The Grain Chain

Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Not so horrible histories…

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Following on from the history of baking feature in our last blog, we thought you might like to find out more about the early history of bread. It might not be anywhere near as exciting as horrible histories of course…but we reckon it’s definitely getting there!


Most people could be forgiven for thinking that history was driven by great scientists and ambitious people, but if you look closer, you’ll find that many of our inventions were actually driven by food availability, production and delivery. In other words, bread! Many kings and queens throughout history put a strong emphasis on feeding the people – they knew that the more hungry their populations were, the more insecure their rule over them was.

 bread egypt

In prehistoric times, cereal was ground between two stones to make a coarse flour like substance. This would have been moulded into course, flat cakes and cooked on an open fire. At around the same time in Egypt where their civilisation was more advanced, bread was commonplace. Paintings on the walls of tombs depict bread being offered to the gods. It is likely that all of these breads were leavened because the water in the Nile contains the same strain of yeast that is used in baking today!


Elsewhere the leavening of bread was beginning to become more common.  Initially this is thought to have come about by accident – the natural environment contains yeast in the air and a paste of flour and water will begin to ferment if left for a couple of hours. Some sourdough breads to this day are still made using this method.


So have cereals always been grown and milled in Britain? The answer is no. The Romans brought wheat, oats and rye over to Britain along with many of their bread making techniques. However, this new found skill of baking didn’t last long once the Romans left and during the Dark Ages, the process was very hit and miss.

 wheat harvesting 1800s

By the Middle Ages however, people had begun to use horses for ploughing. The watermill and windmill were invented and society began to get itself more organised. The loaves produced during this time were normally huge, around 4.5kg and were expected to feed a family for a week.


In Tudor times, for the poor, bread was made from a mixture of grains whilst peasant bread was made from peas and beans. Meanwhile the rich were acquiring a liking for white bread.  White bread was considered superior for two reasons, it was expensive and it implied prestige. The church used a white bread called Pandemain as the sacramental bread and people took this to mean better.


Bread in England continued to be made of mixed grains until well into the Victorian era. Imported wheat became plentiful and was milled in the ports for distribution to the growing urban population. Most breads after this time were made solely using the wheat grain.


What happens now? How is bread made?


Resources on cover the entire process from growing the crops, to harvesting, milling and baking.


For age specific resources, click on the following links:


Growing and harvesting – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Milling - age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Baking – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16

Happy Harvest!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

 apple muffinsMake the most of British Food Fortnight!

It’s British Food fortnight between 20 September and 3 October. Why not make the most of Britain’s fantastic seasonal produce by trying out some of our recipes? They are graded according to their difficulty and can easily be done in the classroom or at home.

You could try our recipe for apple muffins

You could always add some wild blackberries to the recipe as these are readily available in hedgerows across the UK. After some careful washing they’ll be ready to use and of course… they’re free! You may want to remind children never to pick and eat any berries without an adult present or without being 100% sure that they are edible.

Did you know… there are over 1200 native apples for eating, cooking, as well as for cider and apple juice making and crab apples for pickling. Despite this, most growers concentrate on a few commercially proven varieties.

Alternatively, if you are after a savoury, or main meal option, then why not try making our veggie crumble ? You could substitute the suggested vegetables for more seasonal British varieties. These include broccoli, carrots, courgette, leeks and peppers. Why not introduce more exotic vegetables that children may not have tried before such as pumpkin, butternut squash and aubergine?

Harvest is over

Most of our farmers have now harvested their wheat, which gives you the perfect opportunity to explain to your class what happens next. We have ready-made resources aimed at different age groups which teach children about how the grain is harvested, milled and baked. These include worksheets, information sheets, interactive whiteboard activities, quizzes, games and videos!

We’ve collated a few here that you might want to try out but there is lots more on the website so why not have a browse!

