The Story of Wheat – Lesson Plan

Students learn the story of wheat as they explore its significance in the lives of pioneers and in their own lives.

  • Length: 4 30-minute lessons
  • Grades: K-3


  • Students understand how bread is made from wheat.
  • Students recognize differences between past and present daily life.
  • Students apply elements of dance to perform and create original dances.
  • Students experience different purposes of dance.

Resources Used:
“Weevily Wheat,” Program 3 in the KET-produced series Dancing Threads: Community Dances from Africa to Zuni. It is taught by Appalachian storyteller Anndrena Belcher.

Vocabulary, Materials, and Handouts

purposes of dance, recreational dance, shape, space, wheat, harvest, mill

TV with VCR or DVD player -OR- computer with screen and internet connection, video of and instructions for “Weavily Wheat” from Dancing Threads, classroom musical instruments

The Little Red Hen

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Instructional Strategies and Activities

Day 1

  1. Make cornmeal or barley pancakes to share with the class.


    • 1/2 cup whole wheat, barley flour, or cornmeal
    • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 Tbsp. cooking oil

    Mix dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients. Makes about 24 small pancakes.

  2. Discuss the types of grain ingredients used in the pancakes. Tell students that grain has long been important in people’s diets. Show students examples of different types of wheat from a Google image search.
  3. Ask the class to think of what the pancake and the dance might have in common. Watch the dance “Weevily Wheat.” The two things they have in common is the circular shape and the wheat or barley.
  4. Talk about shape and the way circles are important in many social dances. If time allows, practice some social dances that use a circle, such as “The Hokey Pokey,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” and “Ring Around the Rosie.”

What Is Space in Dance?
Space is the area in which you create a dance. Space includes direction, size, pathways, levels, and shapes.

Day 2

  1. Play music and experiment with the shape of the circle in dance. Have students stand in a circle and hold hands. Give students various instructions to follow for eight counts each. Have students count aloud to 8 after each dance instruction.

    Some sample instructions:

    • Walk forward to make a smaller circle.
    • Step to the right to turn the circle. (Teacher should point.)
    • Step to the left to turn the circle the other way.
    • Walk backward.
    • Drop hands and spin around.
  2. Practice the dance until students can remember without your verbal instructions.
  3. Once the pattern is learned, allow students to take turns changing or adding elements to the routine to make new dances.

Day 3

  1. Tell the folktale of “The Little Red Hen.” (Choose a book from the library, or use the handout.) Discuss the steps necessary in making bread from wheat; e.g., planting, growing, harvesting, milling, mixing, and baking. Discuss how at one time many people went through these steps to get bread. Use the web resources listed in the Support section to show how grain is grown and harvested today.
  2. Use the handout “The Little Red Hen” to read as a class script. Have the students sit in a circle. Read the story through 2-3 times with different students playing the roles.

Day 4

  1. Discuss dance as a form of storytelling. Ask the students to consider how they could turn the story of the “Little Red Hen” into a dance.
  2. Read the script again. Discuss how motions and music could help tell the story. Talk about dancing for different purposes. Talk about the dance as a social or recreational dance.
  3. Using classroom instruments to keep a steady beat, direct students to create a rhythm that dancers can follow. Alternate selecting different students to play the roles in the story. The narrator’s part could still be read while the other parts are danced. Work toward creating an atmosphere where students respect others’ efforts and feel free to be expressive.

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Applications Across the Curriculum

Social Studies
Study the history of pioneer farming.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event: Students create a dance to tell the story “The Little Red Hen.”
Directions: Use expression and movement to tell the story as cast in “The Little Red Hen.”

Performance Scoring Guide

4 3 2 1 0
Student shows creativity in expressing the story through dance. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student moves to the beat. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student moves to the beat. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Movement is appropriate to the story. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Student is respectful of other students’ movements. Student does not participate.

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Support - Connections - Resources - Author

  • Google Image Search: Classes of Wheat
  • Wheat Mania! has history, activities, and trivia about wheat production in the U.S.
  • Crop Profile for Winter Wheat in Kentucky

Mary Henson

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K-12The Arts