Stephens College Children's School students decorate cookies after petition

Thursday, December 19, 2013 | 5:32 p.m. CST
Classes at Stephens College Children's School decorated gingerbread men cookies and houses Thursday. The idea was inspired by Natalie James, a fifth-grader at the school, who wrote a persuasive letter and created a petition to have class time to make gingerbread men.

COLUMBIA — Natalie James, 10, a fifth-grader at Stephens College Children's School, wanted to bake. So she wrote a persuasive letter and petitioned her teachers to tie gingerbread decorating into the curriculum.

After a unit where students read and wrote stories about gingerbread people, Natalie was disappointed. She had expected students would have the chance to decorate their own cookies instead of making them out of construction paper.

She decided to use the persuasive essay writing skills she learned earlier in the year to take action.

Natalie wrote a letter to her teachers saying that baking gingerbread men would teach students how to cook, and she had other students sign a petition to decorate the cookies in class. To afford the ingredients, she suggested that students ask their parents or that the students could write a grant.

Hannah Vonder Haar, one of the three team kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers at Stephens College Children's School, said she thought Natalie's idea was creative and was "glad she was thinking intuitively."

Natalie's enthusiasm was infectious. Inspired by the elementary school project, pre-k classes Thursday decorated gingerbread houses with frosting and red and green candy, and the kindergarten through fifth graders decorated gingerbread people.

"It is a fun activity to end to year with," said Beth Watson, a team kindergarten through fifth-grade teacher.

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