When it comes to science Christmas ornaments, nothing is more fun than making your own! These gingerbread ornaments are a fun science experiment for kids.
We love gingerbread at our house, and one of my fondest memories as a child was making cinnamon dough ornaments with my mom.
We hung those ornaments on our tree year after year, even though one was literally in the shape of a rock (my mom had long since given up on class as a mother of 7). I wanted to recreate this experience with my own kids.
Of course, we couldn’t help but realize that any sort of cooking is an exercise in science and makes the perfect Christmas science experiment! When cooking these ornaments, we learned a lot about how to preserve things, how to mix ingredients to create a stable dough, oven cook times, measuring, and a whole lot more.
Therefore, I declare these gingerbread ornaments, science Christmas ornaments.
Make Your Own Gingerbread Science Christmas Ornaments
We did a variation between the classic cinnamon ornaments and salt dough ornaments to make our gingerbread science Christmas ornaments. This is what you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- Acrylic paints
- Gingerbread man cookie cutter
- Rolling pin
- Cookie sheet
Mix the dry ingredients first. If your dough isn’t sufficiently dark, you can add more cinnamon. We chose to use this recipe because we never have applesauce in the house. Monkey doesn’t like it, so we never buy it.
Add the water a little at a time. You want the dough to look and feel like real gingerbread dough. However, the salt content will make it a little grainier.
Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the oven is heating, roll out your dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Cut out your gingerbread people and place them on a cookie sheet. I think our recipe made 7.
Use a straw to make a hole in the top of each gingerbread person.
Cook your gingerbread people about 1 hour per side. We cooked ours until they looked dry on both sides. We made our dough a little thicker than we should have, so some of our gingerbread men took about three hours to bake properly.
Let the gingerbread people cool.
When they are cool, paint the fronts with acrylic paint. You don’t want to seal the entire surface or it won’t smell like gingerbread. Tie a string through the hole, and your science Christmas ornaments are ready to go!
We had fun coming up with designs for ours. Our favorite designs were a snow person (not pictured, Monkey finished it later), the Santa, and the classic gingerbread man. Bo, of course, just slopped paint on hers, but she was as proud of her designs as could be.
Gingerbread Ornament Science
How is this activity a STEM or science activity? It’s all about what you talk about when you’re completing the project. A lot of science goes into cooking, from what ingredients to use to what temperatures to cook something at, and how different ingredients react. We talked about how salt preserves the dough and prevents it from spoiling, and what might happen if we used yeast or baking soda in our recipe. We will be hanging our new ornaments on our tree as soon as we pick it up from the store (we always get a fresh tree, they smell great!).
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