National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Little Red Hen

Grade Level(s)

K - 2

Estimated Time

1 hour


In this lesson students will use the story The Little Red Hen to learn about wheat production and bread making. Students will thresh their own wheat and grind it into flour to make bread.


Activity 1:

  • The Little Red Hen book or story

Activity 2:

  • From Wheat to Bread by Kristin Thoennes Keller
  • Harvesting Wheat video
  • Stem of wheat, 1 per student
    • Wheat stems can be obtained from a local farmer, or Wheat Bundles are available for purchase
  • How To Do It! Threshing or Removing the Seed handout
  • Wheat Grinder
    • A hand-cranked wheat grinder is preferable because it will allow each student to participate in the process, but an electric grinder will also work.
    • A Wheat Grinder Kit is available for purchase
  • From Seed To Harvest activity sheet

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)


chaff: the debris that is separated from the seed when grain is threshed

combine: a machine that cuts crops (such as corn or wheat) and separates the seeds of the plant from the rest of the plant

thresh: to separate the seeds of crops like wheat, corn, or dry beans from the plant

wheat: a widely cultivated grain that grows in tight clusters on tall stalks and which is typically ground into flour to be used in breads, baked goods, and pasta

Did you know? (Ag Facts)

  • Wheat is a member of the grass family that produces a dry, one-seeded fruit commonly called a kernel.1
  • One bushel of wheat contains approximately one million individual kernels.1
  • In the United States, one acre of wheat yields an average of around 40 bushels of wheat.1
  • Kansas is the number one state in flour milling (grinding the seeds into flour) in the United States.1

Background Agricultural Connections

Wheat is a type of grain. It is useful as a livestock feed, but most wheat is used as human food. It is nutritious, easily stored and transported, and easily processed into a variety of foods. Unlike any other plant-derived food, wheat contains gluten protein that causes leavened dough to rise, forming very small gas cells that hold carbon dioxide during fermentation. This gluten and fermentation process produces light-textured bread. Bread and other wheat products are high in carbohydrates and contain valuable protein, minerals, and vitamins.

Types of wheat are grouped based on the season in which they are planted and whether their grain is hard or soft, red or white.The five major types of wheat grown in the United States are: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, white, and durum. Both hard-red winter wheat and hard-red spring wheat are ground into flour that is used for making bread. Another class of wheat, durum wheat is used in macaroni, spaghetti, and other pasta products. Soft-red winter and soft-white wheats are grown in the eastern part of the United States. These types of wheat have less protein. They are used to make flour for cakes, biscuits, pastries and other breakfast foods.

Spring wheat is planted in April or May and harvested in August or September. Winter wheat is planted August through October, begins to grow, goes dormant in the winter, and then continues to grow once the snow melts and the soil warms in the spring. Winter wheat is harvested in May, June, and July. Durum wheat is used specifically for making pasta. The most popular types are hard red spring wheat and hard red winter wheat.

A piece of machinery called a combine is used by farmers to harvest the mature, golden colored wheat. The important part of the wheat plant is the seed head which contains the wheat seeds. A combine cuts the wheat plant and separates the seeds (the grain) from the stem and the protective outer hull. The action of separating the seeds from the plant is called threshing. The grain is collected, and the rest of the plant (referred to as the chaff) is used for animal bedding or forage. The wheat seeds are then sent to a mill to be ground into flour.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Show your students some stalks of wheat, wheat seeds, and flour. Ask if they can tell you what each item is. Once each item is identified, ask if they know how they are related. Explain that each item represents a step in the process of making flour. Wheat grows in a field and produces tiny seeds. The seeds are then removed and ground into flour.
  2. Ask your students to name some of the foods that can be made using flour. (bread, cake, cookies, brownies, etc.)


Activity 1: Story of the Little Red Hen

  1. Read The Little Red Hen to the students, using the actual book or the attached story.
  2. After you are done reading, divide the board into three sections. Label the sections Beginning, Middle, and End. 
  3. Ask the students to retell the story according to the sections. Write their comments on the board. You may wish to have the students elaborate on the emotions or feelings that may have been expressed by the little red hen or other animals in the story. Students may also enjoy acting out the different segments of the story.

