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August 22, 2012 Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work and Doing Your Fair Share By Shari Edwards
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Welcome to the new school year!

    Summer has come to an end for us, here in Wichita, Kansas. Inservice days are over and I have greeted my newest second graders into my room and my heart. My classroom is filled with excited 7-year-olds; their faces showing anticipation, hope, and maybe a little anxiety. I am realizing, once again, the awesome responsibility I have and the work that’s ahead of us.

    Today I was looking at pictures from last fall and marveling at how my students changed and grew during the year. The first few days of school are so important in making growth happen. I fill the first weeks with a few favorite lessons that my students refer to for the rest of the year.

    One of their favorite lessons is The Little Red Hen.


    The Lesson

    • Begin with a little realia. Show the students the sheave of wheat and pull one head apart to show where the grains are. I use my document camera for this.
    • Read the story, teaching students some basic actions for the characters such as a big yawn for the dog and” talking” hands for the goose.
    • Stress important vocabulary such as: reap, sow,  wheat, kernel, mill, initiative, perseverance, responsibilitygirl showing the wheat she is grinding to flour with a mortar and pestle
    • We discuss the qualities and traits of the characters.
    • Write about and illustrate the character they would choose to be like and why.
    • Grind a few grains of wheat in partners or groups. They discover quickly that this is very hard work!
    • Give each student a piece of bread with jelly and discuss what the story teaches us.
    • Help students build a metaphor that they can use the rest of the year.
      • Characters’ actions can represent different ways students respond to a task.
      • Bread can represent new learning and knowledge, confidence and other rewards of hard work.
    • Critical thinking might come in the form of a discussion on what might happen if a different character tried to grow the wheat or bake the bread.



    The supplies I gather for this lesson take some forethought so I begin collecting in June. I have an uncle who is still farming and before the wheat is cut, I take a little from his field, form it into a sheaf, and save it through the summer. Grains of wheat can be found any time of year. I was lucky to come across several mortar and pestle sets in a pile of discarded science supplies years ago.

    For the rest of the year my class and I will have a common frame of reference when dealing with issues from spending too long in front of the mirror during a restroom break (like the cat might do), or talking when there is work to be done (like the goose). Students respond positively to this gentle, humorous, and “to the point” reminder. And for one entire school year, we all grow a little more.









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