Run Cookie, Run!

run cookie runYes, that’s me. Dressed as a giant gingerbread cookie, on the run from some extremely determined children. We made adorable (and non-edible) gingerbread houses with a surprise inside. Pull the peppermint loop on the roof, and up pops a gingerbread person! However, in order to get one of those little gingerbread persons, you have to catch the BIG one first (scroll to the bottom of the post for the video)!

pop up gingerbread demoWe read The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999). On a cold, snowy day, Matti and his mother decide to make gingerbread. The cookbook instructs them to bake the cookie for eight minutes without peeking, but Matti can’t resist. He opens the oven and out leaps a feisty Gingerbread Baby, who promptly bolts out the door. A merry chase ensues involving Matti’s parents, the cat, the dog, the goats, two girls, a pig, a fox, a milk & cheese man, and assorted villagers. But clever Matti has his own plan. He builds an enticing gingerbread house, leaves it in the woods, and the Gingerbread Baby dashes inside. Home sweet home!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (I used a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ box, a small tissue box works too)
  • 1 rectangle of tagboard for the roof (mine was 4″ x 9.5″)
  • 1 square of tagboard for the door (mine was 3.25″ x 3.35″)
  • 2 pipe cleaners (1 white & 1 red)
  • Gingerbread house decorating supplies (full list in the post)
  • Brown wrapping paper or packing paper
  • Tape, glue, and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue
  • Optional gingerbread person costume (more on that later!)

You’ll definitely need a box with a lid for this project. I’ll demonstrate with the box we used first, and then I’ll show you how to build the project using a small tissue box. First, fold a rectangle of tagboard into thirds to create a roof. Hot glue the roof to the lid of your box. Fold a square of tagboard in half, then hot glue it to the front of the box to create your house’s front door.

basic gingerbread houseTwist a red and a white pipe cleaner together. Circle the pipe cleaners into a loop, and twist them together tightly at the bottom. Tape the peppermint loop to the lid of your box, bending any excess pipe cleaner underneath the lid.

peppermint loopIf you don’t have a box like mine, no problem! Just use a small tissue box. Flip the tissue box over (so the bottom is facing up) and use a box cutter to cut a square lid. Then follow the same steps for the roof, door, and peppermint loop. Here’s what a tissue box version of the house looks like:

tissue box gingerbread houseWhen the basic house is done, all you have to do is decorate! We offered self-adhesive foam pieces (which I used to shingle my roof), white pipe cleaners, mini craft sticks, little squares of colorful paper, large gemstones, mini pom-poms, rickrack ribbon, construction paper we had cut into icing scallops, and striped paper straws.

finished gingerbread houseMarkers can also be used, especially if you want to draw a gingerbread person peeking out of the front door! We found that metallic markers worked best on the brown tagboard.

front door of gingerbread houseFinally, the gingerbread person that pops up when you tug the peppermint loop! Marissa and I prepped the gingerbread people in advance (we cut them out of brown packing paper and colored them with metallic markers). My only tip is to make sure the cookie fits neatly inside your house. In our early attempts, the cookie’s arms were too long. They jutted out past the roof, which, when closed, looked rather torturous for the cookie.

gingerbread cookie 2Attach your gingerbread person to the underside of the lid with tape. Done!

pop up cookieYou could stop there and be finished with the project. But we decided to take it one step further. In order to get that little gingerbread cookie, you had to catch the BIG one first!

gingerbread person approachesI used brown packing paper to create this stupendous costume (the thicker the paper, the better). The paper roll wasn’t wide enough to cover my full arm span, so we taped 2 long pieces of the paper together, reinforcing the seam with extra-wide masking tape. I didn’t photograph the step with the big taped pieces of paper, but here is a shot of a tape seam on one of the finished costume pieces:

masking tape seamSince you want the masking tape seams on the inside of the costume, flip one of the taped pieces of paper over. The taped seams should now face each other. Then lay down on the paper and have someone trace your body in the shape of a cookie. A couple things to keep in mind while doing this:

  1. Leave LOTS of room around your body while tracing. Otherwise, the costume is going to be too tight and rip very quickly.
  2. The paper isn’t very flexible, so your arms will have to be stuck straight out while wearing (and running in) this costume.
  3. Your feet will need to stick out the bottom of the costume. You don’t want to trip while running around in it!
  4. You’ll need a tall, round head to complete the look.