For 5 to 7 year olds:

Worksheet about what happens to grain from field to fork

For 7 to 11 year olds:

• An interactive whiteboard activity introducing the grain chain

For 11 to 14 year olds:

Find out what happens after the harvest

For 14 to 16 year olds:

Find out about every aspect of the Grain Chain

Get ahead and get organised for the new school year with our useful tips

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

stressed teacherDifferent people look forward to different things as September approaches. Parents breathe a sigh of relief as calm reins over the household once more. Children look forward to putting on their shiny new shoes and seeing their friends again. Teachers on the other hand can look forward to early starts, getting the classroom ready, planning next year’s lessons and learning 30 new names.

But going back to school doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve put together some tips for teachers to help the new school year start as smoothly as possible.

If you have a limited budget, plan how you are going to spend it at the start of the new school year. Healthy yet cheap recipes include bread rolls with a seed based topping and vegetable soups which are perfect to make when the chilly winter weather sets in. We have lots of recipes on our website, including one for bread rolls –, so you don’t have to trawl through cook books.

Use your practical lessons to help teach your students about food safety. We’ve got some useful tips on A key point to explain, especially to younger children is to use a clean spoon when tasting food, and always wash it after every use rather than place it back into the bowl.

Want to inspire your class but not sure where to start? Why not take a look at our Inspire! winner’s ideas at They’ve got loads of great ideas from fairground themed schemes of work to growing your own corn and wheat to visits to windmills, modern mills and bakeries.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter to keep up to date with the latest news and to receive even more ideas and tips. Just search for GrainChain to find us. We’re also on facebook, where you can tell us your thoughts about the website and what you want to see more of.

To find out about exhibitions where you can meet the Grain Chain team and competitions that we are running, sign up online to receive the Grain Chain newsletter at

The whole country has gone sports mad!

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Whether you like tennis, cricket, horse racing or football, there’s a sport for everyone in June. This blog links food and fun to produce exciting lesson plans and ideas.

Plan a World Cup themed lesson

It seems like the whole world has gone football crazy, so why not treat your class to a food technology lesson with a world cup theme.

pic blog 21 june

You could use our breakfast poster, which you can get your hands on by emailing, to   teach children about the different breakfasts that are eaten around the world.

Explain that England Captain, Steven Gerrard and the lads, will most likely be eating a South African breakfast of porridge, cereal, eggs or fruit- perfect for giving them enough energy to take on the world!

England coach, Fabio Capello on the other hand may still favour his traditional Italian breakfast of coffee with milk and a bread roll with butter, jam or fruit marmalade.

If you are a food technology teacher looking for some fun practical ideas, why not cook popular flour or bread based meals that people like to eat in some of the World Cup countries? You could try creating an Italian pizza using our recipe for pizza dough which can be found at the following link Simply create a basic Margherita (cheese and tomato) pizza, chop some cherry tomatoes in half or use chopped red peppers instead and place onto the pizza in the shape of a cross to create the England Flag.

Alternatively you could make a Swiss fondu (a pot of melted cheese in which diners dip pieces of bread) or Mexican flour tortillas, which you could use to make fajitas. For something a bit more exotic, you could try baking Ghanaian gari biscuits or Slovenian potica (nut bread).

Wicked Wimbledon!

If football isn’t your thing, and you prefer something a bit more leisurely, then the Wimbledon Tennis Championships have just kicked off. It’s a typically British affair, where strawberries and cream, picnics with soggy cheese and tomato sandwiches, rain and of course, Cliff Richard, all come into the public eye again. So this fortnight, why not focus your food technology lessons around traditional English picnic food – soggy sandwiches not included!

Designing a sandwich using pre-sliced wrapped loaves makes a fun activity for younger children or alternatively, older children may enjoy the challenge of baking their own bread, then using that to make their sandwich recipe. Our “Super Sandwich” worksheet which is aimed at children aged five to seven, can be found by clicking the following link  Furthermore, it’s in a Microsoft Word format, which can be edited to suit the age and ability range of your class.

Did you know?

