Posted by: jwhiff | January 21, 2013

Bread Science

IMG_1200Bread is so much fun to make with K’s.  I bet most of you have images of many parent helpers and a lot of fussy measuring…but no!  Bread is not like that.

First, I started with yeast.  Yeast is fun stuff to experiment with because it dramatically comes to life under the right conditions.  I filled my water table with luke-warm water, and put out some small cups (old applesauce containers), plates of yeast and food for the yeast.  Everyday, there was a new food for the yeast to try.  It was easy for the children to see which food the yeast liked best because the more it liked it, the more it grew.  We tried sugar, corn starch, flour, vinegar, cream of tarter, and salt.  We also tried mixing the food.  The children put as much or as little of the food into their cups.  They loved this and were happy to try it over and over again for about a week.  We debriefed together and I drew results on chart paper.

The next step was bread.  We worked on it over two school days.

First, I placed the children into small groups.  Each group had a clear glass measuring cup with about a cup of warm water in it, a mug, and some forks or spoons.  The mug first held some sugar.  The children took turns sprinkling it into the measuring cup and stirring.  The children let me know when they had dissolved all of the sugar and then I wandered around and plunked some yeast (about a tablespoon) into each cup.

After 10 minutes (and a little carpet activity to keep everyone busy), the yeast was growing happily and it was time to stir in some flour and a bit of salt.  I used the mugs to scoop up some flour for each group and then it was back to turn-taking and stirring.  I also wandered around and drizzled some olive oil into each cup as they mixed.  When their mixture was nice and thick, it was time to sprinkle extra flour on the table, scoop out the gooey mixture, and sprinkle more flour on top.  Then…I tell you…it was absolutely blissful.  The children plunged their hands into the mixture, squishing, pulling, smooshing and squealing with joy.  It was one of those great moments in teaching.  And remember…no measuring!

I did have some help with this…I definitely needed help scraping the dough off of the children’s hands and washing them.  The actual process of making bread was easy and required very little adult input.  Just a little extra flour sprinkling and that’s about it!  After they had had a lot of fun with the dough, we (the adults) put it into plastic freezer bags to rise.  The hardest part of the whole endeavour was washing everyone’s hands!!

In the afternoon, I pulled out the dough at playtime and let them “exercise” it…adding more flour and kneading it.  They also loved this.  When playtime was over, back it went into the freezer bags.  I let it rise over night in the fridge.

The next morning, the dough was ready for shaping.  Everyone received a ball of dough and they made it into one single shape each.  I had butterflies, tornadoes, pizzas, caterpillars, letters…all kinds of things.  I let them rise for about an hour and then into the oven they went for about 20 minutes.  By the time second playtime rolled around, they were ready for eating or storing away to show moms and dads.

You have to try it…so much fun, such great science, and so memorable!

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