One of my favorite themes of the year is the gingerbread man! I love to read all the different versions of the story! And I love all the different literacy activities that go along with reading all those different versions! But I also LOVE all of the gingerbread math activities too! Gingerbread men are just adorable to begin with! And when you get to use them to work on numbers, counting, and shapes, it’s even better!
So, I’ve put together some of my favorite gingerbread math activities for you! Some of them are designed to be used in busy boxes, but you can also use them in small groups, centers, morning tubs, etc. And, some of them are designed to be circle time games, but they make great small group activities as well! The kiddos also love to play those circle time games on their own in centers once they know how to play!
One of my favorite things to do when I use these activities in small groups is to use actual candy for the counting activities! Any time you put candy in front of your kiddos, you will instantly get their attention! Plus, it gives them some added incentive to participate if they know there’s a sweet treat waiting on them when they finish! I do NOT recommend using real candy as a manipulative when your kiddos are working independently though. Well, that is, unless you want all the candy to be gone the first time you add it to a center! I’ve made that rookie mistake before!
What You Need
Here is a list of some materials you might want to gather before you start to create all these fun gingerbread math activities!
- gingerbread cutouts
- cookie sheets
- play dough
- transparent spinners
- paper clips
- dry erase markers
- gum drops
- personal laminator
- laminating sleeves
Now let’s get to the activities!
Gingerbread Man Number Tracing Busy Box
These number tracing cards are so cute! You can easily make your own by gluing a gingerbread man cut out to a card and adding the number for your kiddos to trace. Doing dotted lines can be hard if you’re writing the numbers yourself. So, make it easy on yourself and write the numbers with a yellow marker. (There’s actually a lot of research out there about using yellow for tracing instead of dotted lines anyway!) Here are two more helpful hints with this activity: use low-odor dry erase markers and use laminating sheets that are compatible with dry erase markers! There’s nothing worse than spending all that time making your tracing cards just to find out you can’t reuse them because the marker won’t come off!
Gingerbread Roll & Cover Busy Box
Roll & Cover games are so much fun! This one focuses on number recognition if you use the spinner. If you have transparent spinners, they are perfect for this! Just lay one over the printed spinner, and you’re ready to go! If not, all you need is a pencil that is sharp (but not too sharp!) and a paper clip. (I like to use the jumbo paper clips because they are a little easier for tiny hands to manipulate.) Just lay the paper clip on the spinner like in the picture above. Put the point of the pencil right in the middle of the spinner, and flick the paper clip to spin it. You’ll definitely want to teach your kiddos how to do this before you turn them loose with this activity! Once you’ve got your spinner figured out, the game is pretty simple. Just spin, find a matching number, and cover it with a candy! Once all the numbers are covered, your kiddos will have a super cute gingerbread house to admire!
You can have your kiddos see who can cover their whole house first. But, if you don’t want to have a winner and a loser, turn it into a cooperative activity. Put your kiddos with a partner and have them work together to fill a single gingerbread house!
Gingerbread Man Hunt
Sticking with the skill of recognizing numbers, here’s a super fun game that you can play during circle time! You’ll need cookie sheets that are programmed with the numbers you want your kiddos working on. And you’ll need a gingerbread man cut out. Let one of your kiddos hide the gingerbread man under one of the cookie sheets while all of your other kiddos hide their eyes so they can’t see. (I always tell them that if you peek, you don’t get to play!) Next, say the chant together:
Run! Run! As fast as you can! You can't find me, I'm the gingerbread man!
Choose one kiddo to guess where the gingerbread man is hiding. I like to use this game to reinforce speaking in complete sentences too! So I might have them say, “Mrs. A, I wonder if the gingerbread man is hiding under the number 6?” (I absolutely LOVE using I wonder… It takes away so much pressure of being right or wrong, and it works beautifully during investigations or explorations of any kind to really get them thinking!) You can also have them practice addressing each other by name by having them ask the child who hid the gingerbread man, “Johnny, is the gingerbread man hiding under the number 6?”
Hint: You might be tempted to leave out the chant and just play the game, but fight that temptation! The chant is always their favorite part, and there are SO many skills embedded in that portion of this game, you don’t want to leave it out!
I Have, Who Has
One more game for recognizing numbers! If you’re not familiar with I Have, Who Has then you will love this! Once you figure out the pattern of making the cards, it’s actually pretty easy! I always print the starting sentence in green so that even your non-readers will know if they have the first card. Green means go! The first person says, “I have the first card. Who has 1?” The kiddo who has the gingerbread man who is holding one gum drop says, “I have one. Who has 2?” The game keeps going until you get to the last card. I always print the ending statement in red. Red means stop!
