Classroom discussion prompts and activities across the curriculum. Gingerbread Friends lends itself to many areas
of study and can be
easily incorporated into Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Art, and
Science lesson plans. Use the questions and activities below to
encourage the application of critical thinking strategies and skills
and to foster a deeper connection for students with the text,
illustrations, and story.
“But then he heard some singing, and a trail of cupcakes caught his eye.
He climbed the stairs, and you’ll never guess what he found!”
• Read Gingerbread Friends aloud to your class. Before turning to the very
last page, invite students to work in groups to make predictions about
what the Gingerbread Baby might find at the top of the stairs. Encourage
them to think deeply about what the Baby has been looking for and
what might excite him the most to find. Each group should record their
predictions on individual white boards or pieces of paper. Ask each
student to read and share his or her prediction of how the story will
end—then turn the page, and find out! Guide students in confirming and
adjusting their predictions after examining the final spread.
• The Gingerbread Baby speaks in rhyming verse. Explore rhyming words
within the context of poems. Give examples of other places where rhymes
are used, such as songs (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) or other books.
Students should then each write their own four-line verse. In a shared
writing activity, guide your students in making a list of rhyming words.
Record the words on sentence strip cards and display them in a pocket
chart in the front of the room. Students can use the words as a reference,
similar to a word bank, when they write their own poems.
• Model writing a descriptive sentence using one of the characters or
on the last page of the story as your subject. Prompt your students to
turns guessing which character or object you’ve described. Students
should then each write their own descriptive sentence about a different
character or object on the page. Encourage them to use creative adjectives
in their writing. In small groups, students can take turns reading their
sentences and guessing which characters or objects their classmates
• Discuss the concepts of community and friendship with your students.
How are they similar and how are they different? How is your classroom
like a community? What does it mean to be a friend? Where and how can
you develop friendships within your community? Ask students to imagine
taking their decorated Gingerbread cut-out around your community and
introducing their Gingerbread Friend to each person they meet. Who would
they meet at the post office, library, bank, park, or museum? What sorts
activities or games might they play or conversations might they have with
the people they meet in each of these places? Extend this activity by
asking your students to actually take their new Gingerbread Friend to one
of the places listed above and then report their experience to the class.
• Have your students create a second Gingerbread Friend that resembles
themselves (hair color, eye color, favorite outfit). Guide your students
writing a friendly letter on the back of their cutout. Suggest that they
include three things about themselves in their letter. Coordinate with
another class in your district or school to use the gingerbread cutouts as
the basis for a pen pal program. Match each student in your class with a
student in the other participating class and facilitate the mailing of
Gingerbread Friends to each other. This is a great opportunity to teach
students how to address envelopes and write letters!
• Weather plays a big part in the settings of Gingerbread Baby and
Gingerbread Friends. Both books are set in the winter, which is the season
when people traditionally bake gingerbread cookies. Ask your students to
imagine that the story was set first in spring, then summer, and then
In each season, what would be different about the story? What might the
cover of the book look like without snow? What would they see in the
if the grass, trees, and homes weren’t covered in snow? Instead of skiing
and skating, what other activities would Mattie do with his friends?
• Jan Brett’s art helps bring a beauty and emotion to her story plots,
making her books instant classics. Collaborate with your school’s art
teacher to develop a lesson connected to the artwork in Gingerbread
Friends. What colors are most used? Do any elements reappear throughout
the pages? Guide a discussion about the different characters the
Gingerbread Baby meets as he is searching for a new friend. Distribute
sheets of paper so that students can participate in a drawing activity.
them to use their imaginations to create a brand new character, not seen
in Gingerbread Friends, but who could be a good friend for the Gingerbread
• The special side borders on each page of Gingerbread Friends include a
recipe for making gingerbread cookies. Emphasize to your students the
importance of paying attention to detail and carefully reading
instructions. Using large chart paper, guide your students in a shared
writing activity as you reread the story and record the recipe and
to make gingerbread cookies. Then review math measurement units with
your class, focusing on the units used in the recipe. Bring in gingerbread
ingredients and cooking tools to make Gingerbread Friends out of real gingerbread! Let each child decorate his or her own cookie.
• Ask your students to examine the last page of the book, which features
many friends that Mattie has baked for the Gingerbread Baby. How many
friends do they count? How many are gingerbread people, and how many
are animals? Create a graph or chart detailing your class’s findings.
GINGERBREAD FRIEND ACTIVITY
Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends are great books to
in lessons to orient young students to their new classroom and classmates.
Photocopy the next page and hand one sheet out to each student in your
class. Invite your students to decorate their Gingerbread Friends. Suggest
that they include pictures that represent themselves and their hobbies
and/or interests in the space around the figure. Help your students cut
new Gingerbread Friends out and hang them around the room or on your
classroom door. Try hanging them side-by-side in a line down the hallway
from the front door of the school to your classroom (or from the library
cafeteria) so that students who may not yet know their way around the
school can use the trail of Gingerbread Friends as a map to their