Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our Life-Size Gingerbread House

I made another gingerbread house this year. Once again, I worked by myself and it took about 2 hours.  I took photos of the process this time.  My 2016 comments are italicized.

The kids are LOVING the life-size gingerbread that I build for our classroom.

For the past couple of years I have made some sort of box structure for our classroom.  Here are pictures of my previous castles and big red barn:

In each case I used Mr. McGroovy's plans and most importantly his special box rivets.  The box rivets cost less than $20 for a box. The rivets are reusable but I couldn't find my rivets from last year so I ordered more from Amazon Prime and got them in one day.  Because there are only 2 seams, the house could probably be connected with tape but I know the rivets will stand up to  20 rambunctious pre-k students so I think they are well worth the cost.
Mr. McGroovy's box rivets
For my other projects I downloaded plans from Mr. McGroovy.  For the gingerbread house I pretty much just winged it.
I got 2 large refrigerator boxes and 2 dishwasher boxes from a local appliance store that does its own deliveries.  If you can find an appliance store like this it is easy to collect the boxes.  I suggest you call around.  The trick is to bring a utility knife with you and cut off the top and bottom of the box.  It is then easy to fold the box and fit it in your car.
This is an illustration from McGroovy's website showing how to fold boxes to fit in car.

I brought the boxes to school and cut them open so I basically had large pieces of cardboard with 3 seams. I took the 2 large boxes and cut them like this (the 3 vertical lines are the box folds):

A couple hints - put extra cardboard under the piece you are cutting to avoid cutting into your floor.  Second, you don't have to be at all exact.  In this picture, I am using a piece of cardboard to make the line as I cut the box down/
My boxes weren't the same size  but working with cardboard boxes is very forgiving (so are  my little ones who don't care at all that the back of the house is a little narrower than the front:)
In 2016, I was only able to find one intact refrigerator box. I got a second but it had been cut in three pieces. It wasn't a problem to put the pieces together with the rivets.

This is one of the rivets connecting the side to the back.
I laid the boxes back down and cut our windows and a door.  Once again, don't stress about it being perfect.  I cut out one window and then used that cutout as a template and cut around it for the other windows. 

I cut out windows and a door.

I then stood the boxes up and connected the front shorter sides to the back shorter sides with a couple of rivets. This is what the house looked like after I put the 2 big boxes together:
corner brackets
I cut the corner of a smaller box to reinforce the corners.

This is a photo of me adding the corner reinforcement.  You can see that I use the awl to make a hole and then  put the rivet in.
The house is strengthened with corner brackets made from the corners of small boxes.  If you look closely, you can see the brackets in the corners.
The roof was made with the 2 smaller boxes that I cut to the same size and riveted together.  It would have been easier to use another big box but I didn't want to go back to the appliance store.(I had to use 2 boxes for the roof again in 2016 :( 

The roof is attached by cutting flaps in the roof near the front and back walls. Attach the flaps to the walls using rivets to secure the roof.

Before attaching the roof, the kids (and teachers) cut close to 100 paper plates in half and then cut out the centers to make the icing for the roof.  I then hot glued the plates to the roof and put the roof on the house.  The kids used the plate centers and other plates and cardboard to create LOTS of candy decorations.  Most of them have been sprinkled with clear glitter when the paint was still wet so the house looks especially sugary and delicious. I have been attaching candy with a glue gun each day after school.

In 2016 I hot glued paper plate icing along the top of the roof before  I tried it out on the house.  As I said, I don't measure too much so I just cut the roof down after I added it to the house.

This is the house ready for a few more rivets (I need someone inside and outside to connect the roof.) This is what the kids will see when they come to school. 

I'll add more photos of how they embellish this year's house.

Paper plate icing on the roof.  The hole in the roof is the little flap I cut and attached to the front of the house with a rivet. 

lots of glittery candy - that little orange gummy worm might be my very favorite decoration :) The black dot is the rivet holding the corner bracket in place.
adding glitter

If you have any questions you can email me at 


  1. You're so creative and I've missed your posts! It's good to see you again.

    1. Thanks Tammy, I have so enjoyed keeping up with you even though I haven't been feeling very motivated to blog. :)

  2. Replies
    1. No, I don't save them, I asked my families if anyone would like them. In each case only one family expressed an interest so I invited them to come in and take the castle apart. I asked them to send the rivets back when then were done with the castle.

  3. I LOVE your cardboard creations. The kids will take a little bit of the magic of making them and plain in them for the rest of their lives.

  4. Thanks Sandi, I think the magic of the boxes is that the space they create is "kid space." While we may stick our head in to remind the kids to use "inside voices" we usually don't invade the space.:)

  5. All I can say is WOW! That's so amazing, Lyn.
    I'm also glad to have you back. Will we See more posts again? Keeping my fingers crossed :)

  6. Wow!! Stunning. Gingerbread house looks so creative. My daughter was insisting me to make a small play home school like this for their game and I have got idea from here for that. Now she is really excited to show the house to her Phoenix preschool friends.

  7. Cute and creative. Cotton used for filling pillows, would be pretty cool for snow.

  8. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this amazing site needs much more attention.
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  9. Wow, these are awesome ideas! You are so creative, I want to try all of these out someday. This just proves you don't need to spend so much money on toys when all you need is a box! :) I'm sure the children loved helping decorate the gingerbread house.

  10. How do you actually attach the roof to the main building?

  11. Beautiful, great job. I make houses and castles for my grandchildren when the weather is cold. I have never seen the rivets before. I use strips of old sheets. I poke two holes in the cardboard and push the fabric through and tie it. Holds up well and I can take it apart very easy. Thanks for the great information. Happy Thanksgiving

  12. LOVE THIS!! We are going to try and make this for our first graders this year! One QUESTION... what size rivets do you suggest? They sell double layer and single layer.....

  13. Grandma has a bad knee, so this is a great idea for me to make for the grandkids. Hope it looks as good as yours.

  14. I'm making a smaller one for my cat to lay down in . What a great project to do! And u are recycling also , I love doing stuff like this!

  15. Woww! Just loved the creativity. I'm surely making one for my daughter. I'm sure she will love it !


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