I’m 5’6″, so my costume was 81.5″ tall, and 68″ wide. Here’s the finished shape:

finished cookie piecesTo “stitch” the pieces together, we made a double seam of hot glue and staples. The hot glue goes first, and should be about 1″ from the edge of the paper. Really goop it on! The staple seam should be about 0.5″ from the edge of the paper. Each staple should be no more than 0.75″ apart.

IMPORTANT! While gluing and stapling the seams, you DO NOT want to close the area under the feet or inside the legs (outlined in red below). You need this part open so you can put the costume on.

no seams hereOnce the seams are done, have the person who will be wearing the costume slide it over his/her head. You will definitely need help with this step! Marissa stood on a stool and gently lowered the costume while I shimmied my arms into place. Then we marked where my mouth was and trimmed the excess paper from around my feet. That’s when this photo appeared on our Instagram. It was a bit claustrophobic in there!

Then Marissa, back up on the stool, slowly pulled the costume off. Using the mark we had made by my mouth, we cut an opening for my face, and added paper plate eyes with pom-pom pupils, masking tape icing, and pom-pom buttons.

finished cookie costumeThey’re hard to see in the above photo, but there are additional paper patches hot glued along the cookie’s armpits. When I tried the costume on the first time, the armpits ripped right away, so we added the patches to reinforce those areas.

We also figured the head of the costume was going to blow off while I was running, so we stapled a poster board head band to the front of the costume (right above the mouth). It worked, but only for a little while. The main problem was that once the head band slipped off, I couldn’t put it back on (my hand was encased in a paper mitten!).

head band inside costumeWhen it was time for the cookie chase, Marissa and I ducked out of the library with the costume, a stapler, and the cookie prizes. We hid behind a building, and, using some stairs to get some height, Marissa slid the costume over my head. Then she used the stapler to quickly close the seams along the insides of my legs.

When the kids were gathered outside the library, I walked out where they could spot me…and the chase was on!

The costume starting ripping right away, but the kids did not care. All they saw was a cookie in need of pursuit. It was like Lord of the Flies meets Candy Land! When the chase was over, all the kids were award a cookie and a high five.

high fives for all

Has this post made you hungry for some real gingerbread? Check out this truly astounding Strega Nona gingerbread cottage! Mmmmm…

Let Us Ride

let us rideDon your finery and trot the countryside on a beautiful, ornate steed! And if you happen to see a sturdy little pony named Fritz, don’t forget to stop and say hello!

We read Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1987). Once upon a time, there was a walled city that was famous for it’s beautiful horses. But outside the city lived a plain little pony named Fritz. Fritz wanted to be like the beautiful horses, but no one was interested in a pony with a shaggy mane, fuzzy ears, and a whiskery muzzle. That is until one day, when the bridge is threatening to collapse and the children of the city are stranded on one side. The beautiful horses are too flighty, skittish, and snobbish to cross the river and take the children to safety. But Fritz, being both gentle and kind, is more than willing to help. Now, the walled city is proud of it’s beautiful horses…and it’s hero pony.

You’ll need:

  • A 2.5″ x 22″ strip of poster board
  • 1 sheet of tissue paper (mine was 19.5″ x 11.5″)
  • 1 goose quill
  • 1 large embossed foil seal
  • 1 pony head template, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper
  • A 11″ x 27″ piece of white poster board for head
  • 2 rectangles of white construction paper for ears (approximately 2″ x 3.5″)
  • Construction paper for mane and forelock
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • 2 black dot stickers for nose
  • 2 strips cut from a manilla file folder (approximately 0.75″ x 9″)
  • 2 small embossed foil seals
  • A 41.5″ piece of PVC pipe for stick
  • A 35″ piece of ribbon for the reins
  • Hole punch
  • Packing tape
  • Stapler, scissors, tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

If you’d like to make a jingling tassel for your bridle, you’ll need:

