4 ways to build a gingerbread house

4 ways to build a gingerbread

On the 12th of December, America celebrates National Gingerbread House Day. So, I thought it might be fun for us to do something similar here in South Africa – especially because of all the great maths skills that come included in the project. Here are four different ways to build a gingerbread house which will depend, very much, on your level of commitment to the project, and the level of maths that you want to encourage.

Option 1: Build a Gingerbread House the Easy Peasy Way

The first option is to purchase a ready made kit. These kits come with everything that you will need to have a fun filled and creative morning or afternoon assembling a gingerbread house. They usually include pre-baked house and roof buiscuits, icing and various decorations. The downside to these kits is that they can become expense, especially if there is more than one child in the house.

This lovely South African website will help you out if you want to order one. They are also available from Woolworths, Takealot and Yuppiechef.

Maths Level:

2D Geometry – naming shapes (grade 1 and 2)

  • Another great way to enforce shape naming, is simply to cut any kind of shapes into the cookie dough. 

Estimating length (grade R)

Estimating mass (grade R)

Position, orientation and views (in other words, left, right and following instructions – grade 1)


*Note for parents – building a gingerbread house is supposed to be fun. Don’t try and turn it into an educational activity. The maths is already there. Ask your child which shapes they are working with, if they have straight lines or curves, if they match (in other words, are the same) and so on. Remember that you are creating memories with your child too – they want to have your (undivided) attention and have fun with you. Those are the most important things – the maths stuff will follow as you talk about how to put your gingerbread house together, where the walls and roof belong, and what shapes you will use to decorate the gingerbread house with. And if you don’t feel maths friendly – then skip the maths and just have fun! (Yes, me the lover of maths said that). Whether or not you choose to talk about maths directly, or ignore it completely – your child is still picking up lots of maths stuff so just have fun 🙂 Remember – children learn through play.* 


Option 2: Make your own Gingerbread House – intermediate maths required

For this option, we have created a gingerbread house template so that you can print it out and cut the dough yourself. When you build your gingerbread house this way, you can choose the type of dough you use (if like me, you are not a fan of the gingerbread flavour, you could use a sugar cookie, or shortbread dough).

Simply cut out each of the shapes in the template. Once you have rolled out your dough to the required thickness, place each template piece onto the dough and cut around it to give the same shape and size (congruency).

Bake the different shapes and assemble the gingerbread house.

For this option you will need the following:

  1. The Gingerbread House Template (download it by clicking here)
  2. A sharp knife
  3. Biscuit Dough (whichever flavour you choose)
  4. Icing sugar (an easy way to make icing sugar is to add a little bit of icing sugar to a bowl, and add one teaspoon of milk, and stir. Adjust the amount of milk to the thickness of the icing sugar you would like. Remember to start small, icing sugar can grow very quickly).
    • Pour the finished icing sugar into a sandwich bag, and not the top to create a cheap alternative to a piping bag. Then snip the corner when you are ready to start assembling your masterpiece.
  5. Decorations (sweets, smarties, liquorice, and anything else you choose)
  6. A bit more patience and time

Maths Level:

Cutting out shapes from paper – grade 1

Cutting out shapes in the dough with a knife (level mom – or when you know they won’t cut themselves. Mom’s this is your judgement call)

Making the dough from scratch requires measuring skills – volume and capacity, weight (grade 1)

And of course the maths levels from option one.


Option 3: Grade 4 and upwards – Design your own house

For this option create your own template. This means that you can either choose to scale the template that we have provided (this one), or create a design of your own. If you create a design of your own, it would be a good idea to assemble it using paper first to make sure that everything fits together correctly.

For a basic gingerbread house you will need the following parts:

  • Floor / base (this is optional – you could build the house straight on to a board)
  • 2 long walls
  • 2 short walls (either with a door cut into one or not)
    • Remember to extend your short walls into a triangle at the top for the shape of your roof.
  • Two roof tiles (to create the slope). They can be similar in size to your long walls.
  • Optional extra: Chimney

Use the same list of ingredients as option 2 to put your gingerbread house together.

Maths Level:

Designing and measuring your house takes the skill level up a notch – most grade 4’s should be able to accomplish this with a little bit of help from mom and or dad.

Congruency is having shapes that are identical – this is a concept that grade 4’s should understand – if not the fancy word used to describe it.

The rest of the project will again fall in line with the maths levels described in option 2.


Option 4: The House is Made out of chocolate…

This is my personal favorite option. Although to be honest, I am not sure how long the chocolate house will actually last in my home (or even if my little “gingerbread” house will actually be completed). I saw this on instagram and thought I just had to share it here (because there is still lots of maths involved).

Maths Level:

Shapes – grade 1

Area – grade 3 (count the number of rectangles in the chocolate to see how much area a wall has)

3D shapes and nets – grade 2

Self-control to not eat all the chocolate – all ages 😉

Fine motor skills – grade 1

Knife work – mom again.


So, what are you going to make today?

Have a wonderful season and enjoy making precious memories with your mini-me’s.

happy holidays and a wonderful new year

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