As the Ks are studying the differences between living and non-living things, I thought yeast (living), and it's crucial role in making bread (non-living) would be an authentic connection to their daily lives. I used this recipe which I bake weekly at home. There are 3 kindergarten classes in our school.
First I showed a video on how we make yeast water (see below). We set out to trap the yeast on top of and inside the dates, as well as in the air, in a bottle of water. To prove to students that yeast is a living thing, I connected it's need for oxygen, like us, by opening the bottle of water twice a day. This is also to prevent the buildup of gas, that could explode, if left unopened for long periods.
We also fed sugar to the yeast and shook it to ensure that sugar dissolved. Again the connection to humans is that we also need food, and sometimes we also eat sugar.
We left the yeast water for 5 days so that the students could see the visual difference as the yeast grew inside.
Last year, I baked bread with instant yeast with the Ks, but to emphasise how yeast is a living thing that needs to be fed, to breathe and to be shaken, I thought yeast water would demonstrate this more effectively. It took time for yeast to grow, about 5 days. The students could see and smell this. You can see how the yeast developed in the photos above.
It took about a week to do this:
Yeast water - 5 days
Starter dough (ferment in fridge overnight) - 1 day
Bread dough (ferment in fridge overnight) - 1 day
Bake bread, cool and serve - 1/2 a day
If you do this, remember to take the yeast water home over the weekend to avoid an exploding bottle. To make it easier, you could also make the starter dough at home, and then bring it to school to make the final dough.
Our baked loaf looked fabulous, but due to the oven at school, I found the inside of the bread a bit dense, though it was thoroughly baked, as indicated by the absence of any residue when I cut the bread.
The Ks loved eating the bread, gained confidence with their baking skills, and maybe even learned a thing or two about living and non-living things.