  • Sliced bread was first introduced into the UK in the 1930s.
  • Bread provides useful amounts of carbohydrates, B vitamins, protein and calcium. White flour is fortified with calcium, iron, thiamin and niacin. So despite some claims in the media, bread is really good for you – it’s the spreads and fillings which can increase the calories and fat content.

Inspire! competition winners

Monday, June 7th, 2010

And the Inspire! winners are…

We were really pleased with the quality of the entries that we received from entrants of our Inspire! competition. It was great to see so many inspiring entries in such a range of media and from across the whole of the UK including the Channel Islands. However, our finalists are…

  • Ralph Allen School in Bath (England)
  • Ysgol uwchradd caergybi in Holyhead (Wales)
  • Hitchin Girls School in Hertfordshire (England)
  • Braeview Academy in Dundee (Scotland)
  • St Louise’s Comprehensive College in Belfast (Northern Island)
  • Le Murier School in Guernsey (Channel Islands)

All are in with the chance of winning £1500 for their school. To find out who wins, be sure to come back to this page.

Join us on Twitter!

The Grain Chain is now on Twitter. Follow us at for even more news and daily updates.

We want to hear your thoughts about our website

What do you particularly like about our website? Is there anything that you think we could improve? What would you like to see more of? We want to hear your thoughts and ideas on our discussion forum at We’d also like to work more closely with teachers in the future. If you would like to take part in any workshops, focus groups or surveys then email us at

Food baffles children

A studtractory by the British Trust of Conservation Volunteers has shown that this generation of children do not know how their food grows or where their food comes from. Eight out of ten adults worry about how little children know about their food. It means that many children are growing up not knowing what is in the foods that they are eating- which is a shame as bread is not only really tasty but also really healthy and a great source of many different vitamins and minerals.

Under all of the age group sections on our website, we have resources including information sheets, videos and interactive whiteboard activities to teach children about how grain is grown and made into bread. We also have bread making recipes in our recipe section which you could use to create a follow up lesson:

The half term is nearly here…

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The upcoming break is the perfect time to plan your lessons for the new term but you don’t need to miss out on a social life to prepare them. Our ready-made lesson plans are split into age groups and focus on key areas of the curriculum. We even have interactive whiteboard activities and quizzes to help get your class involved. We also have ready-made worksheets in a Microsoft Word format – which means that you can change them to suit your the ability of your class. All of these resources can be found in the teachers’ section of our website,

Top Tip!

Be sure to check this section at the beginning of July, as we’ll be adding even more lesson plans which have been tried and tested by teachers across the UK.

Another worrying trend…

We have all heard about the worrying childhood obesity trends, which indicate that by 2015, one in ten children in the UK will be obese. But have you heard about the latest rise in  childgirl on scaleshood dieting and eating disorders? A survey of 32,000 ten to fifteen year olds by the Schools Health Education Unit revealed that teenage girls regularly skip up to two meals a  day with breakfast and lunch being the most commonly missed. Healthy eating at any age is important, but especially throughout the childhood and teenage years as young bodies are still developing. With this in mind, we have created an interactive podcast about healthy eating and the importance of eating a balanced diet for you to use in the classroom. You can find this by clicking on the following link

Join us on Facebook

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The Grain Chain is now on Facebook and we’d like you to join us

For even more updates, news, useful links and teaching ideas, join us at our Facebook page We’d also love to find out what you think of the Grain Chain website – you can post your comments or questions on our discussion forum and one of the Grain Chain team will get back to you. Feel free to send the link to your colleagues – with all the useful lesson plans and tips on the website we’re sure they’ll thank you for it!

School Farm Fair fun

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Did you come to the School Farm and Country Fair in Ipswich on Wednesday 21st April?

It was a great Anthony Kindred school farm fairday out for children and grown-ups alike with a wide variety of interesting displays and stands. There was no chance of going hungry as our young visitors learnt how to make bread rolls with the Grain Chain team and our master baker, Anthony Kindred. Our grain art stand, where children could make pictures using a variety of different grains, also proved popular with the schools who visited the fair.

