Sweet structures at the Portage County Public Library: Gingerbread Houses event
By Taylor J. Hale
Special to the Gazette
STEVENS POINT — The Portage County Public Library offered children a chance to showcase their architectural
prowess at their annual Gingerbread Houses event on Dec. 18.
Staff and local volunteers helped kids, and their families, build a festive and imaginative structure from the sugary rations, while simultaneously growing their academic and critical thinking abilities.
“The youngest children can hone their fine motor skills while older children breakout those STEM skills they learned in school,” explained Nicole Ozanich, assistant director at Portage County Public Library.
The free event is over a decade old and has grown exponentially since its origins. Organizers used to prepare for 10 to 15 participants. They now plan for more than 100 visitors to come each year. Plover, Rosholt and Almond libraries have begun to host similar events in the wake of the success of the Gingerbread Houses program. Ozanich sees it as a cheaper alternative to comparable at home projects, while still giving kids the independence they require to design
“A project like this can also become quite expensive to do at home, so we are happy to be able
to take that burden off of our families,” she said. “All the supplies necessary to make a complete gingerbread house are divided equally onto plates for each child. Instructions for house building basics are provided, but each kid can be creative and build and decorate any kind of structure their heart desires.”
Ozanich has helped with the program for nine years. She feels that the event can help construct closer bonds with the library and its guests.
“When it’s cold outside, families are always looking for fun and free activities to do together,” she said. “The library is a wonderful community gathering space, and families especially love to come, create a gingerbread house and visit the children’s area to play and check out their next round of books to take home.”
The gingerbread celebration will take place again next year at Stevens Point, Plover, Rosholt and Almond libraries. Kids get to build and take home their creation, along with any leftover sweet supplies. The program blends festive cheer and imperative cognitive faculties in a delectable fusion of gingerbread and approachable architecture.
For more info on other family events at the Portage County Public Library, visit https://www.pocolibrary.org.