Bake Gingerbread Cookies: A Lesson in Measurement
Prior Knowledge: Reread the books, The Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Boy, Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends (images below). What a wonderful way to integrate literacy across the curriculum.
Prior to the lesson, discuss safe food handling practices, hand-washing and safe kitchen practices. Discuss procedures and management. What will students do when their job is complete? What is the acceptable noise level in the classroom or Home Economics room?
Today the students will learn about and use the measurement tools, cups and teaspoons.
Show the students liquid and solid measuring cups. Tell them the difference between a liquid and a solid measuring cup. We measure liquids in the liquid cup and solids in the solid cup. Show the ingredients, brown sugar, shortening, molasses, water, and flour and let the students help to separate the liquid ingredients from the solid ingredients. Discuss and model the term, "packed". Discuss how an ingredient must be level before putting it into the mixing bowl and model. Show the students how to "read" and measure using a liquid cup and a solid cup. Discuss accuracy. Show the students a set of measuring spoons and discuss sizes.
The cookies can be prepared in the morning (the dough chills for 2 hours) and baked and decorated in the afternoon. Follow the directions for baking gingerbread cookies below.
Note- for a younger class the teacher can prepare and bake the cookies ahead of time and bring the cookies to class for the students to ice them. The measurement lesson would then be only how to prepare the icing.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
Follow the recipe, courtesy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Wiley Publishing, Inc. (modified for younger students):
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 1/2 cups dark molasses
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 7 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Mix brown sugar, shortening, molasses, and water in large bowl with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray.
- Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured surface. Cut with floured gingerbread shaped cookie cutter.
- Bake 10-12 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
- Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
- Decorate with frosting, colored sugar or candies.
Preparing the Icing
You can either make the icing with the class or buy the prepared icing in a jar. If you are planning to prepare the icing with the class store it in plastic/ketchup bottles for easy handling. The students can take turns drawing faces and clothing on their cookies and then decorating with candies. The ketchup/mustard bottles can be purchased at a dollar store. Keep the icing at room temperature and discard the unused portion.
- Royal Icing: Courtesy of Gingerbread from the Heart
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons water (approximately)
Combine all ingredients and beat for several minutes. Icing should be fluffy and hold its shape, not runny and not too dry. If it's too dry, add additional water a few drops at a time until you get the right consistency. It should be easy to squeeze. The icing hardens quickly, so after mixing, cover bowl with a damp towel to keep the icing soft.
Tips for Baking the Gingerbread Cookies
One thing that I have learned from experience is that when baking or cooking with a large group of students, you need a plan and plenty of patience. Split the class into groups to help make the recipe (more students can help to measure or mix dependent upon class size). To make it non-biased, write each student's name on a piece of paper and "draw' a name from a hat for each job. You may also want to have picture support for young students to remind them of their role. Here's an example:
- Eleven students will measure.
- Four students will mix.
- Two students will stir in remaining ingredients.
- Two students will prepare the baking sheet.
- All- roll the dough, use cookie cutter, and decorate a gingerbread cookie.
December is a great time for this lesson on baking gingerbread cookies. It will be a memorable one for you and your class so remember to have the camera ready. If possible, elicit volunteers to help. Enjoy!