What started out as a simple gingerbread house competition morphed into a school activity that brought the whole town of Salmo together — figuratively, and literally.
Salmo elementary school’s Grades 1 to 6 class of 19 students won the gingerbread competition put on by the Nelson Star, as they reconstructed their community out of sweet treats.
Teachers Casey Berks and Jessica Foster led the project that took two months to plan and two weeks to build. The community really responded to the effort that was part fun, part learning and part fundraising effort.
“A lot of people came to the school and came to the final assembly to see it raffled off,” said Foster. “It was good for the students to see how much the parents and grandparents and just neighbours support the school and how proud they were of the children. This is a really friendly, happy community and it was nice to see everyone get together to celebrate.”
Walks students take around the village inspired the children and they combined that with a desire to raise money for Community Services.
“We thought if we built a very beautiful gingerbread community, people would want to buy tickets to win it,” said Foster.
Raffle ticket sales raised over $500 and two Kindergarten students and one person from the community who purchased their ticket at the hardware store each took home a portion of the gingerbread village that measured about a metre by 1.5 metres.
The gingerbread competition became a learning experience for the students as teachers incorporated story-telling lessons with the reading of The Gingerbread Man and Hansel and Gretal. Social studies lessons included learning about community needs and the history of Salmo. They also studied the history of ginger, which captivated one young student surprised by his own enthusiasm.
“It’s actually more exciting than I thought it would be,” said Grade 5 student Kaliper Campbell. “Ginger was the most precious thing on earth back then.”
Gingerbread construction included math-based lessons on patterning, shape and space. Students were also careful to use a colour scheme as they decorated their buildings — that became an art lesson on the colour wheel.
“The younger students sorted the candy so that they made sure they didn’t use a whole bunch a different colours because they wanted the gingerbread community to look good,” said Foster.
Students had to create a blueprint to follow. Campbell was responsible for building Salmo’s church and he’s proud of the results.
“It was one of the biggest buildings and it was really something,” he said. “I like being creative.”
Grade 5 students Sophia Main and Veyda Reid built the Salmo Hotel and the Dragonfly Café. Foster said the three students did a great job recreating the landmarks.
“Their buildings looked exactly like their plans. It was really nice as a teacher, to see them plan something out and follow it — they were proud,” she said.
Instead of gingerbread, structures were made with graham crackers and the Salmo students used a sugary paste instead of icing.
“It works super good,” said Campbell.
The students used licorice, jellybeans, little sugarcoated gumdrops, jube jubes and Skittles. It took great willpower to keep from nibbling their building supplies — “all that candy in front of you and you can’t eat it,” said Reid.
Added Campbell to ensuing laughter, “to tell you the truth, I did sneak a couple candies when no one was looking.”
Students are excited about winning the Star contest and their teachers plan on rewarding their efforts by spending the prize, a Kootenay Bakery Cafe gift certificate, on them.
“We’re going to treat the kids,” said Foster. “The students worked really hard so we’re going to buy them some treats and let them enjoy because they didn’t get to enjoy the gingerbread community.”