Thursday, October 11, 2018

October - How Corn Came to the World

Monday, October 8, was Indigenous Peoples' Day. Here are a few notes from our week of Indian Corn Fun!

Our corn activities this week all came from the lovely book Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash. This book is a Waldorf early childhood classic which is -- surprisingly -- out of print and inexpensive. She helps you transition into a Waldorf classroom or home slowly season by season with a host of easy to follow activities, organized step by step and labeled with specific age recommendations!

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

Circle Time


  • "How Corn Came to the World" Plains Indian legend
    retold in Suzanne Down's original book of Autumn Tales
  • add Corn Maiden doll to the Nature table
  • Corn Muffin recipe
  • "Removing Kernals from the Cob" from Earthways, page 56

    Corn Muffins

    1 cup cornmeal
    1 cup flour
    3 T sugar
    4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup milk
    1 egg, beaten
    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients. Place batter into paper lined muffin tin and bake 15-18 minutes. Makes 1 dozen muffins.


  • "How Corn Came to the World" Plains Indian legend
    retold in Suzanne Down's original book of Autumn Tales
  • "Stringing Necklaces" from Earthways, page 57
  • make Amish Friendship Bread starter
  • "Lovely Yeast Go to Bed" from The Singing Day, track 18

    Amish Friendship Bread Starter

    1 packet active dry yeast
    1/4 cup warm water
    1 cup flour
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup milk

    In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand for 10 minutes. In a glass, plastic, or ceramic bowl, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and the proofed yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture and let stand at room temperature until bubbly.

    Our local newspaper is focusing on Amish Friendship Bread in October. Each Wednesday they will be including new recipes that you can make using this starter. We began it today so that we can bake with it next Thursday and send home a starter for each of my three early childhood families. You can find lots of recipes online, but here's the basic outline of the process:

    Amish Friendship Bread Timeline

    Day One - make starter as explained above

    Day Two, Three, Four, Five - stir the mixture, keep covered, keep at room temp

    Day Six - feed the starter
    add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk to the starter and stir to combine, keep covered, keep at room temp

    Day Seven, Eight, Nine - stir the mixture, keep covered, keep at room temp

    Day Ten - feed the starter
    add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk to the starter and stir to combine

    Remove one cup of the starter to use in an Amish Friendship Bread recipe, or save it to feed and grow it all over again. This day would be your Day One of the cycle. Divide the remaining starter into one cup portions and give to friends with directions on how to stir and feed the starter. This day also acts as their Day One.

    If, instead of giving it away, you want to freeze those extra 1 cup portions of starter, place each portion in a freezer safe bag, remove the air, label the bag, and toss it in the freezer. It should keep indefinitely. When you thaw it, remove from the bag and place in a bowl. The day you thaw it counts as your Day One if you want to feed it and grow it. Or you can go ahead and bake with it after thawing.


  • "How Corn Came to the World" Plains Indian legend
    retold in Suzanne Down's original book of Autumn Tales
  • "Grinding Corn" from Earthways, page 59
  • "Grating the Cobs" from Earthways, page 63

Grinding corn was so much fun and the children were delighted to discover that they were making cornmeal, just like what we used in our recipe at the beginning of the week. This is way simpler than it sounds because all you need is a vintage hand crank coffee grinder. I got mine on eBay for about $18. You pour the dried corn kernals into the hopper, turn the crank, and open the little drawer. Voila! Cornmeal.

And, of course, today was Stone Soup day! Here was our list of contributions to the Stone Soup this week:

fresh parsley
sweet red pepper
delicata squash
white potato

I've had several people ask me to explain the process we use for making Stone Soup. Of course, it will be different every time because you don't know what the children will bring. First each child washes his or her contribution. I have a large colander for pasta that I set over the sink and they come and stand on the kitchen stool and wash their veg. After each veg is washed it is chopped. Basically, you then sort the veggies and add them based on how long they will take to cook. Here's the rough process I followed today:

We washed everything and cut it up. I chopped the potato into larger pieces so they wouldn't get too soft too soon. I knew I was going to add these towards the start of the soup. I cut the pepper up very small. For the delicata squash, I cut it lengthwise and removed the seeds, then cut it into narrow half moons. It doesn't need to be peeled. I also kept the broccoli florets and the apple pieces fairly large and left the skin on the apple.

Then I diced an onion and started it working in a few tablespoons of olive oil. I then added the vegetables that would need more time (carrots, celery, potato, pepper) and let them cook in the oil for a few minutes. Then I put in a very large spoonful of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and three quarts of water and the stone. I let that simmer for a bit and then put in the squash. I turned it up to just under boiling and let it cook until the veg was just getting tender.

I waited on the remaining ingredients because I knew that the apple, parsley, spinach, and broccoli didn't need as much time. Broccoli especially! All cruciferous vegetables will get sulfery if they are overcooked.

Right before we started our Circle Time I put the broccoli and apple in and turned the heat way down to a simmer. After Circle Time, as the children were washing their hands, I popped in the spinach. I pushed the spinach under the level of the broth and turned off the heat so that it would just briefly warm in the hot broth. I snipped the fresh parsley over the soup right before serving.

It was a delicious soup and thank you to everyone for your contributions!

We finished sewing the beautiful dragon finger puppets this week. We also added several new play elements to the classroom, beyond the great fun of just having 30 ears of Indian corn to explore and disassemble. I gave the group 5 lbs of cornmeal for the outdoor mud kitchen on Monday and it was a big hit. They loved mixing up their own corn muffin concoctions! I also purchased some awesome new jumbo sized playstand clips from my newest local toymaker connection over at Boulder & Bloom. And I added to my collection of wooden Holztiger animal figures: lion, giraffe, pink flamingo, mole, badger, and sheep.

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