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Time for another Geography Quest! National Gingerbread Day seems to be somewhat of a controversy. My research turned up June 5th and November 21st. Either way, Gingerbread is decidedly a winter & Christmas confection so today is a great day to celebrate!
Origins of Gingerbread
Where did gingerbread originate?
- The ginger root was known in Ancient China & India 7,000 years ago.
- The name zingiber means “horn-shaped” in Sanskrit and is based on the shape of the rhizomes (root stalks of the plant).
- Ginger was important in the spice trade
- Used by Greeks & Romans primarily as medicine not for baking
- Brought to Europe by the Crusaders returning home and became popular quickly
- Came to the New World with settlers
- Best ginger is now grown in Haiti and Jamaica
Map the History of Gingerbread
- Map the route that traders brought ginger
- Read about the history of gingerbread and make a map showing the different kinds of gingerbread along with its uses. Do you see a pattern of location vs use?
- Consider the route of traders from China to Europe. What sorts of obstacles did they overcome to bring this spice home?
- Mark both a physical and political map to notice the terrain of the travel.
- Research more to see if my list is complete. Was ginger known in other areas? I found one source that said Ancient Egyptians made a type of gingerbread.
Activities with Gingerbread
It’s too close to Christmas to make much of the Geography Quest now, but there are 12 days of Christmas and before they are over many of us will be back to our routines. Besides, Gingerbread makes us happy all winter long! Here are some other fun ideas for enjoying Gingerbread with your Geography.
- Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett- a very enjoyable adapted tale of the Gingerbread Man (also available for the Kindle) Bonus: Jan Brett’s birthday is December 1st.
- Gingerbread Kits– likely on sale after the holiday, you can buy cookies or house kits. This cuts down on the prep time in making your own fun at home.
- Cookie Kit– from Betty Crocker. Yes, we all love to cook from scratch, but you know…sometimes a simple mix makes it more likely that you’ll actually do the activity! Let go and have some fun. Nothing says good time like cut out cookies!
- Cinnamon Dough Ornaments– like the ones pictured above. Again, Christmas may be over, but the fun lasts. Plus, all the holiday programming is finished and this will make a sweet start to the second half of the school year. The link includes a brief video by the folks at McCormick.
So, get ready to kick off the second half of the school year with a very tasty sort of Geography Quest. I’ll be doing some thinking and preparing for school during this Christmas break. Maybe you are too. Consider incorporating your baking with geography- or eat left over cookies and do this Quest in the presence of all the Gingerbread houses you made this season!