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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Little Red Hen Grinds Flour

Lesson Description:
Wheat, a grass cultivated worldwide, originated in the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley near present day Iraq. It was planted in 1777 for the first time in the United States and is now the primary grain used in us grain products. About 75 % of grain products in the US are made from wheat. It is grown in 42 states. Kansas is the number one wheat producing and flour milling state.

Wheat grain is used to make flour. Flour, a powder made from cereal grains, is the primary ingredient of bread. In a 1½ pound loaf of bread there is approximately 16 ounces of flour. Flour is milled by grinding grain between stones or steel wheels. Today small appliance mills are available in both hand-cranked and electric models. One bushel of wheat produces about 42 pounds of white flour or 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour. Flour is used to make bread, bagels, pancakes, pies, doughnuts, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, pasta, juice, gravy, noodles, pizza dough and couscous. In North America and Europe wheat flour is one of the most important foods since it is the main ingredient in bread and pastries. in addition, wheat flour is utilized for fermentation to make beer, alcohol, vodka, or biofuel.

Wheat can be grown in the winter but is susceptible to frost or inclement weather. Wheat usually requires about 110-130 days from planting to harvest. Some people plant wheat as a cover crop in the fall. This last crop of winter wheat will be turned back into the soil in the spring to help add nutrients and structure to the soil and prevent erosion over the winter. it also leaves a standing crop, rather than a barren garden during the winter.

  • Note: teachers may wish to do this lesson along with two other lessons on the GEF website: Little Red Hen Plants Wheat and Little Red Hen Bakes Bread.
  • Before grinding wheat activity:
  • Read the classic children’s story "The Little Red Hen."
  • Children will discuss and respond to questions about story elements (characters, settings, events, problems, solutions).

Grinding wheat activity:
  • Pour the whole grain into the top of the grain mill..
  • Turn the lever for 2-3 minutes or until flour is formed. be sure to have a bowl underneath the mill to hold the flour.

After wheat grinding activity:
  • Students can complete the included sequence worksheet. Two activities are included on the worksheet. Children will identify the sequence of grinding grain into flour and the sequence of events in the story.

  • Students can discuss different foods that contain flour.
  • Students can compare the whole wheat flour they made to flour that is available in grocery stores.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening
  • Other

Time Needed:
30-40 minutes
Standards Addressed:
Language Arts Standard 5: use the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
  • Benchmark # 2: use meaning clues (e.g., story structure and repetitive phrases) to aid comprehension and make predictions about content (e.g., character’s behavior).

Language Arts Standard 6: use reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary text.
  • Benchmark# 1: use reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of familiar literary passages and texts (e.g., picture books, predictable books).
  • Benchmark # 3: knows setting, main characters, main events, sequence and problem in stories.
  • Benchmark# 5: relate stories to personal experiences.

Technology Standard 4: understand the nature of technological design.
  • Benchmark# 2: know that tools (e.g., grain mill) have specific functions, such as to do things more easily.
  • Benchmark# 3: know that people are always inventing new ways to solve problems and accomplish work (e.g., a grain mill to grind wheat into flour).

Technology Standard 6: understand the nature and uses of different forms of technology.
  • Benchmark# 2: know that technology is used to improve what humans get from crops by reducing the amount of work needed.

Materials Needed:
  • hand operated grain mill
  • several cups of whole grain
  • bowl
  • "Little Red Hen Sequence Worksheet" (included below)
  • a copy or multiple copies of "the little red hen"

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