Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Wheat berries or wheat germ
- Whole wheat flour
- Wheat stalk or picture of wheat growing
- Mortar and pestle (or round stone of a size appropriate for a child's hand and wooden or ceramic bowl)
- Several loaves commercial pita bread, and an alternative for those with gluten sensitivity
- Disposable food service gloves
- Optional: Pictures of various types of grains in the field
Preparation for Activity
- Be sure that there are at least two adults or youth to meet with this breakout group.
- Either on the Internet or at the public library, find pictures of wheat and other grains as seen in the field.
- Either on the Internet or at the public library, find information about the science of yeast. Both Red Star Yeast and Fleischmann's Yeast offer such information online.
- If you are using a stone and bowl instead of a mortar and pestle, wash the stone thoroughly and disinfect with boiling water.
Description of Activity
Invite participants to learn about the process of making bread at the time of the Hebrews' journey in the wilderness. Invite each person to put on food service gloves and to closely examine a piece of pita bread. Tear it open and note the pocket inside. Say, "Let's explore how such bread might have been made in Egypt, before the Hebrews went into the wilderness. And then, we'll think about how bread might have been made from manna."
Show pictures of wheat stalks and/or actual stalks. Look at the part of the wheat that holds the wheat berries and wheat germ. Examine wheat berries and wheat germ closely, and ask participants to guess how those things are converted into flour.
Let participants try grinding wheat berries or wheat germ with a mortar and pestle or with a stone and bowl. Show whole wheat flour and ask how that flour might come to be made into pita bread. Ask, "What needs to be added to the flour?" Affirm "water" and "yeast" as necessary to making bread from flour. Explain the use of yeast, noting that it is a tiny fungus that grows naturally in the wild. While it grows it breathes out air, which puffs up bread, or makes it rise. After it rises, the dough is shaped and cooked in the sun. Traditionally, people would save a bit of the uncooked dough in order to have yeast to make bread the next day. Point out how much work it was to make bread from wheat.
Taste a piece of pita bread.
Say, "Now imagine that you are in the wilderness, away from the wheat fields of Egypt and without the yeast needed to rise bread. You have been told that God will rain down something called manna for you to eat." Show the coriander, explaining that the Bible reports that manna looked something like coriander. Invite each participant to try grinding coriander with the mortar and pestle. Explain that the ground manna was mixed with water and then made into a sort of wafer or large cracker and put into the sun to dry. It did not rise like wheat bread. Ask, "Does anyone remember what the Bible said manna tasted like?"
Tear the pita bread loaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a basket to share at the closing worship. Practice explaining how ancient Hebrews would have ground flour or manna to make bread, so that you can share the explanation during the closing worship.