Programs · storytelling

Fairy Good Tales: The Gingerbread Man

We just started a new program at our library to invoke the greater powers of classic folktales and fairytales. It is so important to give children these classic tales that have survived the ages. Let me tell you the ways:

  1. They are strong in rhythm, rhyme, and repetition
  2. They can teach lessons about actions and consequences
  3. Children learn the basic elements of stories including plot, theme, and character
  4. Knowing the original tale builds a platform for understanding & appreciating those uber delightful fractured tales

We also started this program because we wanted to provide an all ages, drop-in on Saturdays. Fairytales are perfect for all ages! They can be complex in theme if a listener wants them to be, they are full of action, and they have familiar characters that kids can latch on to.

I decided to start with The Gingerbread Man, cause, hey, why not? It tends to be for a younger age crowd so at least I wouldn’t loose  the little ones. As families came into the storytime room, children ages 2+ received a cut-out lanyard of an animal: a pig, a cow, a dog, and a horse. These were later used during a group participation of the Gingerbread Man where I had the kids stand up and run in place if their animal was trying to chase the Gingerbread Man.

Gingerbread Man lanyards

So, everyone had their lanyard and was settled into place and I began the storytime with describing why fairy tales are important for children. I also used a puppet which was a slight disaster cause I’m not so good at the whole duel personalities thing. Nutters the Squirrel, if you’re listening, you did a *ahem* spectacular job! After Nutters went away and didn’t come back I prepared to storytell the Gingerbread Man. Before I started I asked the children if anyone liked cookies. They all said a resounding “no!” and that was the end of the storytime……..So, after they said “duh, yes” I asked them what words describe cookies? Has anyone ever eaten a gingerbread cookies? I then jumped into the story.

Storytelling is kinda like the lazy person’s form of acting mixed with a healthy dose of improv. You don’t have to memorize all the lines, just get the jist of the storyline down, and some main phrases, and you good. For prep, I read several versions including…

If the story is a folktale or a longer fairy tale, you have to be considerate of the using the original source. In the case of the Gingerbread Man, each story went along the same lines with no real separation.

I storytold the original Gingerbread Man to a rapt audience. There’s something magical about looking a child in the eye and telling them a story. They become so invested and their imagination creates vivid images from the words you give them. It’s truly amazing. High fives everyone.

Colbert high five

Next, I had everyone stand up and we practiced running in place. Double the pleasure, double the fun because they’re getting their jiggles out and practicing for what’s to come next. I told the original again, only this time with audience participation. Whenever the Gingerbread Boy came across an animal, those that had the corresponding animal lanyard stood up and ran in place.

I then stepped into the fractured tale land. This was a toughy to choose because there are so many great ones. I decided to go with Laura Murray’s “The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the School” and Lisa Campbell Ernst’s “The Gingerbread Girl.”

In between these tales we did the Five Yummy Gingerbread with 5 felt cutouts. I arranged them on a plate and had 5 older volunteers up at the front. We practiced noming down on some cookies and then I read the rhyme. At the end, the volunteers grabbed a cookie from the plate and went at it. After the second fractured tale we did another action rhyme pretending to make gingerbread men. I finished off the storytime by telling the original with felt. (Thank you, Future Librarian Superhero for the simple yet incredibly useful how-to on how to make felt pieces and thank you Miss Mary Liberry for giving me the best how-to for decorating felt with puffy paint.)

We finished with three activities

  1. Make Your Own Gingerbread Boy or Girl – Template with crayons, pony beads, yarn, and buttons
  2. Gingerbread Glyph for older kids
  3. Sequencing cards & Character Cards


A great time overall and I look forward to the next fourth Saturday! And here are the rhymes I used:

Five Yummy Gingerbread

Five yummy gingerbread

Sitting on a plate

The first one said,

“Boy we smell so great!”

The second one said,

“There’s a chill in the air.”

The third one said,

“I see hungry children everywhere.”

The fourth said,

“I think we better run!”

The fifth one said,

“Here the children come!”

Then the children each grabbed one


The five yummy gingerbreads all turned into lunch.


Gingerbread Poem

Stir a bowl of gingerbread

Thick and spicy brown.

Roll it with a rolling pin

Roll it up and down.

With a cookie cutter,

Make some little men.

Put them in the oven

Until half past ten.

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