Students get lesson in turning wheat into flour

Cassie Lyman of the Bar L Bar Ranch in Gisela gives a group of first-graders some hands-on practice at threshing wheat plants to collect the seeds for grinding into flour.

Curious first-graders from Mrs. Summers’ class at Payson Elementary School (PES) last week got hands-on experience on how to turn wheat into flour.

Cassie Lyman, of Bar L Bar Ranch in Gisela, is also a volunteer for the Arizona Farm Bureau Advocacy Group. This group helps develop policy to protect agriculture. She also teaches skills to Future Farmers of America (FFA) students.

The class got involved during the hands-on presentation. Lyman started by handing out a coloring page and asking, “What color is wheat?”

Next, she explained that the beef that comes from her farm goes into a bun, which comes from wheat. Then, she showed how the wheat seed is separated from the wheat plant by having the children experience this themselves.

Children broke into small groups and rubbed the wheat plants in their hands, which is called threshing. They watched the wheat seed fall to the ground as they separated the seeds from the plants. The children were very excited to be doing this with their own two hands and eager to collect the seeds and take them to their desks.

Lyman said that on a farm a machine separates the seeds, but thousands of years ago the Egyptians did it by hand just as they had done.

Next the wheat goes to the miller.

Daringer, a student in Mrs. Summers’ class, was picked to be the “miller” during this process. He poured wheat seeds into a grinder, which reduced them to flour. Loudly, Daringer said, “It makes a lot of dust and noise!”

The wide-eyed class excitedly agreed.

Lyman explained how the machine at the farm is also very loud and makes a lot of dust in the air.

Lyman then asked the class, “Do you guys want to turn our flour into bread?”

“Yes!” they cried.

Lyman explained how to measure different ingredients and level off the flour in a measuring cup.

Next, she asked Madison, another student, to add the first ingredient, flour, into a large Ziplock baggie. Then, Nolan measured in the yeast as Lyman explained how the yeast “makes it grow.” Bradock poured in the sugar; Elodie measured in oil and Jessa added salt.

Lyman added water, sealed the baggie and said to the children, “Now we’re gonna squish in from the outside.”

She passed the baggie around, giving each student a chance to help in the kneading process. She explained how the whole class would count together to make sure everyone equally got a turn and she began counting. When they reached the count of 10, the baggie was passed to the next student. The class continued to count until every student got a turn, the count made it all the way to 240.

Finally, Lyman brought out a loaf of pre-baked bread for everyone to taste and enjoy.

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