To get ready for Passover this year, the Boulder JCC Kindergarten class became farm to table chefs and made their own matzo (see a video here) from wheat they grew themselves. The students also threshed and winnowed the grain, and ground it into flour.
The preparations for the project started almost a year ago, when the previous kindergarten class planted wheat in the JCC garden. The wheat was tended to all summer and harvested by this year’s class. It was then stored, watched, and dried all winter waiting to become Matzo. The students threshed the dry seed heads by hand and used a fan to blow away the chaff. They milled the wheat into flour with a hand grinder. They added water and it was a race against time to complete the matzo making process. In less than 18 minutes they mixed it, rolled it, baked it, and the product was delicious, hand-made matzo! This spring they will plant wheat again for next year’s class.
The long term nature of the project is one of the ways that Tricia Bebber, the kindergarten teacher, often structures lessons. Giving the kids a chance to see how nature changes over time, where resources come from, and how things are made from start to finish is valuable for their understanding of the world and problem solving skills. The Farm and Sustainability Program at the JCC supports the student’s learning when they have food and nature related projects they want to explore.
In addition to their matzo making soiree, this year the preschool students have already done a lot of nature and garden exploration. They tend their own garden and put it to sleep for the winter by planting cover crop. They tapped their maple trees in time for Tu B’svhat and made their own maple syrup in time for celebrating Purim. After Passover they will be waking their garden up, planting their favorite vegetables, and they may even be raising chicks!