Gingerbread house shadow box

Preschoolers love to make gingerbread houses, especially if you get to use real candy but trying to glue together the walls of a gingerbread house without lots of help can be almost too challenging for really young preschoolers. However we found a way to make a gingerbread house with candy and the best part is, even my youngest preschoolers could do it all by themselves…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

For our Gingerbread Shadow Box icing, we used puffy paint made from a mixture of shave cream and glue.  I filled a large mixing bowl with a shave cream from the women’s selection of shave cream at the Dollar Tree. It comes in a tall pink can. I like this type of shave cream best for play or art because it has almost no odor at all and the very light odor it does have is raspberry.  This shave cream is also meant for sensitive skin although it still is considered a soap but I love it more than any other kind I have tried to date.  Anyway, fill a large mixing bowl with shave cream and then pour in probably about 3/4 cup of glue. Mix the glue and shave cream together really good so it is creamy but still fluffy…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

You will also want to gather some candy or other materials for decorating your gingerbread house shadow box. I filled our tray with gingerbread man cookies and an assortments of candies which was an invitation to every single child in the class and they just couldn’t wait to make their own box…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

We talked about the use of candy for our art rather than eating it and I assured the children that we could have a piece of each type of candy during snack time later so to be sure to not eat the art candy. My students are super cool about this and did a wonderful job.

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

The children started by adding their icing to the boxes (puffy paint) just like you would when making a real gingerbread house only they could put the icing on anyway they wished. We found it helpful to add the puffy paint by big spoonfuls from the bowl so it wouldn’t take so long to cover the bottom of our entire box…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

Once they had the entire bottom of the box covered with a thick layer of puffy paint icing, then the children were ready to get busy decorating. Most of the children started by adding a gingerbread man cookie (or two or three) and then moved on to decorating their houses with the candy…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

Some children made patterns with the candy. Others placed the candy randomly throughout the box. Well to me it looked random but when watching the children, it seemed every single piece of candy was intentionally selected and placed exactly where the children would like it to go…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

And some children spent a long time carefully selecting and placing LOTS and LOTS of candy inside their boxes…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

While some children were satisfied with just a little bit of candy…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

You will notice that we placed some wrapped candy as a choice too. This little guy came back to the table to make a second box only this time he didn’t want icing, he just wanted to sit and unwrap candy. A great work out for those fine motor skills…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

We make glue boxes often in my classroom but this was our first time to make a puffy paint glue box. You must know that the puffy paint dried over night and it dried beautifully! Absolutely stunning! Still bright white, puffy, and the candy stayed firmly in place…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

Also, I showed the children how to press their candy into the puffy paint and how to take the twizzlers apart to make thin strings – another good fine motor strengthening exercise…

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

Yep, we will add puffy paint shadow boxes to our list of Must Do’s in my classroom!

Gingerbread Shadow Boxes by Teach Preschool

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By |2013-12-30T06:00:06+00:00December 30th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Paula December 30, 2013 at 7:54 am - Reply

    You are brilliant! You have so many great ideas! Thank you for sharing. My students will love this.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Yay! I am so glad you like the idea! I love it too!

  2. Cindy December 30, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

    You are amazing, Deborah! I LOVE all your ideas. You are so inspiring. (:

    • Jill December 30, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

      What another fun idea to share with my preschool class! I am wondering did each child in your class make their own or did you have 2 work on one?

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm

        In this case, each of the children made their own. I have done some in the past where the kids partner up but not this time:)

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Ahh, thank you Cindy!

  3. Ann December 30, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I love this idea!!!! Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas! You are so creative and I love how you use dollar store items! I would like to know where did you get the boxes?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Ann,
      From our local box collection place. People bring boxes there to donate for recycling and I stop by every now and then and borrow a few:)

  4. jackie December 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Love the puffy paint and shadow box idea. Where do you find the sturdy box lids?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      These are some kind of boxes that I think were used for holding cans originally. I found them at our local box collection place where folks bring them in to recycle.

  5. cheryl Gibson December 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    cool idea…I use milk cartons with my 3’s we use icing too attach graham crackers to the outside and then more icing too attach the candies. Works out well

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      I love that Cheryl! We did that last year in my prek class and it turned out great!

  6. Belinda December 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    How well does the puffy paint and candy dry? Are the objects cemented in place & can I display the boxes after the project dries? I love this idea and all your ideas from the site!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 31, 2013 at 1:29 am - Reply

      Yes, the candy stayed nicely in place for us. I stood my completed boxes up on a shelf to display and it looked wonderful!

  7. Michelle @ Delightful Learning December 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    I love this as an alternative to gingerbread houses for toddlers! Very cute, and fun! Did anyone want to eat the candy?!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 31, 2013 at 1:28 am - Reply

      Oh, of course the children asked if they could eat some candy but I let them know that we would have some during snack. I saved them each a small selection for snack time.

  8. Justyna Moczulski January 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I love the Ginger Bread idea, but all the stuff we need to make that are very expensive 🙁

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