Pratt County Extension bread making class and other classes teach good food choices and where food comes from.

The flour was flying and things got messy when Southwest fourth graders learned how to make bread from scratch as part of Kansas Day activities.

Every year, the Pratt County Extension Office offers the event as a way to teach students where food, specifically flour, comes from and how it is processed into food like bread, said Pratt County Extension Agent Jodi Drake who wanted students to understand bread just didn't magically appear on the grocery store shelves.

The ultimate goal of this food project and others she presents for the Extension office is to teach the students to identify food groups, how to make healthy food choices and to sent home information to the parents and encourage them to try out the recipes.

Drake taught the students the cycle of planting, growing, harvesting and processing the flour as well as the various parts of a wheat kernel.

Part of the lesson is devoted to the difference between yeast bread and quick bread that doesn't use yeast. Students learn that it takes longer to make yeast foods, like bread, than quick bread foods that use baking soda and baking powder to make food like pancakes.

Students work in teams of four and each group has some of the ingredients at their table plus other ingredients that Drake and the teachers and a student volunteer provide.

Two types of flour are used to make the bread. Whole wheat flour comes from the Hudson Flour Mill and white flour comes from a mill at Kansas State University.

The flour is mixed in a bag with yeast, warm water, oil and sugar. Getting all the ingredients into the mixing bag tends to get messy and students clothes get a little messy but the kids love it.

"The kids get excited at any chance to get messy," Drake said.

Once all the ingredients are in the bag, the teams work together to mix every thing thoroughly. Then the bag is allowed to rest so the yeast can got to work. When students open the yeast packet, the reaction to the aroma is varied, some like it, some don't.

During each step in the process, Drake explains why the steps are important and what they do.

Once the dough is ready, it is cut into four equal portions and the students get to work kneading the dough and that takes a while. After the kneading process is over, the dough is formed into a rectangle, rolled up, the ends are pinched shut and the mini loaf is place in a small baking tin.

Drake then bakes the bread in the ovens in the fairgrounds ovens, allowed to cool then returned to the students so they can taste the efforts of their labor.

Besides teaching bread making, the Extension Office does other food making programs as well. First graders get a chance to make ice cream in a bag. Ingredients are simple with just milk, vanilla and sugar. They just put the ingredients in a bag and just shake it until it becomes ice cream and the students really enjoy shaking up ice cream.

"You wouldn't believe how much fun that is," Drake.

Once the ice cream is done, the students get to eat the fruits of their labor. It doesn't matter what the temperature is outside, the students like it.

"They don't care how cold it is. Ice cream is good any day," Drake said.

Like the lessons for bread, Drake teaches students where milk comes from and how a liquid becomes a solid. There is also a book, "The Ice Cream Bear" that goes along with the project.

"We do learn something. It's not just about eating ice cream," Drake said.

Drake also presents a farmers market salsa lesson for third graders. For this project, Drake pre-makes the salsa and the students dissect the ingredients. They learn the food group for each ingredient and their nutrients. There is also a snack associated with this project such as a breakfast bar.