Quick idea that came to me yesterday as I was getting ready for our annual pre-Pesach homeschool matzah bakefest: set up a “grain museum” so kids can actually SEE the grains that become chometz (leavened). This is a fun, tactile way to “meet” the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye) – especially if you actually HAVE all five grains on hand.
With no preparation, I only had four out of five in the house – I used the last of the spelt flour in a loaf of bread yesterday. I put out a couple of different forms of each grain, if possible: I had whole wheat berries plus wheat flour (semolina), whole barley, steel-cut oats along with rolled oats and Cheerios, plus rye flour, so they could see that it’s a different colour.
Meeting the grains hopefully makes concrete the ultimate dichotomy, the chok (incomprehensible Divine law) of Pesach: these grains are at once the only five that can become chometz AND the only five which can be used to make matzah, which, of course, we are commanded to eat on Pesach.
I also included a display of “kitniyos” – beans, rice, and two kinds of corn (yellow cornmeal and white “quick grits” aka polenta-grind cornmeal, depending on whether you’re in the South or in Italy).
Things went downhill when it came time to actually bake. I couldn’t believe it: this was the very first year that I have actually FAILED in my mission to bring children together and create actual, edible matzah in 18 minutes. I preheated the oven to 500°, but I guess I should have done it a bit sooner, because the first few took forever, and I think it was actually 25 minutes before we had any finished matzah.
We also had more kids than I’ve had before, plus, now that everybody’s older, I gave them their own bowls of flour. I think last year, I just dumped everything in the food processor. I did use the pasta roller again, even though I’m much better with a rolling pin now than I used to be, mostly because it’s kind of neat and gives the place a fancier “matzah factory” kind of feel.
Here’s Naomi Rivka with her finished matzah. I like how this is “activity time” and “making lunch time” all in one.
The weather was so beautiful that when they weren’t baking, the kids were all running around outside. Eventually, when we’d all finished eating, we went to play in the park instead of the regular Thursday homeschool drop-in.
Previous matzah baking sessions!
- Last year – 2011, which I mention that it was “slightly less successful than next year’s” (I think I meant LAST year’s!) and listed a bunch of things to remember for NEXT year (ie this year), which I completely neglected to read until just now… doh! Note to self: drier dough next time, use the food processor, and roll it super, super thin.
- Previous year – 2010