Friday, December 30, 2011

Run, run as fast as you wait, walk! You're in school!

The Gingerbread of my favorite units to teach each year.  We spend the week reading the different versions of the story, completing gingerbread man projects, and this year, we even sent paper gingerbread men to family and friends throughout the U.S. and received postcards back from our traveling cookies!

But the most important part of the gingerbread man unit, is the hunt at the end of the week.  Now my friend, Mr. G, has been hanging out in my classroom one week in December for three years now.  And each year he manages to sneak away and leave behind clues throughout the school that lead my class and I on an unforgettable hunt.  These clues say things like, "Run, run as fast as you can.  Go to room 13 + 3, that's where I am!" or "Run, run as fast as you can.  Go to where you eat, that's where I am!"

We travel to classrooms, offices, even the cafeteria, before we finally find him hidden in my ceramic apple where class treats are kept.  And so the story goes...

It was Friday afternoon.  Due to rainy weather during an unseasonably warm December, my class was having indoor recess.  If not for the piles of papers that get organized, desk that reappears, hallway window that gets redecorated, or papers that get corrected, indoor recess would be despised by me and my colleagues.  Let 'em play in the rain!  There is never enough space, never enough toys and games, never a proper clean up, and noise to make your head pound til dinner time.  This indoor recess soon became the noisiest yet.  Emma came up to me with a brown strip of paper in hand and said, "Mrs. Bushey, I like this note you put where the gingerbread man was."  Looking confused, I asked, "What's this?"  I read it and asked where she had found the curious rhyme.  She pointed to the pocket where our friend, the gingerbread man, had been sitting earlier and was now gone.  I turned off the lights and made an announcement to the class that our little friend was missing and that he had left behind some sort of clue.  I had Emma read the clue aloud.  Cue children screaming!  Bodies bounced like Pop Rocks!  I reminded the class that we had a Mystery Reader joining us after recess and the hunt would just have to wait.  No excitement diminished at this announcement.  I've never seen my class so eager for recess to end. 

Clean up consisted of hopping, skipping, hand holding, screeching, and a promptness that had yet to be seen.  The Mystery Reader arrived.  I must say, my class kept their composure well through the stories that were read.  Even amidst the excitement of an upcoming hunt, the magic of picture books can capture children's attention.

The hunt began by deciphering the first clue.  Room 13 + 3?  What could this mean?  To first graders, just beginning their exploration of addition, discovering the answer took some time.  Room 16 it was, but a few behavior reminders before we all poured out into the silent hallways.  "If we are too loud, the gingerbread man will hear us.  He could run away again.  Make sure you are very quiet and sneaky."  I tiptoed out of the room, with 21 tiny toes following suit.  In Room 16 we found yet another clue.  This one led us to the office where a clue had been left on the secretary's desk.  Then the nurses office.  The nurse had been so busy that she saw something brown quickly run through, but had no time to stop.  Band aids and thermometers trumped a tricky cookie.  We then made our way to the reading teachers' room.  A stuffed snowman held the clue for our ginger guy.  He was getting friends in on the act!  Upon reading, we made our way to the cafeteria.  Uh oh!  The recently mopped floor, left me to be the one to find what would be our last clue from Mr. G.  The clue that would lead us right back to where we began.  Our classroom and the candy-filled apple on my desk!  As I lifted the apple, it suddenly jumped from my hands and I screamed!  This in turn caused the children in the room to scream as well.  The apple mysteriously moved again and I tightened my grip.  When I was sure that all 21 kids had a view of the apple's lid, I removed it and inside we found our gingerbread man.  Of course a gingerbread cookie would have a sweet tooth!
The DumDums were gone, but inside he had left each child there very own gingerbread man cookie to celebrate the successful unriddling of clues.  Naughty but nice!  This cookie knew a cookie jar when he saw one.  Our new-found friend was passed around for hugs and then placed back into his pocket for safe-keeping.  This time we would keep our eyes on him!

That weekend, while perusing the children's section of Barnes and Noble, I came across a book entitled, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School.  In this story, the students bake a gingerbread man at school then leave him to cool during recess.  Our main character is not so happy to be left behind by his friends and sets out to find the kids who made him.  Adorable!  This book had to be read to my class!  I bought it and brought it to school the next week.  Our gingerbread man was visiting the first grade class across the hall.  He was becoming a very popular guy in our elementary school.  And wouldn't you know it, he led Mrs. Glover's class on a similar hunt!  Bradley talked about it the rest of the day!  He could be heard down the hall after dismissal, telling his dad about his friend, the gingerbread man, and the day he ran away.  Creating school cookie at a time!

<3- Sarah


Mrs. Glover said...

This quickly became my favorite day as a teacher EVER! Thanks for sharing your ideas =)

Mrs. Glover said...

Seriously...I had little girls who were going to throw up or cry from the excitement...priceless!