Introduction: No-Bake Gingerbread House on a Budget
I'm a teacher. And recently the school district started a program that was having kids eat breakfast in their homeroom class (so that the kids actually eat something for breakfast). One of the items on the breakfast menu was graham crackers. After seeing several days of graham crackers thrown away, I thought up a use and turned it into an art project for one of my classes. Since I have virtually no budget, much of the supplies were things I already had or could recycle.
Step 1: Supplies
cereal like fruit loops or cheerios
masking tape or duct tape
self hardening clay (I used Model Magic clay made by Crayola)
markers to color clay
Krylon matte varnish
optional: candy (peppermint candy, hard candies, gummy bears)
Step 2: Measure
Measure your graham crackers. My crackers were about 2.5 inches (6 cm) square. I cut 6 squares of cardboard. Tape two pieces of cardboard together. Repeat so that you have 3 pairs.Tape together two of the pairs to make a square. Use the last taped pair for the roof.
Tape the "roof" on the "house". I found it easiest to tape one side of the roof on the house. Then I reached inside and taped on the other.
Take the house and lay it on it's side. Trace on the outside of the house the V shape. Do this twice. Cut out the V shape. Tape the V onto the house, trimming any extra cardboard off as necessary.
Glue on the graham crackers. (Frosting wasn't in my budget nor would the school district like me using frosting with some pre-diabetic middle school kids!) Put dots of tacky glue on a cardboard side. Press firmly the graham cracker, centering it. Repeat this on all sides and also on the roof. Use the tacky glue fairly generously, but you also don't want it dripping off the edges. Regular white glue will also work well as long as you let it dry before standing upright.
For the V section of the roof, I took one side of the cardboard off so that you see the ridges. Or you can use cereal, such as cheerios and glue that on the side to disguise the tape and the cardboard. Another option is to use construction paper to make "shingles".
Let the graham crackers and house dry before adding more architectural embellishments.
Step 3: Pause for Drying: Zen
With most art projects, there is an essential pause for drying. The pause is also good to formulate your ideas. I have found as an artist that it is good to step away from the project for a while to give you a fresh inspiration. To mull and to think about the next step.
With many other crafts this is also true.
There is a zen involved in making things. And when you rush, or you try to go too fast, it usually fails. The time to dry, to harden or just to think is important.
Step 4: Now the Fun Begins!
Now the fun begins!
You've made the foundation of the house. But you still need to decorate and complete. And as one of my students stated " this is what I've been waiting for!"
Authentic gingerbread houses use frosting or icing as the "glue". Since I was working with 30 kids and no budget, I used glue instead. And I used a self hardening clay, Model Magic manufactured by Crayola for decoration. This was more cost effective and also taught art concepts simultaneously.
I had some gaps between each side of the house and also the gap at the peak of the roof. To hide these gaps and also to help firm up the house, I used a coil or a "snake" of clay. I put tacky glue into the gap, and then pressed the coil into the glue.
I made a door with wood-grain by coloring on top of the clay that I had already colored light brown. To color the clay, you can use markers. You can color the clay and then knead/mix the color in or you can color on top. I made the candy canes by coloring one coil of clay red and twisting together with a white coil.
I used fruit loops or cheerios for other decoration. Again, traditionally you use candy, gumdrops and the like. But as this was going to be worked on by a class of students over the course of a week, I used clay and items that could be acquired cheaply.
Step 5: Spray With Varnish
The last step is to spray the house with Krylon varnish/finish. I used a matte finish (as that is what I had on hand). The varnish/finish spray helps make the graham crackers hard (in Houston, the crackers are like a sponge soaking up all that humidity) and keeps the critters from chewing up all your hard work!
Do this outside or in a well ventilated space.....don't kill any more brain cells that you might need later on.
Voila! A miniature gingerbread house that cost me virtually nothing! And best yet, a project I could do with 30 students on a budget and without worrying about the kids eating up the decorations!