If you have more than 11 kiddos (and I’m sure most of your do!) you can split them into smaller groups or have them play with a partner. Either way, the best part for me doesn’t happen when I’m leading the kiddos in this game. It happens when I put the cards in my math center or in my circle time center, and they organize their own games! I love watching them take ownership of things that they have mastered during their times with me in a large group or small group!
Gingerbread Play Dough Mats
How cute is this one?? This is a counting activity that I love to use with play dough, but you could also use buttons, pom poms, cubes, or even real gum drops! The whole goal is to decorate the gingerbread man with the correct number of “candies,” no matter what you are using as your manipulative. I love these too because they really set up the kiddos to be successful! The ten frames give them a way to make sure their counting is accurate before they add the “candies” to the gingerbread man! This also means that, even if your kiddos can’t yet create groups as large as the number on the mat, the ten frames will support them in their efforts as they continue to work towards being able to do it on their own!
Gingerbread Counting Busy Box
I love these adorable counting cookies! All you need for this fun activity is cookie sheets that are programmed with the numbers you want your kiddos to work on and gingerbread cut outs that have a variety of representations of those numbers. Mine show each number with cubes, dice, fingers, and gum drops.
The game itself is super simple and pretty self-explanatory. Your kiddos count whatever image is on the gingerbread man and match it to the correct cookie sheet! This is where you might want to pull out a spatula, if you’ve been wondering why I had that listed above! They can use the spatula to move the cookies onto the cookie sheets!
How Many Hiding?
How Many Hiding is a FANTASTIC game to help develop number sense in your kiddos! It sets a foundation for adding and subtracting later, and really helps them develop the idea of decomposing numbers. (That just means breaking a set into smaller groups. For example, knowing that 3 is made up of 2 and 1 or 3 and 0.) The critical step in this game is to make sure all of your kiddos know how many you are starting with. So, if you’re using 5 gum drops, make sure that all of your kiddos know you are starting with 5. Show them, count them together, and ask them how many gum drops there are several times before you start. If they don’t understand how many you’re starting with, the game will never work.
Choose one of your kiddos to hide some of the gum drops under the gingerbread man while the rest of your kiddos hide their eyes. Once they open their eyes, take the gum drops that are still showing and place them on the gingerbread man. Count them as you move them. Ask your kiddos how many there are and how many you started with. Then choose one kiddo to guess how many the gingerbread man took? (How many are hiding?) After they guess, let them look to see if they are right.
Here’s an example: You started with 5 gum drops. One kiddo hid 2 under the gingerbread man. Your kiddos opened their eyes. You said the chant together. You counted the 3 gum drops that were still showing as you moved them onto the gingerbread man. You asked your kiddos how many you started with, and they said 5. You asked them how many were still showing, and they said 3. You asked them how many the gingerbread man took, and you chose a kiddo to guess. That kiddo holds up 5 fingers, puts down 3 of them, and sees that he still has 2 fingers left. So, he tells you the gingerbread man took 2 gum drops. You let him check, and he was right!
Hint: If you’ve never done anything like this with your kiddos, start with 3. Continue to increase that starting amount by one as they master the current amount and are ready to move on.
Gingerbread Man Shapes Match & Clip
This one is a little more challenging to make, but it’s not impossible. It’s really pretty simple to play! Your kiddos look at the adorable gingerbread man face to see what shape it is, and they clip a clothespin to the matching shape.
If you want to make these self-checking, all you have to do is put a sticker or a mark on the back of the card behind the correct shape. Then after your kiddos add the clip, they can just flip it over to see if they are right! It’s a super fun way to get them practicing their shape recognition and visual discrimination!
By now you might be thinking, OK Stephanie… these gingerbread math activities are great and all, but Christmas break is only a few weeks away. I’m exhausted. I’m busy. And I don’t have time to make all of these activities from scratch. Well, you don’t have to! I’ve got all of these (and some literacy activities too!) in my TPT store, and they are SUPER affordable! Just click on the product covers below to go grab your own copies! Then all you have to do is print, cut, and laminate! (If you want to make that process even faster to save even more time, make sure you have a paper cutter that will make all of your cutting go super fast! Here are the links to all of my gingerbread math activities:
What are your favorite gingerbread math activities! I’m always excited to hear new ideas! Leave me a comment to let me know what you do with your kiddos! Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Amazon links below if you need some fun gingerbread man books to read with your class!
If you need some last-minute Thanksgiving ideas that are ready to print and use, go check out my Thanksgiving Busy Boxes!!