Seven Grains

My inspiration for this block came from a brief paragraph by Eugene Schwartz on his millennial child website.  I wanted Pintail to learn to identify the seven major grains on their stalks, and also learn about their relationship to the area in which they are grown. What water needs do the grains have?  Do they tolerate heat? Etc.  I also wanted him to taste each grain, study it, and handle it.

I probably could have traveled around trying to find grains on their stalks in the area, but to save myself the run around I ordered several grains on their stalks online.  It wasn’t very cost effective, and when the grains arrived from a city just THIRTY minutes from my home, I felt quite silly.

We learned two songs during this short block.  Mother Earth by Eileen Hutchins and I Saw a Farmer Plough the Field by Christof-Andreas Lindenberg.  The latter is in Music Through the Grades by Diane Barnes and is included on the CD in the book.

The poem we used was Harvest by Molly de Havas from the Waldorf Book of Poetry.

We also began reading “Farmer Boy” (I still can’t figure out how to underline on WordPress) by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Pintail and I LOVED this book, but it did take a long time to read it, stretching into subsequent blocks.

Here are excerpts from Pintail’s Main Lesson Book:

IMG_4330 IMG_4328 IMG_4329 IMG_4331 IMG_4332 IMG_4333 IMG_4334 IMG_4335

We tried recipes for each grain – although some came after the block.

Here’s a family favorite for barley:

Beef Barley Stew

1 Tablespoon butter

1 onion chopped

4 cups beef broth

4 cups water

2 cups chopped cooked beef

1/2 cup carrots diced

1/2 cup celery diced

14.5 oz. diced tomatoes

1 cup pearled barley

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 cup frozen corn

Sautee onion in butter until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and bring soup to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

The highlight of this block was near the end when we went to the pet store and the kids noticed that the budgies were eating millet from stalks suspended in their cages!  Perfect!

5 thoughts on “Seven Grains

  1. licoricelovinglady

    We did the 7 grains for a week as part of our farming block last year. How did you find the millet? We couldn’t eat it because it was so bitter. We really enjoyed “Farmer Boy” too. All through the block my ds begged me to buy a farm!
    We’ll be starting cursive this year (I put it off last year as I still felt his writing was a bit big, and took that as a sign he wasn’t quite ready). Pintail’s cursive is looking very neat – do you have any tips for teaching cursive?

  2. Mrs. Mallard Post author

    Cathy, Thank you for the nice comment about Pintail’s writing! I have no secrets, but tried to follow some advice from former Waldorf teacher George Hoffecker that I remembered from a conference I attended last year. He said to do simple cursive, so the letters aren’t dramatically changed from print, and lean them slightly forward in anticipation. When teaching printed letters, I used the Waldorf-y way of “Sky, Sunlight, and Earth.” This year I just bought some Mercurius handwriting books and taught the letters in the order outlined in the Zaner-Bloser handwriting book (level 3). I like the way they group letters based on “under curve,” and “down curve,” etc., although I never mentioned those words to my son! I have thought about just teaching Wigeon cursive when she’s old enough and skipping print all together.

    The millet recipe we tried was Chickpea Stew from Nourishing Traditions. I didn’t think it was very tasty. I have never tried millet alone!

    I agree with your son! Farmer Boy made me want a farm!

    Mrs. Mallard

  3. licoricelovinglady

    Oh, I like that image of “leaning slightly forward in anticipation.” I think that if I had my time over I might go straight to cursive too. At the very least I would teach printing with little tails as I believe they often do in England. Thank you! Cathy

  4. renee~heirloomseasons

    What nice lesson book work! I thought of including the 7 grains in our farming block the first time we did 3rd grade, but ended up going with something else (farm year story…) Now in 3rd grade again though so maybe this time. The book Baking Bread with Children also has lots of info and stories on the 7 grains.
    And speaking of bread… yes, try the butter! Maybe you already did. I never worry about it clumping up if it cools because I figure once I start kneading then the warmth from my hands will work it all back in.
    Glad to be following your lovely blog now!
    Renee 🙂


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