One of my favourite things about home education is that learning is everywhere. It isn’t confined to a place, or a curriculum, or goals which have to be met. We are free to follow interests wherever and whenever they spring up, without restriction.

Earlier this morning I was clearing up in the kitchen when I spotted an ear of wheat I had given Frida a couple of weeks ago. As she had misplaced it I gave it back to her, reminding her that it was wheat. She asked me if it could be eaten like that, so I explained it couldn’t, and that it needed to be processed first.

I got a plate with a spoonful of flour so that Frida could compare them, and we talked about the different foods you could make with wheat flour. I also added some pearl barley – admittedly not wheat, but it was the closest I had in terms of grains for her to explore.

Frida uses flour quite often with me when we cook and bake together, but it was cool for her to make the connection between the dried plant and the processed flour. We also talked about some grains containing gluten and some not; one of her grandmothers is a celiac so Frida finds gluten chat fascinating…

I then remembered that we had a copy of The Little Red Hen. For those of you not familiar with this classic tale, it’s a simple story about a hen who plants some wheat, tends to it, cuts it, takes it to be turned into flour, and then bakes it into a cake (it’s also a morality tale about the benefits of hard work; the poor hen is the only one in her bizarre household who does any work – but then she’s the only one who gets to eat cake). The perfect book for talking about wheat!

I asked Frida if she wanted to read it and she did, so I pulled it out and we read it together. As I was reading, we acted out the story with some of Frida’s wooden toys. We don’t do this very often, but it’s a really fun way of really bringing a story to life.

We then looked up wheat and other grasses in our beloved The Natural History Book which we use almost daily to look up something or other. We saw that barley looks very similar, and that actually the wheat we had looked more like barley than the wheat pictured in the book (cue me googling “ear of wheat images” just to double check! I’m still not 100% convinced it isn’t actually barley…)

I would have liked to do some baking afterwards to put our discussions into (delicious) practice, but we had plans and so couldn’t spend time in the kitchen. We will certainly make some bread, pizza dough, or cake together later this week though.

I just wanted to share this example with you as a reminder that home education doesn’t have to mean fancy Montessori materials, expensive curricula, or rigid schedules. When you have a child, learning happens. It just does. All they need from us is our enthusiasm and support.

Posted by:Eloise R

4 replies on “Learning about grains

  1. Thank you for sharing, its so nice to read about these natural learning experiences and be reminded that children really do just learn all the time. (Just asked the hubs about the wheat/barley. He is quite keen on growing grains and without any prior context he reckoned its barley.)

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