Colorful candy constitutes beautiful roofing. Pieces of chocolate serve as an inviting walkway to the front door. As gorgeous as the house is, the learning and joy associated with kindergarten students’ work on the gingerbread house is even more impressive.
Students in Mrs. Murawski’s kindergarten class at Magruder Elementary School knew that their work mattered. One reason they fully committed themselves to carefully designing and constructing the gingerbread house was because they are donating the house to a local senior citizen’s home to bring joy during this holiday season.
At the start of the construction project, Mrs. Murawski convened her students for a design team meeting. Each student chose to serve on a committee which planned one aspect of the job. For example, the landscaping committee planned the layout and creation of the yard while the roof committee developed ideas for the top of the house. These five year old children learned a lot about team work. Mrs. Murawski commented that one of the biggest challenge for students was "working with a committee of students, making decisions together and realizing that you have to compromise. As they came together with their research information and began to share the ideas with each other they realized that they may indeed like what they saw in their classmate's research booklet."
Each committee created a blueprint for their aspect of the job and then the class created a master plan linking the work of the separate project teams. The father of one of the students, who works in the construction business, visited the class to explain blueprints, provide advice, and talk about his career in construction.
|This student stands below the Master Plans.|
Although the gingerbread house was prominently displayed near the entrance of the classroom when I visited, signs of the complexity of the project were clear. Several students showed me the project timeline and explained that listing the steps of the project helped them complete it. One student proudly held up the blueprint for the front of the house that he helped create. Another student showed off the master plans. Click on the icon below to listen to a third student explain how he felt after completing the construction project.
I am incredibly impressed with the strong work ethic displayed by Mrs. Murawski’s students. Their effort and the quality of their work, however, stems largely from the fact that Mrs. Murawski gave them work that mattered. Students made choices regarding what work they would do and how they would do it. They had the opportunity to be creative and to be problem solvers. They knew they were making a product that others would value. Hats off to Mrs. Murawski for providing her students work that matters because this project also made a difference for students in terms of the development of important skills and knowledge. The construction of the gingerbread house was a sweet experience for all involved!