It's one of those classroom assignments that doesn't always work out as planned. Maybe the walls are warped or cracked. Perhaps the roof caves in because the humidity is too high, the icing's not quite the right texture or you didn't follow the blueprints you designed.
The pitfalls of making a gingerbread house — never mind an entire village.
That's the 10-year tradition for students in Bob Wright's culinary classroom, one the teacher brought with him to Anclote High after moving from Land O'Lakes High two years ago.
No doubt it takes a bunch of students to raise a village — one fit for a festive faculty party and a classroom display open for viewing throughout the school.
This year's town boasts its fair share of cute little houses and some rather big McMansions, along with a church and a single-wide mobile home complete with a stack of tires made out of lifesavers and an outhouse constructed with thin pretzel sticks.
"I love it, it's so much fun," said Sonora Clemente, 16, as she laid out a church path using Oreo Thin Crisps while her partner, Kyle Frazier, 15, rolled and sliced dough to be baked and used for pews.
Fun is just part of it, said Wright, who grades students on their collaborative work, creativity, construction and academic skills.
"There's math, geometry that goes into this. Architecture, too," he said, noting that all students start with a rough draft. "They're looking at angles in building their roofs."
And while getting a good grade requires that all four walls must be standing with a roof firmly attached, students must also show prowess in time management while working with others.
No doubt it can be a stressful venture, Sonora said. "Things happen. Pieces break."
"And time," Kyle piped in, "is always against you."