When we are in the Southwest region of our Native American unit, I take the kids outside (while the weather is still nice!) and we grind corn to get a feel for what it would have been like.
One rock per student, fist size or larger
One tub per group to hold materials (I use a plastic dish pan - $1.98 each)
Ears of squirrel corn, two or three per group (I end up getting two bags for ~60 students)
Cup and/or Ziploc to hold ground corn, one per group
This is what I overheard this year:
- "It was hard because it would go all over." - This is from the first "bashing" technique that they try. They always start with bashing. Then they gradually decide that grinding works very well, just like they saw in a video. What a coincidence!!
- "I thought that ladies were supposed to do this." - From an ELL student who ended up being really good at it and thought that he would have liked this job. He also said that he probably wouldn't have had the opportunity because he would have to hunt.
- Discussions of which rocks would be more suitable for arrowheads or scraping, rather than grinding (the smoother rocks tend to work better).
- "Teamwork is always important."
- "It's so hard to get in a good position."
- "Indians worked really hard."
- "I don't like chunky bread." - I told them the more fine the meal, the smoother the bread. Note: We didn't make this into bread for obvious reasons, but I spoke about it as if we could.
- "One hundred kernels of corn on the ground, one hundred kernels of corn. Take one down and smash it around, ninety-nine kernels of corn on the ground." - This led to a great discussion on why people sing when they work, especially during repetitive tasks.