The fragrance of sugar filled one of the classrooms at the Community Recreation Center on Dec. 16 as young children and their parents constructed edible “gingerbread” houses from supermarket sweets during the first of two classes. Frosted wheat cereal functioned as roof tiles, red licorice lined the front doorw and small marshmallows hung as lights. Slabs of graham crackers became walls and roof tops. Gum drops, Hershey’s Kisses and M & M candies decorated the houses.
“The purpose of this class is to get into the holiday spirit and let the kids be creative and have some fun,” says Nichole Morgan, cultural arts instructor of the Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department. “I give the students lots of tools they can use to make different designs. I make one gingerbread house as an example and I show them different frosting and candy application techniques.”
There were two gingerbread house-making classes on the same day. The early class, for children ages two to six, was a “mommy and me” class. This class allowed parents to join their children and exercise creativity together. Following the “mommy and me” class, the class for older kids encouraged more independence and gave participants free rein with their creativity.
“We make a sleigh out of graham crackers and candy canes,” Morgan says. “We also make a snowman out of large jumbo marshmallows. We use different colored frosting for different things. For instance, we make a tree out of a sugar ice-cream cone flipped upside down. Then we apply green royal icing to it.”
Alice Bosso agrees that the class allowed her son, two-and-a-half years old, to work on his fine motor skills.
“My son liked picking the candy to put on the gingerbread house,” Bosso says. “It was an interactive activity and we could be creative and messy.”
Kelly Gardner took the class with her three year-old daughter.
“I liked building a home with her,” Gardner says. “It was a fun bonding activity and I liked not having to clean up.”