In a startling revelation, fourth-grader Sutter Duerst proved last week that something can indeed be warm and "cool" at the same time. As an added bonus, that something happened to be educational, too.
Sutter's realization came Friday during a "Bread in a Bag" lesson at Strawberry Park Elementary School where, for the past five years, students in Don Schwartz's and Katie Knezevich's fourth-grade classes have culminated units on health and nutrition with the bread-making exercise.
With a focus on the nutritional value of grains, particularly whole grains, the school's food services employees gave each student a plastic bag filled with measured amounts of flour, sugar and yeast. The students then shook the bags to thoroughly mix the ingredients before adding water to their mixtures. After massaging the water into the doughy mixture, each student added oil, flour and salt to complete the concoction.
Of course, every break in the activity was met with short quizzes and lessons on grains, the food pyramid and the importance of bread in history. After all, bread is known as the staff of life, former food services director Roberta Gill told the students.
With the quizzes and lessons complete, the students transferred the sticky dough mixtures from the plastic bags onto squares of wax paper laid out before each child.
"This is fun," said Sutter, a plastic apron tied around her neck. "It's squishy and warm and really cool."
The teachers and staff members encouraged children to mold their dough balls into shapes and designs of their choosing, to which the students happily obliged.
Olivia Gorr made a giant heart with her dough. David Moran made a basketball in honor of his team, the Spartans, who were undefeated as of Friday afternoon. David said he wanted to save his loaf of bread until the end of the season, when he can share it with his teammates. Students also made pretzels, a sun, a boot and a variety of other shapes and objects. Price and fellow food services employee Susan Paulis placed each hunk of dough onto baking sheets and took them to the school's ovens to be baked. The baked bread was returned to each student in the afternoon.
Schwartz said the activity is a great way to end a four-week unit on health, the digestive system and nutrition.
The activity also is a great way for the school's support staff to work one on one with students.
"It's one of the things that the support staff can really be involved in the education of the kids," Price said. "We're excited to make learning fun for them."
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