National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Wheat and Dolls
3 - 5
1 - 2 hours
Students will learn how wheat is grown and processed into flour and other wheat products and create wheat puppets to perform a play.
- The Wheat Doll by Alison L. Randall
- White 0–6 months bobby socks, 1 per student
- Jumbo craft sticks, 1 per student
- Rubber bands, 1 per student
- 3 cups hard red wheat
- Tablespoons for measuring
- Wheat Theme activity sheets
- Combine toy/cutout (Theme 1)
- Wheat Bundle (Theme 2)
- Wheat Grinder Kit (Theme 2)
- Utah Agriculture Activity Map (Theme 3)
- Weslandia by Paul Fleischman (Theme 6)
Suggested Wardrobe Supplies:
- Low temperature mini glue guns
- Fabric scraps
- Pipe cleaners
- Wiggle eyes
- Sharpies (makeup)
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
combine: a machine that cuts crops and separates the seeds from the rest of the plant, combining the harvesting, threshing, and winnowing processes
wheat: a cereal plant grown in temperate climates, the grain of which is ground to make flour for bread, pasta, pastry, etc.
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Wheat was first planted in 1777 in the United States as a hobby crop (planted for pleasure rather than for profit). It is now grown in 42 states as a small grain for profit.1
- One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds which can produce 42 loaves of white bread.1
- One bushel of wheat contains about 1 million kernels.1
- There are more than 600 pasta shapes made from durum wheat. One bushel of this type of wheat can produce about 42 pounds of pasta or 210 spaghetti servings.1
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Display several different types of boxed pasta such as macaroni noodles, spaghetti noodles, and lasagna noodles. Begin a discussion with the students about where there pasta comes from. Ask, Can anyone tell me what the primary ingredient used to make pasta? Allow the students to pass around the boxes of uncooked pasta and tell them to read the list of ingredients. Then, ask the same question, What is the primary ingredient used to make pasta? (wheat). Ask the students to name other food products that contain wheat. Such answers may include bread, cereal, crackers, pretzels, pizza dough, and cookies.
- Tell the students that farmers grow wheat. This includes planting, germination, growth, and harvesting. After wheat is harvested, it is transported to a processing plant for food products where the wheat seed can be made into flour and then pasta or other wheat products. Many hands go into the making of pasta and other wheat products before it winds up on our dinner plates.
- Show the video clip North Dakota Ships Durum Wheat which follows wheat from the farm to the pasta product it becomes. As you show the video, ask the students to watch closely and determine how many different types of workers (careers) they can identify (wheat grower/farmer, truck driver, wheat processing plant CEO, wheat inspector, and wheat technicians).
Activity 1: The Wheat Doll
- Tell students that you are going to read The Wheat Doll by Alison L. Randall. Ask them to make predictions about the text from the title using their prior knowledge about wheat and pioneers.
- Read The Wheat Doll to students, and then discuss how their predictions compared to the story.
- Ask students what they learned and what they can infer about wheat and the pioneer lifestyle from the text. For example, where does Mary Anne’s family live? What is the climate? In what time period does Mary Anne live?
- Read the “More About Mary Anne” section at the end of The Wheat Doll book. Ask the students if their inferences and conclusions about wheat and the pioneer lifestyle were right.
Activity 2: Theatrically Exploring Wheat
- Share the background information and the diagram of a combine harvester with students.
- Split students into groups. Explain that they will be exploring wheat through wheat-themed plays that they will write and then perform with wheat puppets they create.
- Assign each group a wheat theme (suggestions attached).
- Ask students to create their “actors” as described below.
- Wheat Puppets
- Prepare a table with wardrobe supplies that students can select and take back to their table to apply.
- Give each student an infant sock, a rubber band, and a craft stick.
- Provide each group with a bowl of wheat (approximately . cup for a group of four) and a tablespoon.
- Students should hold open their sock and allow another student to carefully pour 2 tablespoons of wheat kernels into the sock (Figure 1).
- Gently insert the craft stick into the middle of the wheat (Figure 2).
- Tightly wrap the rubber band around the sock and stick approximately 1–1.5" from the toe of the sock (Figure 3).
- Students should design a costume for their wheat puppet based on the characters in their script (Figure 4).
- Wheat Puppets
- Instruct students to write their scripts using the prompts on their Wheat Theme activity sheet.
- Ask groups to perform their wheat puppet play for the class.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Wheat is an agricultural product grown in Utah and other states.
- Wheat is primarily grown for food. It is processed into flour that can be made into many different types of food products such as bread and pasta.
- Wheat is the seed of a plant. The seed is separated from the plant when it is harvested by a machine called a combine.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Have students chew hard red wheat into gum.
As a class, grind wheat kernels into flour with a hand-grinder to make bread or tortillas. A Wheat Grinder Kit, including recipes for making bread and tortillas in a Ziploc bag is available for purchase.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Bread In A Bag (Activity)
- Wheat Weaving: How to Make a Corn Dolly (Activity)
- A True Book: Wheat (Book)
- Bread Comes to Life (Book)
- Bread is for Eating (Book)
- Bread, Bread, Bread (Book)
- Farmer George Plants a Nation (Book)
- From Wheat to Bread (Book)
- Glorious Grasses: The Grains (Book)
- Pancakes for Breakfast (Book)
- Pancakes, Pancakes! (Book)
- The Wheat Doll (Book)
- Wheat Bundle (Kit)
- Wheat Grinder (Kit)
- Utah Agriculture Activity Map (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- America's Heartland: Wheat Harvest (Multimedia)
- Bread Comes to Life (Multimedia)
- Modern Marvels: World's Largest Combine (Multimedia)
- Wheat (Multimedia)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Provide examples of agricultural products available, but not produced in their local area and state (T5.3-5.e)
Education Content Standards
NCSS 1: Culture
Objective 1Culture' refers to the behaviors, beliefs, values, traditions, institutions, and ways of living together of a group of people.
Objective 2Concepts such as: similarities, differences, beliefs, values, cohesion, and diversity.
NCSS 2: Time, Continuity, and Change
Objective 1The study of the past is the story of communities, nations, and the world.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.