Rosendale students build gingerbread communities and knowledge – all on a budget

Two girls talk as they construct gingerbread houses at their classroom tables.

Interdisciplinary unit highlights different types of communities, understanding money

“Every community has different things in it,” said Rosendale second grade student Gabby Fountain.

Being part of a community means “to work together,” said her classmate, Andrew Zhang.

“A budget is when you have to add up your money,” explained Madison Snow. “You have a total of the money you have, and you need to see how much money you spent and you used.”

As the students explained how they are learning about communities and budgeting, their classmates were busy adding drapes and walkways, windows and furniture to milk cartons that would eventually be gingerbread homes in a full-fledged village.

The gingerbread village unit is an annual event in Rosendale teacher Kate Martin’s classroom. This year, the second grade class of Glen Motto is also doing the project, which helps students build skills and knowledge across a variety of content areas.

They are given a certain amount (35 cents) to spend on furnishing and decorating their homes at in-class shops that are often staffed by parent volunteers. Students manage their budgets, make spending decisions and calculate change. They also explore the difference between different types of communities the goods and services that are needed for a community to function.

“I learned that there are three different types of communities, urban suburban and rural,” said Natalie Birmingham.

Mrs. Martin said it is a fun, hands-on way to immerse students in important concepts. They take their decorations just as seriously.

Madison Snow explained how she had used a toothpaste cap and a box to construct a bathroom in her home.

“Something I like about doing this project is making my house because we get to decorate inside,” said Andrew Zhang. “We make flags, tables and chairs.”

Rosendale second grade students will share their entire gingerbread community with their parents and present a short musical performance at the school on Thursday, Dec. 22.