) ~ Nicole

Rene said...

What fun! I love it when the older kids join in and enjoy the simple things like making gingerbread houses. I think the holidays help us all to slow down and enjoy those moments.

Love your gallery wall, by the way :)

-Rene

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post....one of my favorites ---one of my favorite activities for the kiddies!

ntb