A "How-to" Lesson for the The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School

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SWBAT use a part of a story to create a piece of informational "How-to" writing. SWBAT follow a rebus recipe. Student Objective: I can read and follow a recipe to make a gingerbread cookie and then write down the directions.

Big Idea

Learning to follow directions is an essential skill needed for success in school as well as in life. Through participation in this lesson, kindergartners will learn the importance of following directions in a specified sequence.


10 minutes


To begin, I give the children a page that has a rebus recipe on how to make a gingerbread cookie.  The pictures give the children an idea about the ingredients that go into a gingerbread cookie and the procedure for mixing up the dough.  As we look at the page, I ask the children if they know about recipes. We take a few moments to discuss the idea of recipe and then make the connection from recipe to “how to”.  The recipe is a “how- to“ for creating a gingerbread cookie.  Next, we read through the recipe to see if we can figure out what it will make.  This grabs their attention as kindergarteners love guessing games.  We talk about our experiences cooking before we read the story.

Boys and girls, come join me at the rug so that I can share something new with you. Who can tell me what a recipe is all about?  How many of you have followed a recipe before?  A recipe tells us the steps we need to take to make something, usually food.  I am giving you a rebus recipe.  Take a couple of minutes to see if you can figure out what this recipe will make.  Talk it over with a friend to see what they think, too.

If you guessed a gingerbread cookie, you were right!


30 minutes

I begin the procedure by reading the book, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, and looking at the beginning of this story like a how-to book.   By providing the students with some background knowledge, the children get a better understanding of how the story goes together.  Since we are constantly trying to make the connection with informational and narrative text, introducing the layout of this story helps to build the connections that children need to do these comparisons.  After the story is read all the way through, we take that initial section and put the steps for making the gingerbread man in order by using the retelling pictures that are indicated in the resource section.

Today, children you are going to have a chance to create their own cookie dough, but you will need to work as a team to be successful.  Each member of the team will have a specific job.  One person will be in charge of reading the recipe.  One student will be responsible for putting in the dry ingredients.  One person will be responsible for putting in the wet ingredients, and one person will be responsible for mixing it all up.

As we were listening to the story, some of you may have noticed that there were certain steps that needed to be followed in order to create a gingerbread cookie.  Who thinks that they can tell me the steps that are need to create a gingerbread cookie? When the you are able to retell the steps correctly, I will send you back to your tables to try to read the directions from the recipe to create one cookie by making your own cookie dough.  At each of your seats, there is a Cooperative learning job cards for The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School that indicates a specific job. (This is so there will be less arguing about what needs to be done.Each table has a tub of the correct ingredients and utensils, so it is up to you to follow the recipe to make the cookie dough happen.  When your dough is completed, raise your hands for an adult to help you roll out the dough and cut out gingerbread people. Then you will place them on aluminum foil and sprinkle with sugar.  While you are at gym class, I will bake the cookies.

While you are waiting to go to gym, and for your cookies to bake, I want you to write out your own version of How to bake a gingerbread cookie on the attached sheet.  You may use words or pictures to tell the steps that are needed.


15 minutes

The assessment for this lesson is a bit unusual, but very authentic.  It will be in the form and taste of the cookie.  If the children followed the directions correctly, their cookie will be tasty.  If they did not follow the directions carefully, the cookie will not taste very good. I will conference with students to see what they wrote and to see if they were able to accurately retell the recipe's steps.

Boys and girls, how did your cookie work out?  Was it tasty?  Did it look like a gingerbread man?  What do you think went wrong?  What were some things you did right?  One of the things I noticed was that some groups checked and looked back at their recipes to see if they were following the steps in the right order.  Those groups made a cookie.  When a group did not follow the recipe carefully, the result did not look like a cookie.  What do you think this tells you about following the directions for a recipe or a "How-to" ?