Make: A DIY Gingerbread Play Bakery for Kids

Oh snap, we’ve gone gingerbread crazy! Over the weekend I made a pair of adorably silly gingerbread softies, and while playing with the felt and patterns, it dawned on me that the thick felt was perfectly-suited for some real-life-sized play gingerbread cookies.

I sat down with some scissors and came up with a bundle of holiday gingerbread shapes – houses, icing outlines, traditional winter-themed shapes, even gingerbread people that have already been nibbled on (I tend to start with the arm, myself).

A group of our handmade felt and cardboard gingerbread bakery cookies sitting on a table with small bowls of decorative candies.

Bakeries are one of my favorite dramatic play arrangements for kids. The imaginative play processes can help encourage the development of actual kitchen skills, reduce stress, support good communication, and motivate self-initiated independent play. Cookie-decorating works out fine motor skills, and simple math can easily be incorporated.

If you have older kids, these felt cookies are also a good way to practice simple stitches and embroidery. Sew on a button, practice embroidering an eye, make a simple pattern. Their size is perfect for little hands, and free stitching looks super cute on these little sweets.

Packed up with some real baking utensils, this set of felt gingerbread “cookies” makes a darling handmade gift for little ones!

Make more holiday gingerbread magic with the tutorial and free patterns for Nibble and Snap – our DIY gingerbread softies!

For your own DIY Gingerbread Play Bakery Kit you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC DIY COOKIE SUPPLIES:

FOR FELT “ICING”

  • Small squares of felt in assorted colors

DECORATING SUPPLIES:

  • Felt scraps, buttons, beads, sequins, ricrac, bells, or similar items for extra decoration
  • Yarn and/or ribbon
  • Fabric paints and a couple of brushes
  • A low-temp glue gun or craft glue

FOR CARDBOARD “ICING”

  • DIY Puffy Paint
  • Assorted hard candies or baking decorations

DIY Gingerbread Play Bakery Kit Instructions:

  1. Download and print our gingerbread cookie templates

    Download and print the gingerbread cookie templates you’d like to use. Choose a variety of gingerbread people, holiday shapes, or gingerbread houses!
    Download and print the desired gingerbread cookie templates | via barley & birch

  2. Trace and cut out

    Trace onto the felt. I make light lines with a permanent marker, then just flip over for play. I also used a thick felt (I think it’s typically used as a base for needle felting). This felt made really nice, thick cookies that work especially well for pretend play and covering with felt “icing”.
    Trace our gingerbread cookie templates onto felt or cardboard and cut out. | via barley & birch
    Cut out your felt gingerbread cookies using craft or sewing scissors.

  3. Play!

    Gather and layout simple supplies, then watch them bake!
    Make an adorably simple DIY gingerbread play bakery out of felt or cardboard! This is a wonderful pretend play activity for kids that also helps to develop fine motor skills. | via barley & birch

This time of year I’m positively buried in cardboard boxes (especially now that I’m getting most things delivered instead of doing in-store shopping). You can put those boxes to good reuse by switching up the felt for cardboard and making some paintable gingerbread “treats”!

I ran across this wonderful DIY puffy paint from The Artful Parent that would make the perfect piped “icing” on nice thick cardboard cookie cutouts! You could use a layer of colorful paint for icing, or pipe on details and features. Add some decorative craft supplies (think small pom poms, buttons, paper scraps, googly eyes, chalk pastels, jingle bells, feathers, hard candies, etc.)

Looking for a way to add some “piping” to your gingerbread cookies, but want to avoid the extra cleanup of paint? Making piped features with yarn and white craft twine is a great way to work with some unique materials and practice a new style of “drawing”.

8 of our DIY felt gingerbread cookies decorated with felt icing and sewn details, sitting on a baking sheet next to a wooden spatula.

Ideas for setting up your DIY gingerbread play bakery…

There are so many ways you can arrange a simple play space for bakery fun. Here are a few of my favorite kitchen dramatic play supplies – all things you probably already have at home!

  • A Cookie sheet
  • A Spatula
  • A Rolling pin
  • An Oven mitt
  • An Apron
  • Cookie cutters
  • Sprinkles or hard candies
  • DIY gingerbread playdough and mixing bowls
  • Brown lunch bags (for packing up cookie orders!)
  • Signs and forms from our printable play bakery kit

Simply set all the pieces on a low tabletop or the kitchen floor and watch them go to town! Let them mix some play dough gingerbread, roll it, then use cookie cutters with it. Invite them to decorate their cookies by placing bowls of cake decorations or craft supplies out. Put in orders and invite your little ones to match your order with their cookies and package up a specific number.

Forms and stickers from our DIY printable play gingerbread bakery kit sitting on a light green background with gold glitter and small sprigs of cedar.

More simple gingerbread art and play ideas

  • Print our big gingerbread people templates, trace onto cardboard, and use felt or scrap fabric scraps to dress them in festive holiday clothes. Glue a popsicle stick to the back to turn your gingerbread people into simple gingerbread stick puppets.
  • Print a page of small gingerbread people onto cardstock, decorate, and tape a ribbon to the back for simple but lovely kid-made ornaments.
  • Make a 3D holiday village! Visit our modern mini cardboard village post to see how we used these gingerbread templates to build a fab small world scene to decorate the mantel.
  • Feeling the holiday time crunch? Print a few people and house templates out onto cardstock or copy paper for an instant gingerbread art invitaion. Kids can color and design their own gingerbread people with crayons or markers.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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