  • 1 book (mine was 6″ long)
  • 12′ of yarn, plus a separate 3″ piece
  • A 9″ piece of curling ribbon
  • 1 jingle bell

 We’ll start with your noble hat, and then proceed to the pony with optional jingle tassel!

hatFirst, use the markers to decorate a strip of poster board. Circle the poster board strip around your head, then remove and staple. To create the poofy top to your hat, lay a sheet of tissue paper flat on a table.

hat step 1Gently lift and pull each corner of the sheet to towards the middle, gathering the corners together like this:

hat step 2As you can see in the above picture, the tissue paper sheet now has 4 “points” sticking out of it. Fold those points towards the center of the sheet as well.

hat step 3Your tissue sheet is now fully bunched. Carefully drop your hat band on top of the bunched tissue paper, and reopen the bunched edges until they meet the inside of the hat band. Staple the tissue paper around the interior perimeter of the hat band.

hat step 4Flip the hat over and tape a jaunty feather to the outside. Stick an embossed foil seal over the shaft of the feather to compete the look.

hatUp next…the perfect pony!

ponyFold the large rectangle of white poster board in half to form a smaller, 11″ x 13.5″ rectangle. Then, place the pony head template (shown below in red for better contrast) onto the folded poster board. Make sure that the nose of pony is lined up with the fold in the poster board. Cut along the template, leaving the “nose fold” intact.

pony templateNext, shape two ears out of the white construction paper rectangles, color the insides with markers, and staple each ear at the bottom.

earsThen staple or hot glue an ear to each side of the pony’s head.

forelock 1To create a forelock, make a 1.5″ cut down the fold of the head, directly between the ears.

forelock 2Fringe a small piece of white construction paper. Slide the fridge into the cut and secure it to the interior of the pony’s head with hot glue. Repeat on the left side.

forelock 3To create the mane, fringe a piece of white construction paper (use a 9″ x 12″ piece for a long mane, or a 4.5″ x 12″ piece for a short mane). Secure the mane inside the pony’s head, along the neck with hot glue. Repeat on the other side of the pony’ head.

manePunch a hole on each side of the pony’ mouth. This is where the reins and tassel will loop through.

reinsTime to decorate! Hot glue two wiggle eyes onto the head, and create nostrils using black dot stickers (you can also skip these materials and simple use markers to draw the eyes and nostrils). If you’d like a curly mane, wrap the construction paper fringes around a marker or pencil.

To make a bridle, decorate 2 manilla file fold strips with markers, and attach them on both sides of the head with tape or hot glue. Add a pair of small embossed foils seals at the bottom. If you have time, bring out the Bling Bin to add some extra flourishes, wind some curling ribbon through the mane.

ponyYou can see reins and a tassel in the above photo, but don’t put them on just yet! It’s time to attach the pony’s head to the stick. Open your pony’s head. Lay the stick on one side of the head, making sure that the end of the stick is 1.5″ away from the fold. Use packing tape (not regular tape) to attach the stick to the neck. Use at least 4 pieces of packing tape to make it really secure.

attaching stickThen, close the head and put a few staples into the base of the head, around the stick.

close up of stick staplesThread a ribbon through the holes in the pony’s head and knot it behind the stick. The jingle bell tassel dangling from the pony’s bridle is purely optional, but I have to say the kids LOVED them. I prepped the tassels in advance. To make a tassel, wrap yarn around a book (my book was about 6″ long).

tassel step 1 Cut the yarn off both ends of the book. You now have a little pile of yarn like this:

tassel step 2Knot a piece of curling ribbon around the middle (curling ribbon is easier to thread through the opening of the jingle bell)

tassel step 3Fold both sections of the yarn downwards and knot another piece of yarn around it like so

tassel step 4Trim overlong pieces of yarn off the sides and bottom of the tassel and you’re done!

finished tasselThread a jingle bell onto the curling ribbon, then thread the curling ribbon through the holes your punched in your pony’s head. Knot securely. Your pony is finished, climb on and ride!

If you’re still not feeling the decadence, may we suggest a cape? Attach a large piece of tissue paper to your shoulders using two embossed foil seals like so:


flying rider