Gingerbread model supplemented with a few smart cookies – The Daily Reporter


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FORTVILLE – Downtown Fortville has never been so charming.

Before school left for winter break this month, fourth-graders at Fortville Elementary School spent hours building downtown businesses and other nearby landmarks in gingerbread.

Haley Childers, the fourth-grade teacher who ran the company, said the project taught children more than just gingerbread-making skills. The students also learned about the development of Fortville; how to locate features on a map; and the effect of Fortville businesses on the local economy.

Most importantly, the project taught them various elements of science, technology, engineering, and math skills – or STEM.

Childers first introduced the gingerbread-making lesson to fourth-graders at the school in 2019, but skipped it last year due to COVID-19. This year, she added a special element: showing kids around the downtown streets and interacting with business owners, who told them about their stores and why they chose to move to Fortville. .

Groups of students were invited to visit individual businesses including Sunrise Bakery, Panda Chinese, Maduro on Main, Foxgardin Kitchen & Ale, ATA Blackbelt Academy and Seals Funeral Home.

“They were able to basically interview some of the owners of the businesses, and when they came back they wrote a research paper – a paragraph sharing a little description of what they had learned,” Childers said.

Vince Edwards, principal of Fortville Elementary School, said such interactions help teach children the personal skills needed to be successful in the world. “A lot of times we talk about what children need to grow up. A lot of our time is spent on academic things, but this project is a really fantastic way to work on those personal relationship skills, ”he said.

“These soft skills also include attention to detail, planning, solving and adapting to problems that arise… learning to review and progress,” he said.

Childers agrees that the project is a great way to combine both STEM skills and soft skills, not to mention the art of cooking, into one great, fun project. Building a gingerbread village in your hometown is a great way to make math and science fun for everyone, she said.

The teacher incorporated math by having students calculate the perimeter of each actual structure and reduce it to a model the size of a gingerbread house. Students then applied their math skills to estimate the size and number of materials needed to reconstruct each building.

The kids incorporated science by enlisting the school’s STEM teachers to work with students on small electrical circuits, which were used as miniature street lights to illuminate the display. “Some of the students got very creative and used the circuits to light up buildings from inside,” Childers said.

The 20-by-40-foot village was exhibited in the school but was deconstructed before the students left for winter vacation. The display was too fragile to be transported to a public place, so many local business owners who participated in the project stopped by the school to check on student work.

“It’s a great way to involve both the kids and the community,” Edwards said.

Each of the school’s fourth-grade classes focused on a different part of the city: Main Street (which was divided into two parts), Broadway Street, and Memorial Park. One classroom focused on the creation of Fortville Elementary, Mt. Vernon Middle School, and Mt. Vernon High School, including the District Administration Building, Performing Arts Center, Tennis Courts, and Field of football.

In each classroom, the students were divided into small groups, each focusing on a different building in their designated area. The children made sure to group students with others they might not be as familiar with, to help them focus on interpersonal skills with both their peers and adults.

“It’s really good for them to understand how to work with the group and collectively use all of their ideas. But then seeing the end result is really cool for everyone, ”she said.

Different colors of icing were used to most closely resemble the exterior of various buildings in the city. The students also placed tiny signs on the front of each building identifying each one, such as the Sunrise Bakery on the corner of Broadway and Main streets. Childers reduced the size of the logos to make them more authentic.

She hopes the project will help instill in the students a love of community. “Getting them to learn more about their community and what is downtown on Main Street helps them understand how we can help and support our community in different ways,” she said.

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