I teach this lesson after a literacy lesson on The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray. I read the story during our literacy block and follow it up with a tour of the school. I tell the students that the gingerbread man is loose in our school and we have to go find him. Prior to the lesson, I hang die cuts of gingerbread men on prominent locations in the school (music room, art room, library, cafeteria, gym, office, etc.). I show the students the die cuts and tell the students that the gingerbread man leaves the die cuts everywhere he goes. As the students practice walking quietly through the hallway, we look for the gingerbread man. When we stop at each location, the students ask the adult in that room if he or she has seen the gingerbread man. The adult always says, "You just missed him!" and points where to go next. This is a great way for the students to get to know the school, meet teachers and other staff at the school, and practice walking quietly in the hallway.
The tour ends back in the classroom where the students find our gingerbread man with a bag of gingerbread man cookies for us to share. It can be hard to find gingerbread man cookies in late August or early September. I usually make my own, but this year I was running a little short on time. I was able to find Pepperidge Farm Gingerman cookies. Most grocery stores in my area carry these year round.
To start the math lesson, I have the students come up to the carpet. I call up one table at the time. As they come up to the carpet, we sing our song:
Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Not on the ceiling, not on the door,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
The students find a spot to sit on the carpet and sit criss cross applesauce with their hands in their laps. I pick up The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School book and ask students to remind me what the story was about. I then ask the students what happened to our gingerbread man. I show the students the gingerbread cookies that our gingerbread man brought us. I say to students, "We are going to eat our cookies, but we are going to practice our sorting too!"
I say, "We are going to sort our friends depending on which part of the gingerbread man they bite off first. I know it is hard to stop eating a cookie after just one bite, so we are going to use these paper gingerbread men to help us remember who bit off what piece." I show the students the paper gingerbread men.
I pull out a gingerbread man and bite off one of his arms. I hold him up and show the students that I only bit off a small piece. I then take scissors and cut off one of the paper gingerbread man's arms. I hold up my gingerbread man cookie and my gingerbread man paper to show that they are both missing an arm. I tell students, "After you have your gingerbread man paper, you may finish eating your cookie."
I have the students return to their seats. I tell the students that only students who are sitting quietly will get their cookie. I walk around to each student, hand them a cookie, ask them to bite off a piece, and cut their gingerbread man picture. I have all of the students watch as each student does this. I stay very excited and animated as I do this. The more excited I am the more excited the students get. As long as the students are excited, they stay engaged as each student gets a turn.
When all students have finished their cookies, I say, "Now we need to sort ourselves. I bit off the gingerbread man's arm. If you bit off the gingerbread man's arm, come stand with me. Bring your paper with you." I then have the students who bit off a leg first stand together, and the students who bit off the head stand together. Then I ask, "What did we just do?" The response I'm looking for would be, "We sorted our friends based on which part of the cookie they bit off first." If I don't get the full response (and I probably won't) it is critical to keep stretching students to provide the remainder of the information, rather than supplying it yourself. This is their math work. I also ask, "Which group has more?" When a student gives an answer, I ask, "How do you know?" I let students give ideas. If no students bring it up, I suggest that we make a graph using our gingerbread man papers.
I have all students sit down on the floor where they are so that they are still sorted into their groups. I show them the graph paper that I created. I draw a picture of a head, arm and leg across the bottom of a large piece of paper and labeled each one. I also write a title at the top. I put tape on the back of my gingerbread man and model how to put him on the graph starting at the bottom.
I invite the students from the arm group to come up and add their picture. I then continue with the other groups. When we are finished, I have the students help me count how many of each picture there are and write it above. I then ask, "Which group has more? Remember more means we have a lot." Students will be able to easily see this on the graph. On our graph it was heads. A lot of students like biting off the head! Then I ask, "Which group has less? Remember less means there is only a little bit." On our graph it was the foot group.
I tell students, "Now you will have a chance to do some sorting of your own." I show students plastic trays filled with pattern blocks, and say, "We are going to sort pattern blocks again today. Remember you need to group the blocks that are alike." I review the rules for group work. I have students model following and not following each rule.
Share the materials in the tray.
Materials are to be pulled out as needed. (The tray does not need to be dumped out.)
Talk in quiet voices.
I remind students that when the clean up song comes on, they need to put all of their materials back into the tray and put their heads down. I have students return to their seats and give each table a tray of pattern blocks. I circulate throughout the room to ensure that students are sorting.
I don't have the students sort as long this time since the gingerbread man activity takes awhile and they are using the same manipulatives as the day before. During this lesson, I was able to quickly pull two students for our beginning of the year baseline assessment. To clean up, I turn on the clean up song. I use Dr. Jean’s Tidy Up. This song is on the album All Day Long with Dr. Jean.
There are many wonderful transition songs to be found, for free, online if you'd like to use music for transitions too.
I close this lesson by inviting students back up to the carpet. I have several students share what they did at their seats. I mention positive things that I noticed during the practice time such as, "I noticed how you remembered to use your inside voices."
I also include something that needs to be better next time such as, "Tomorrow we need to remember to start cleaning up as soon as the clean up song comes on." I review what we did during our whole group lesson. "Today we sorted ourselves based on which part of the gingerbread cookie we bit off first. Let's look at our graph one more time. Look we had more friends bite off the head first, and we had less friends bite off the foot." I then tell students what we are going to do tomorrow. "Tomorrow we are going to continue to learn about how to sort."