Activity 2: From Wheat to Bread

  1. Ask students how the little red hen is like a farmer who is growing wheat for us to eat. Use the following questions to prompt students to connect the story to farming:
    • Who grows the wheat that is ground into the flour you can buy from the grocery store? (farmers)
    • Wheat is a plant, and like all plants it needs sunshine, water, and soil to grow. What did the little red hen do to make sure other plants didn't block the sun and use all of the water the wheat needed to grow tall? (she weeded)
    • After the wheat had grown tall and turned yellow, what did the little red hen do to turn it into bread? (harvest the wheat, take it to the mill to be ground, make and bake the bread) How do you think people do these things? 
  2. Use the book From Wheat to Bread by Kristin Thoennes Keller to describe and illustrate the steps taken to transform wheat into bread.
  3. Use the video Harvesting Wheat to show a combine harvester in action. The combine performs two actions: cutting and threshing. Tell students that they will now get to thresh wheat with their hands.  
  4. Give each student a wheat stalk. Help students identify the stalk and the head of the plant. Explain that inside the head of the wheat plant are wheat seeds.
  5. Ask students to predict how many seeds they think they will find in their head of wheat. Have them record their prediction.
  6. Use the instructions provided in the How To Do It! Threshing or Removing the Seed handout or the Wheat Grinding Tutorial video to show your students how to thresh wheat by hand. Then help them complete the threshing process with their wheat stems. When they are done, they should each have a small pile of wheat seeds, a pile of chaff, and the remaining wheat stalk.
  7. Ask students to count the seeds they removed from their wheat stems.
    • Were their predictions accurate?
    • Would they have enough wheat to make a loaf of bread? (It takes about four cups of flour to make a loaf of bread.)
  8. Have each student place their seeds in the wheat grinder. If you use a hand-cranked grinder, allow each student to turn the crank. If you use an electric grinder, place all of the seeds in the grinder and turn it on.
  9. Show students the whole-wheat flour. 
  10. Ask students to describe the similarities and differences between what they have experienced, what the little red hen did in the story, and what farmers do.
  11. Complete the From Seed to Harvest activity sheet as a class or provide each student with a copy to complete individually.  

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Wheat is grown by farmers.
  • After wheat is harvested, it is threshed and ground into flour. Flour is used to make many different food products.
  • Farmers use different tools and machinery to make their work easier. The combine is a machine used to harvest wheat.

Enriching Activities

  • Create an opportunity for students to write or draw pictures about the lessons they learned from The Little Red Hen.

  • Make bread or tortillas in class using flour that the students grind in class with the hand or electric grinder.

    Note: Purchase hard red wheat from the grocery store to grind into flour and use for this activity. Using the wheat the students remove from the wheat stem is not recommended.

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Culture, Society, Economy & Geography

  • Discuss what a farmer does (T5.K-2.a)
  • Trace the sources of agricultural products (plant or animal) used daily (T5.K-2.f)

Food, Health, and Lifestyle

  • Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber, energy and shelter (T3.K-2.b)

Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy

  • Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)
  • Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people (T2.K-2.c)

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

  • Recognize and identify examples of simple tools and machines used in agricultural settings (T4.K-2.b)

Education Content Standards


K-4 History Standard 8A:The development of technological innovations, the major scientists and inventors associated with them and their social and economic effects.

  • Objective 3
    Objective 3
    Describe the development and the influence of basic tools on work and behavior.

NCSS 7: Production, Distribution, and Consumption

  • Objective 8
    Objective 8
    The goods and services produced in the market and those produced by the government.

NCSS 8: Science, Technology, and Society

  • Objective 2
    Objective 2
    How society often turns to science and technology to solve problems.


K-PS2: Motion and Stability

  • K-PS2-2
    Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.

State specific Standards and Objectives

State Standards for UT

Common Core Connections

Reading: Anchor Standards

    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
    Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
    Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.


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