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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Notes to self: building better gingerbread houses

Things I learned about building gingerbread houses:

  1. gb_house_02If you're short on patience, buying a gingerbread house kit is a real sanity saver!


  2. Try and find the type of kit that has grooves / ruts / slots in the base which tell you where to put the walls and make assembly easier.


  3. gb_house_03Have a look inside the kit to see if the types of candy decorations included are the sort you feel comfortable having your helper children eat. (Some are choking hazards for pre-schoolers and toddlers.) Assemble some candy you don't mind your children eating to swap in when you remove the offending confections. (Leftover Hallowe'en Smarties and Rockets proved popular.)

  4. Feed your children a healthy meal or a healthy snack prior to starting this activity. Even the best behaved child cannot resist the sugary sweetness of gingerbread house decorations!

  5. While you're unpacking the kit and trying to figure out the instructions, have little hands free Smarties and Rockets from their packages and put them in a bowl or plate. To stall for time, have them sort the decorations by type, size or by colour.

  6. gb_house_04If the instructions tell you to kneed the icing in the bag prior to using it, do so before you cut a corner off.


  7. The big bag of icing provided is much too big for little hands to manage.





  8. gb_house_05Get yourself a sandwich bag and cut a tiny corner off to make a mini-piping bag. Put some icing sugar in the cut corner of the sandwich bag.














  9. gb_house_07Have the adult use the large icing bag to place pipe the thick beads of icing sugar acting as glue for the major house components.









  10. gb_house_06Little hands can practice piping with their baggies on the interior walls of the house.














  11. gb_house_08Pipe a thick bead of icing in the grooves in the base for the four walls of the house.

  12. Assemble the four walls in their grooves and apply pressure.

  13. Ensure that the four walls are stable prior to progressing. (Very important!)

  14. Pipe a thick bead of icing along the walls where they meet the base. (Inside and out.)


  15. gb_house_09 Little hands can put decorations in the icing along the base of the house, while larger hands are assembling the roof.














  16. gb_house_10It's VERY important that you wait the designated time (it was 15 minutes for us) holding the roof in position, prior to trying to decorate! It's not much fun trying to decorate a house where the walls keep caving in and the roof keeps sliding off!

  17. I'd recommend having little hands decorate accessories (gingerbread men, gingerbread snowmen and gingerbread trees) on a level surface prior to assembling perpidicular to the base. (In contrast to the photoevidence.)






  18. gb_house_12Little hands can be decorating one side of the house while big hands are working on the other side.












  19. While it's possible to pipe icing onto an already vertical wall (see photo below) it would have been much easier to put the decorative icing on the wall if it were flat. (Which, of course, would mean you'd have be be very careful while assembling the walls, not to smear icing all over the place.) Alternately, one could wait until the house was firmly cemented by the icing and then tip the house 80 degrees or so to do the decorative piping. (Not a likely option with anxious little hands!)

    gb_house_16 gb_house_13 gb_house_14 gb_house_17


  20. When everyone's finished decorating, put a tablespoon or so of icing sugar in a seive and shake over the project to give the appearance of a fresh snowfall.

    gb_house_18gb_house_19


  21. Now your challenge is guarding the house to make sure it doesn't get demolished overnight!

    gb_house_20 gb_house_21


Materials for above project:
  • table cloth for getting dirty (or easy to wipe table-top)
  • drop cloth (old table cloth or shower curtain) for floor if you plan on using sprinkles as a decoration (or easy to vacuum and mop floor)
  • gingerbread house kit (with slotted base)
  • alternate candy decorations (Smarties and Rockets)
  • plastic sandwich bags
  • scissors
  • plates, bowls and spoons for organizing decorations
  • seive
  • icing sugar (about a tablespoon)
  • spoon
  • patience
  • vacuum cleaner
  • wet cloths for cleaning little hands

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