Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Making Gingerbread Houses...they're not just for the holidays!

The slide show uses a Flash player and may not be visible on some mobile devices. To view the slide show on a mobile device, click here.

Now that you have learned a little about architecture, try creating some buildings of your own...

In 2009 my daughter and I set out to build a gingerbread village from scratch. We decided not to use any kits or mixes and to create our own house patterns. Here are the results.

Click here for a very useful website, with excellent tips, recipes and patterns, to get you started on your own gingerbread journey.

 photos of Pepperkakebyen, Bergen Norway, the worlds largest gingerbread city

Each year the local school children in Norway help to create this amazing city. Why not build a gingerbread city in your community?

Every year in Bergen Norway the entire community cooperates to build the world's largest gingerbread city.

 Everyone, from ordinary citizen, to professional baker, to school child, can help out by creating and submitting buildings in gingerbread. In this way they recreate a miniature version of the city of Bergen. People come from all over the world each Christmas to see this unique work of art.

Learn more about Pepperkakebyen, the world's largest gingerbread city, by clicking  here.

Why not start a gingerbread contest in your community or your school?

 Click here to visit Peddler’s Village in Buck's County Pennsylvania. Every year Peddler's Village celebrates the winter holidays with a fantastic gingerbread competition and display.

Click here for information on how you can enter to win cash prizes (or just exhibit your work).

Click here to see the amazing winners from 2010. 

Art and Architecture facts

Gingerbread is also a term used to describe the decorative detailing and intricate scroll work often found on Queen Anne and Gothic Revival style Victorian architecture.

Look at some historic architecture for inspiration before designing your own Gingerbread house.

Queen Anne Style
For more information about this style of architecture,
 click here

Gothic Revival
For more information about this style of architecture click here
Beautiful historic homes, High Street,
 Perth Amboy New Jersey

Click here to visit a real Victorian house, The Ballantine House at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ.
Stained glass windows from the Ballantine House
To see more detailed photographs of the interior and exterior of the Ballantine house, visit the National Registry of Historic Places by clicking here.
Visit the Ballantine House at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ.Click here for directions.
This historic home is actually part of the museum.

Click here to visit the 'painted ladies' of historic Cape May New Jersey.

Historic Houses to visit

Angel of the Sea, Cape May, New Jersey
Hildreth House, Historic Cape May, NJ

The 'Painted Ladies' of San Francisco
Click here for a  free 'row house' gingerbread pattern.
Use  candy and icing to create your own edible 'Painted Ladies'
Click here for free step by step directions

Wedding Cake House, Kennebunk, Maine
The white lacy trim is called 'gingerbreading'. Doesn't it remind you of decorative icing?

 Click here to visit Waxahachie Texas and walk the annual Gingerbread trail of historic homes.
 Click here to see the mansions of Waxahachie,the Gingerbread City. 

Carson Mansion Eureka California

The Empress, Cape May, NJ
Are you inspired yet?

click here to visit a website full of free Gingerbread house patterns:
According to The Ultimate Gingerbread Website the easiest house to build is the Basic Elf House

Start out by printing out the pattern and reading the directions carefully.

The most important tool you will need for your house assembly is Royal Icing. It is the Gingerbread house glue. Click here for a recipe.

Make the icing thick, almost like play dough. Dust your fingers with confectioners sugar so that the icing will not stick to your fingers. If it's not sticky enough you can roll it into a coil and press one side on to a damp paper towel to moisten it. Practice assembling small graham cracker houses before baking your own pieces.

Do not worry if your house looks a bit messy with icing when you first assemble it. You will be covering everything with candy anyway. I suggest you assemble the walls first and the roof separately.  Then let everything dry over night with cereal boxes propped up against the walls to keep everything from collapsing.

Good luck and happy building. If you send me photographs of your gingerbread house creations I will post them here so they can inspire others. 


  1. Very cool...can you do me one favor and re post it before Christmas next year!!!! lol Patty

  2. TheHelpfulArtTeacherJanuary 7, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I will post the link on Thanksging weekend 2011. I promise. I was NOT prepared for the holidays at all this time. :-).

  3. Yooo Thissss is tuff