Grinding corn in Swaziland

Author: Amanda Morgan

Grade level: Early Elementary


1. Students will participate in grinding corn, a major part of food preparation in rural Swaziland.

Materials Needed:

1. Learning to Swim in Swaziland A child's-eye view of a southern African country. by: Nila Leigh

2. Dehydrated corn kernels (can be purchased in a pet store or a grain mill).

3. Three large, flat rocks that are clean.

4. Three medium, round rocks that are clean

5. Three large pans to place rocks in to catch the corn meal.

6. Rural Swaziland as Nila Leigh knows it (background information)


1. Introduce unit in the following way: "Where did everybody learn how to swim?" When class has participated, say, "Well, this is how Nila Leigh learned how to swim in Africa." Find Africa and Swaziland on map so children know where story is located.

2. Read the story to the class.

3. Following the story, have a discussion on the book. Possible questions that may be addressed: What are some differences you notice in Nila's life in Africa? Are the schools the same or different in rural Africa as they are in the United States? How are they the same, and how are they different?

4. Activity: As a class, we will have the opportunity to experience a necessity in the rural Swaziland culture. Demonstrate placing kernels of corn on a long, flat rock and striking the kernels with the rounded rock. Explain this is how corn is made into corn meal (or mealie as Nila refers to it). Review that corn is a major food source.

5. Have three stations throughout room. Divide the students into three groups, so each student receives the opportunity to participate in making corn meal. Walk around room and observe students. While observing, discuss with each group. Possible comments or questions you can address: Is this a difficult task to do? How would you like this to be your chore before coming to school everyday? Is this tiring? Does this corn meal look different than the corn meal we buy in the stores? How is it different?

6. Create corn bread from the corn meal the class helped to create. Substitute the fine corn meal in the recipe for the handmade corn meal. Possible recipe to use:

Corn Bread Recipe

Add: 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cup flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/8 tsp. salt,

1 1/2 cup corn meal, 1 cup milk.

Let sit for five minutes and bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

7. After the corn bread is created, eat and enjoy.


1. Observe participation in activity.

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