Math Activity Themes: Gingerbread Man Math

Gingerbread Man Math Activities

Gingerbread men and gingerbread houses enjoy special popularity around the holidays, but many of these gingerbread activities are timeless and complement literature titles that teachers use at the beginning of school or after the holidays. It's very easy to incorporate mathematics into a study of gingerbread men, and students will enjoy the data collection activities and games while learning math skills and deepening their understanding of important mathematical concepts.

Look through these math activities and add some to your repertoire. Consider broadening the gingerbread math to include measurement, games and problem solving this year.

Gingerbread Person Math Mat

Use a gingerbread person math mat to model addition sentences. Students may roll a die and place that many counters on one gingerbread person. The student rolls the die again and places that many counters on the other gingerbread person. Next, the student writes a number sentence in the spaces provided.

Variation: Insert the gingerbread math mat in a sheet protector and give the student a dry erase marker. Have the student toss a die and make that many tally marks on one of the gingerbread persons. The student tosses the die again and makes that many tally marks on the other gingerbread person. Finally, the student writes a number sentence in the spaces provided below the gingerbread persons.

Gingerbread Man Measurement

Students will measure using a gingerbread man as a non-standard unit of measurement. Give each student a gingerbread man cutout. Place brightly colored number labels on the objects to be measured so that students can move easily from station to station. Tell students that they will measure today using their gingerbread man. Without moving from seats, ask students to estimate the height or length of objects in the classroom by eyeballing them. They should record their estimates of how many gingerbread men tall or wide each object is on the Gingerbread Man Measurement recording sheet. Next, ask them to circle the object they predict will be the largest. After this, allow students to walk around the room and measure the objects with their gingerbread men. Teacher should move around the room, observing students measuring and lead a discussion at the conclusion of the measurement activity. Please note that blanks have been intentionally left on the recording sheet so that teachers are able to add items from their own classrooms.

Bigger or Smaller than a Gingerbread Man?

Give each student a gingerbread man cutout and a Measuring with the Gingerbread Man recording sheet, Explain how to use the sheet which has both words and picture cues for non-readers. Ask students to walk around the room and measure classroom objects using their gingerbread man. They then draw a picture or write the word in the correct column to show whether it is smaller than, about the same size, or bigger than their gingerbread man. If the classroom has objects labeled with words for literacy purposes, students may easily copy these words onto their worksheets.

Gingerbread Man Symmetry

Be sure to have students fold a gingerbread man in half to see that it is a symmetric figure because one half folds directly over the other half and they match completely. Following a symmetry mini-lesson, provide a number of gingerbread men in the math center that have been prefolded. Be sure to include some that are purposely not symmetrical for this activity. Number the gingerbread men. Ask students to separate them into two groups: gingerbread men that are symmetrical and gingerbread men that are not symmetrical. Students may record the numbers in the correct columns on the Gingerbread Man Symmetry recording sheet,

Data Analysis: Gingerbread Man Probability

Make decorating gingerbread cookies an introduction to math probability as well. Create a chart to match the decorations students will use in this center or game activity. Students toss a die and add the appropriate item to their gingerbread man. For example, a die toss of 2 might mean add a button while a die toss of 3 might mean to add rick-rack to decorate their gingerbread cookie mats. Students use the Gingerbread Man Probability recording sheet to keep track of how many dice tosses it takes to complete their gingerbread man cookie decoration. Next, students add their data to the class line plot so that the teacher can lead a discussion about the Gingerbread Man probability of tossing one die.

Gingerbread Man Glyphs & Graphing Ideas

Gingerbread Person Glyphs

Create gingerbread people decorations that are glyphs so that they represent the answers to different data-collection questions: boy/girl, like/don't like gingerbread, favorite dessert, etc.

Gingerbread Man Graph Ideas

It is very easy to incorporate graphing into a gingerbread man unit. Consider these possibilities to get the creative juices flowing. Remember to include different kinds of graphs as suggested below.

  • Gingerbread Info.: As an introduction to the unit, graph how many students have eaten a gingerbread cookie, baked a gingerbread cookie or decorated a gingerbread cookie. [clothespin graph with simple yes/no options]
  • Gingerbread Bites: Ask students to take one bite of their gingerbread cookie.   Graph or tally how many students bit off the head, the right arm, left arm, right leg or left leg. [bar graph, as shown, or pictograph using pieces]
  • Gingerbread Taste Test: Have children taste several different gingerbread cookies, including homemade and store-bought. Ask students to vote for their favorite cookie. [bar graph]
  • Gingerbread Man Stories: After reading several different versions of the classic story, ask students to vote on their favorite. [pictograph using book die cuts]
  • Gingerbread Unit: At the conclusion of the gingerbread unit, have students vote on their favorite activity. [bar graph]

Math-Literature Connections: Gingerbread Man

The Gingerbread Man

There are many different versions of this book that can be used. Read the book as an introductory activity, then set up math activity centers of different gingerbread math activities so that students enjoy a complete Gingerbread Man Math mini-unit.

The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

This beautifully illustrated version of the classic gingerbread man story has a twist to the old plot and includes a gingerbread house, making it a perfect version for either gingerbread activity. Include gingerbread math games and activities to complement the theme.

Use Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby Board Game to practice counting skills.

Gingerbread Man Games

Coordinate Graphing Game:     Catch the Gingerbread Men

For this game, students toss two dice (one regular and one marked A-B-C-D-E-F), form an ordered pair (e.g. B5), then remove the gingerbread man from that space, if there is one. Play continues until the timer rings or until one player has caught 10 gingerbread men. Students love playing the game and they get to practice their coordinate graphing skills in the process.

Coordinate Pairs: This seasonal version of the classic Battleship game provides practice in forming coordinate pairs, identifying the x-coordinate (A-F), then the y-coordinate (1-6) so that spaces are identified as C3 or E6. Hopefully, lots of practice will help students transition to the algebraic ordered pairs (x,y) where x and y are both numbers. Just be certain to reinforce the notion that the x-coordinate (across) comes before the y-coordinate (up or down). The alphabetical cues (across comes before up or down) help some students remember the order.

Download Catch the Gingerbread Men game mat, game pieces and directions for playing the game.

Counting Game: Run, Gingerbread Man, Run

This game was designed to introduce students to the randomness of spinners and dice. Each color gingerbread man starts at the same place and has the same chance of winning by crossing the finish line, but does it work out that way? Students will enjoy playing the game AND use a clothespin graph [see sample on right] to collect some useful data on the winners.

Once students have collected class data from playing many games, they will come together to analyze the clothespin graph results. Students will be asked to discuss whether or not they think the game is fair for all of the gingerbread men and explain their reasoning.

Download the Run, Gingerbread Men, Run! Game so that students can get started playing and collecting data. The pdf file contains the spinner, gameboard, clothespin graph icons, and an optional tally sheet.

Gingerbread Man Problem Solving

Gingerbread Man Links