So, what could a group of eighth-graders do with a limited supply of Graham crackers and frosting?

Besides eating them.

That was the challenge laid before the Brookfield Middle School students, who were assigned to make gingerbread houses.

The students had three days, ending Dec. 19 — the last day of school before Christmas break — to construct edible edifices. They brought in their own extras, including gum drops, pretzels, licorice, chocolate bars, candy canes and marshmallows, to help in the construction of towers, cottages and a Santa’s workshop.

“It was pretty fun,” said student A.J. Bartolin. “It was challenging, just figuring out what to do to make it entertaining for people to look at.”

A.J., whose team created a cottage with a Hershey’s chocolate bar roof and candy cane gutters, said his favorite part of the design was the chocolate Santa coming out of the chimney.

For Christian Clark, the challenge was “keeping it all together. That was difficult, for as big as we were making them.”

And Christian’s team thought big, making a church-like tower with a picture window and a roof adorned with M&Ms and mint candies.

The students were given only one box of crackers and one can of frosting and had to figure out how to support the structures, something that often was done with cardboard or the Graham cracker boxes.

The assignment grew from a unit on building, said teacher Nate Berry. The students had made earthquake towers out of Popsicle sticks, toothpicks and CDs, and the idea of gingerbread houses arose from wanting to continue that lesson, but adapt it for the holidays, said teacher Marissa Miller.

The exercise employed critical thinking skills, materials management and working as a team, Miller said.

Teachers judged the houses, and the winners received certificates, candy and homework passes.

“I think they did fantastic,” Miller said. “Every one of these is unique. They were really into it.”

A.J. Bartolin
A.J. Bartolin
Christian Clark
Christian Clark