December 20, 2012 in Washington Voices

Kids, dads build gingerbread houses, bonds at school

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Nicholas Tebbe and his daughter, Ehlanna, along with Andy Olson and his daughter, Skyah, work on creating gingerbread houses Dec. 13 at the Central Valley Kindergarten Center. Teacher Kim Martins has organized the Gingerbread House with Dad event for the past seven years.
(Full-size photo)

When most people think about parent volunteers in the school, they think of moms and grandmothers. One kindergarten class in the Central Valley School District is working to bring fathers into the classroom in one of its most popular events of the school year.

In Kim Martins and Kasi Miller’s class, fathers of students are invited to come and make gingerbread houses with their children.

“This is one of the memories that they really remember,” Martins said of her students.

Every student gets to spend one-on-one time with a grown-up as they construct their gingerbread houses. If a student’s father can’t make it that day, mom can come, or grandpa or grandma or they can pick a staff member to help them.

The school’s custodian, Scott Doering, was paired with a student this year, as was Principal Sasha Deyarmin.

“They know about it ahead of time,” Miller said. “They try to pick people they know.”

Last Thursday, fathers sat down at tables with their children. The students showed their dads books they had made, “My Little Elf Book,” which included all five senses in their storytelling.

“You will like this one,” 6-year-old Kali Richardson told her father, Kendall.

After the books were read, the teachers collected them. Kali hugged her dad before she went to the front of the room with the rest of her classmates to sing some holiday songs.

Dads took out their phones for pictures and videos of their students singing “The Gingerbread Village,” “The Cookie Snatcher,” and “I Am Santa’s Helper.”

Some of the kids high-fived their dads as they took their seats after the songs.

Martins, Miller and other staff members then passed out gingerbread houses made of graham crackers molded around empty pint milk cartons.

They also received containers of frosting and plates of various candies such as candy canes, gummy rings, red licorice, Hershey’s Kisses and M&Ms.

Granted, just as much candy went into the kids as went onto the houses, but everyone seemed to come up with inventive ways to decorate.

Tyson Crane said he got the time off work to help his son Jace, 5, decorate his house.

Chris Walton, the father of Caleb, 5, said he’s come to help out at the school before and had been excited about decorating.

“It’s cool that people come out and have a project with their kids and help out,” Walton said.

Martins said she lets parents know about the project early in the year so they can arrange their schedules.

“My husband would never have been able to come to this because of his job,” she said, but it seems more and more dads are coming into the classroom these days.

She doesn’t just single out the dads. Later this year, she will have a luau for moms.

“I would say it benefits both” the student and the dad, Deyarmin said.

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