Engineering Gingerbread Houses

In the twenty-first century, there is a need to produce students who are skilled to fill jobs in the STEM fields to continue our country's tradition of innovation. First-grade students, in conjunction with the Christmas holiday, implemented the Engineering Design Process by designing and constructing gingerbread houses. This activity reinforced STEAM (Science,Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) skills that foster twenty-first century learning in the classroom. Prior to building their gingerbread houses, students drafted a sketch of what they wanted their houses to look like as well as which materials they were going to use to create those effects. The materials that were used were donated by first-grade families, including pretzels, licorice, icing, and gumdrops. Parent-volunteers assisted all students during the construction process. Students reflected on their finished products through writing. Students and parents had a wonderful time building their gingerbread houses! This is just one example of how implementing higher-level skills such as engineering can be done at the first-grade level—and at the same time, it was a whole lot of delicious fun!