If you didn’t get the chance to come, why not try our recipe for bread rolls which can be found by clicking here:

Bank holiday activities for children

The early spring bank holiday is only a week away and the weather looks set to be great so why not spend some time outdoors. Activities such as Frisbee or kwik cricket are great fun for all the family- why not pack a picnic and make a day of it?

Baking is also a fantastic way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Our recipe section on the website, has some great, easy to make, recipes ranging from tasty treats and cool snacks to brilliant breakfasts and yummy meals. Why not try them out?

Short of cash? Did you know that many museums and art galleries in London are free? If on the other hand you fancy something a bit more lively, there are loads of vouchers about for theme parks and other attractions. An internet search for vouchers should do the trick. Make sure you take a healthy packed lunch with you to avoid the expensive, shop bought options.

You now have even longer to submit your Inspire! Entries

We’ve extended the deadline for entries to 5 May, so you now have even longer to perfect your lesson plans and send them to us for your chance to win £1500 for your school. See for more information.

Only nine days left to enter our competition and win £1500!

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Don’t miss the chance to win £1500 for your school

You have just nine days to enter our Inspire! Competition for a chance to win £1500 for your school! Entries need to be received no later than 20 April. The winner and five finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony and BBQ lunch at Kensington Roof Gardens in London on 25 June where celebrity baker Paul Hollywood will be giving a baking demonstration so you could learn from one of the best! Take a look on to find out more and download an entry form.

Are you going to the School Farm and Country Fair?

It’s the 10th anniversary of the School Farm and Country Fair, which is taking place on 21 April at Trinity Park, Ipswich. Since it began in 2001, more than 40,000 7–9 year olds have enjoyed getting their hands dirty and learning about where their food comes from. The Grain Chain will be there on the day doing a baking demonstration where children can get involved and make bread rolls with us. Children will also be able to make grain art. To find out more visit We hope to see you there!

St George’s Day is on Friday 23 April

St George is the Patron Saint of England. He is believed to have been born in A.D. 270 in Cappadocia, which is now known as Eastern Turkey. At the age of 17 he joined the Roman army, where he was known for his bravery. Although he served under a pagan emperor, he never forgot his Christian faith and when the emperor began persecuting Christians, he pleaded with him to stop. The emperor ignored his pleas and it is thought that St George was tortured before being beheaded in Palestine on 23 April A.D. 303.

Did you know…?

  • That St George is also the patron saint of several different countries including Ethiopia, Albania, Greece, Portugal and Russia as well as cities including Beirut, Genoa and Moscow. St Georges Day was a major feast and national holiday in England from the 15th century which was oRoast beef and yorkshire pudn a par with Christmas. However this tradition stopped in the 18th century.

Super suggestion…

Why not celebrate by creating your own feast? You could cook traditional English food such as roast beef and Yorkshire puddings or steak and kidney pie.

Happy Easter from

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Have you entered our Inspire! competition?

You’ve only got a couple of weeks left to enter our competition to win £1500 for your school. It’s simple to enter – all you have to do is submit an inspiring lesson plan based around cooking with flour. Take a look on to find out more and download an entry form.

It’s Easter!

We all know and love hot cross buns but what is the history and tradition behind them?

hot_cross buns

Some people used to believe that a hot cross bun eaten on Good Friday (the day that Jesus was crucified) would protect their homes from fire. Some Christians believe that the cross on the top of the bun represents the cross that Jesus died on.

Did you know…?

Every year on Good Friday, a hot cross bun ceremony takes place at The Widow’s Son pub in London. A Royal Navy sailor hangs a bun from one of the old wooden beams. A religious service then takes place which is followed by singing and drinking. But why do they do this? The story is that a widow and her only son who was a sailor in the Navy lived in a cottage on the site of the pub. He was due to return home on Good Friday (said to be in 1824) and had asked his mother to bake him some hot cross buns. Sadly he never returned.

But every Good Friday from then on, his mother had a new bun waiting for him. She kept all of the buns from previous years and when she died, the buns were found hanging from a beam in her cottage.