Debbie Taylor’s class at LaRue County High School has entered into the home construction business.
Unlike most builders, however, her students will be able to eat their structures as they have designed and built gingerbread houses.
“We make them every year,” Taylor said. “However, in the past we have used graham crackers and hot glue. This year, everything is totally edible.”
For their building plans, the students researched various recipes on Web sites, compared them, then selected the ones that best suited them.
“We also used Martha Stewart’s gingerbread house construction methods,” Taylor said. “We enjoyed finding all of the different decorating methods.”
Once they had their blueprints, the students constructed each house from scratch.
Taylor noted, “We were able to make a pattern based on our trial paper houses.”
While mixing the ingredients, the class honed their reading and math skills.
“Students were able to measure one-quarter teaspoons up to tablespoons and various other fractions on the measuring cups,” said Taylor. “They also learned how to read directions and learn terms such as ‘knead, cream, and whip’ while working with the icing.”
Not all the projects were initially successful, but those unsuccessful attempts introduced the students to yet another term, “implosion,” as several houses caved in when they touched them with too much force.
“Holding the roof on until the sugar water hardened enough to support it was the hardest part,” said Taylor. “We brushed the sugar mixture on and held it together while it bonded to the top, chimney, and sides.”
Her students are also published authors, having their novellette, “Wetonbethe” (which means “hope”) published both as a class project and in an area publication.
The 12-page book, dedicated to all “special needs students everywhere and for hope,” tells the story of a family encountering the ghostly remains of an Indian child, whose spirit cannot rest until given a proper burial.
The class took on the two-week project while brainstorming for ideas for Halloween.
“We actually meant to write a spooky story, but when we started discussing the plot, one thing led to another until our thoughts turned to Native Americans,” said Taylor. “From there, we researched the Cherokee, their movement during the Trail of Tears through Kentucky, their burial rituals, and worked those into the plot.”