The first graders’ overarching lesson this year is the process by which food goes from seed to market. We have looked at produce such as lettuce, taking the plants from seeds to table.
The Little Red Hen offers a story about how wheat goes from seed to table.
On January 23, Mrs. Hawke’s class heard the story of The Little Red Hen and planted wheat grass, a popular health food which is actually the sprouts of hard winter wheat. Students learned how wheat is a grain, and that all grains are grasses. The first grass seeds harvested were crab grasses, which we consider weeds today, which were harvested by Stone Age people. Grains were domesticated on many continents, resulting in the grains we eat today: rice, corn, wheat, amaranth, barley, millet, and others. Almost everyone on earth eats some kind of grain.
Students learned about the process the little red hen went through to plant, water, weed and harvest her wheat. They learned how she cut the wheat when it turned from green to gold, and how she threshed it to loosen the grains from the stalks. They examined a real sheaf of dried wheat stalks, and the grains that come out of them, and learned how threshing has been done over the ages. They looked at a variety of grain seeds — millet, amaranth, and barley and wheat — and learned how the seeds are ground into flour. They then planted wheat, millet and amaranth in a flat container with a plastic lid, to try to sprout the grains in class. Next week Ms. Schultz’s class will participate in the same activity, and we’ll see how high the wheat grass has grown. Later, the class will try grinding wheat seeds into flour and baking breead.