Not Your Ordinary Gingerbread House

Gingerbread Houses are a part of the holidays This one is different. It requires no baking. Think Rice Krispy Treats® for the holidays. We use flavored Rice Krispy Treat® mixture for the walls, roof, door, trees, and any other structures. I use the regular recipe on the cereal or marshmallow package. When the margarine and marshmallows are melted, I add a package of flavored gelatin or instant pudding for color and flavor. For the houses I have three batches: 1) lime gelatin for green, 2) cherry gelatin for red, and 3) chocolate pudding for brown.

Stir in the cereal. Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cover the mixture with a second sheet of parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Use the rolling pin to roll the mixture to the same thickness. Use firm pressure when rolling. Let the mixture set until firm, chill if desired.
We make the sides of the house from the brown mixture. We use copy paper to make the pattern for the house. Fold a piece of copy paper lengthwise. Then fold about 1/3 of it back along the length. This will create two long sides and two shorter pieces for the front and back.

Cut two triangles from copy paper, and put these along the short edge. These will be the peaks of the front and back. Use the pizza cutter to cut out the sides front and back.
Now let’s measure for the roof. The roof needs to be the length of the long side, plus extra for the overhang. The height of the roof will be same as the peak of the front, plus extra for the overhang. Here’s what we did, using the pieces and copy paper to make the pattern.

Lay Roof Pieces 1 and 2 on the red mixture.

Now the real fun begins.
Jayde and Jordyn spread the roof pieces with royal icing to place Rice Chex® cereal “shingles.”

The completed roof pieces even have snow on the shingles.

Now the girls decorate the front, back, and two sides with candies, bells, holly, and an open door.

We use royal icing on each edge to position and hold the front, back, and sides together.

Jayde and Jordyn have the house together.
Now we just finish the decorating with more icing and candy.

Stained Glass Jars Make Great Gifts

Earlier, I showed the stained glass jar I made re-using a jelly jar. Today Jayde (7) and Jordyn (10) start with two pickle jars.

In  Nancy Larson® Science 2, children learn to describe objects by their physical characteristics. One characteristic is whether the object is transparent, translucent, or opaque. With this project, children see the characteristics of a jar change from transparent, to opaque, to translucent, to almost transparent. The final version makes a colorful votive or candy jar that children can give as gifts.
The clean jars are transparent. To
begin the project, coat the jar with white glue.
Now Jordyn’s jar is opaque.
We let the glue dry for several hours or overnight.
The glue is dry and the jars are translucent. We cut white copy paper to fit inside the jars.
Now the girls draw the design they want to
use and color it with markers
Jayde places her paper design
inside the jar to use as a pattern.
Now Jayde uses regular watercolor
markers and colors the outside of the jar.
Her paper design shows her where to color.
Jordyn is intent on following her pattern.
She used several coats of color from
the marker to make the colors more intense.
Jayde removed the paper design
from inside the jar and shows how she
colored the jar to match the paper pattern.
Jayde has colored her jar and is ready
to make the marker color permanent.
We spray the outside of the jars with clear
acrylic varnish and watch the jars go
from translucent back to transparent.
Now that Jordyn’s jar has been
sprayed, it can be hand-washed
in warm water.
We put votive candles in the jars
so the girls could see how the light
shows off their designs.
We used battery-powered
tea lights for safety. The girls
have options for their gifts.
They removed the tea lights.
Then we filled the jars with jelly
belly flops and other candies.
The jars are ready to wrap and give.                                                                        Jordyn has everything ready.

Holiday Packages and Recycling Shredded Paper

The recycling bins were stuffed with everyone’s holiday junk mail and catalogs, so I dragged our bag of shredded paper back home. Then an “Aha!” happened. Packing gifts to ship to family required padding. What to use? That bag of shredded paper was perfect. We’re repurposing and saving money. To keep our family from opening boxes which shower them with paper bits, we put the gifts in zip-closed bags and the paper shred in plastic shopping bags.

Holiday Art – Transparent, Translucent, Opaque

In Nancy Larson® Science 2, children learn to describe objects by their physical characteristics.

One characteristic is whether the object is transparent, translucent, or opaque.

This project incorporates these descriptions of a jar. The children watch their jars change characteristics

several times. The final versions make colorful votives that children can give as gifts.

I like to have the children work on their jars while I’m reading to them after lunch.



Start with a transparent jar.                 You’ll need white glue

Here I’m re-using a jelly jar.                like Elmer’s School Glue.



Spread a coating of glue over                  The white glue covers the 

the sides of the jar.                                 jar and becomes opaque.



As the glue dries, you can see                The glue is completely dry

the jar change from opaque                   and the jar is translucent.

to translucent.



Use regular markers to color                   Since my jar was embossed with

the jar. I’ve found inexpensive                fruit, I followed these shapes.

markers work best.                             



For more intense colors, use the              Handle the jar so that fingers

markers to add several layers                 don’t touch the outside colored

of color.  Let the jar dry                          glass. The marker colors will 

between layers.                                     come off easily on fingers.



You can create blended colors                   When you’re done adding color,

by layering shades. Be sure to                   let the jar dry, then spray with

start with the lightest shade and                 clear acrylic. I apply two coats.

work toward the darker ones.                    This keeps the colors in place

For the peach, I started with                      and makes the jar hand-

yellow, then pink, and lastly orange.           washable.



Your jar is now almost transparent               Use a battery-powered tea light,

and very colorful.                                       and it’s a glowing votive. 


I’ve used candles for older children.

The flameless tea lights aren’t as

bright, but they are so safe to handle.