Humanity on Earth: Food and Farming

There are three books on the theme of Humanity on Earth. All three books employ a “hands-on” experiential approach with many activities supporting the content. We could reduce the overall conception of these three books to the basic necessities of living: food, shelter, and clothing.

The first book on shelters and dwellings, provides the third-grade student with a picture of some of the varied cultures of humanity across the earth from the point of view of the dwellings they build, and how the people draw upon the materials available from the local environment. The intent is to give the student an imaginative picture of the varied geographical terrains of the earth, the cultures that arise and the dwellings that are created. It also explores animal houses and grand dwellings: temple, pyramid and ziggurat. In this way, it is a cultural sociological geographical study as well as integrating the science of materials and the physics of construction.

Similarly, the second book on farming and humanity’s foods also takes the wide view of soils of the earth and how the human being has integrated into varied environments across the globe as a tiller of the earth rather than a hunter/gatherer. However, since the literary theme of the year are the stories from Hebrew and Mesopotamian sources, the book begins with foods and practices and the very simple diets that characterize the cultures that began in the Fertile Crescent. Yet it is also a science study of soils and the symbiotic relationship between man and animal.

This third book focuses on the natural materials from which the varied cultures of the earth have created the first clothing. Thus, it is also a science of materials from both plant and animal sources.



Rice loves the water. We would not expect to find it growing in hot and dry areas like millet. Rather, rice is found in places where there is a lot of rain and warmth. In some places where rice is grown, the rains come at a certain time of the year and pour day and night without stopping sometimes for several weeks. There is always danger of floods at this time. When we were learning about houses, we studied about some people who build their houses on stilts or at least build the house to stand several feet higher than the ground. Sometimes houses like that are built where great rains fall once a year. That is one of the places on the earth where rice is grown.

When it is time to plant rice, the farmer will level a field before the planting, and surround it with a dike or levee made from mud and soil. Then the field will be flooded with water. The water does not run away but stays inside the walls of mud. So, the rice is planted in what looks like a shallow pond called a rice paddy. The water does tend to seep away day by day, and the farmer knows that the rice will only grow if the paddy is kept wet, so he builds a canal that will let some water from a nearby stream enter the paddy. Often one can find a very elaborate system of canals moving water from one field to the next where many farmers work together. One of the most beautiful sights in the world is a rice field on a hillside. The farmers have made an entire little mountain into a series of leveled terraces, so that the whole mountain becomes a great sculpture of level steps or terraces that conform to every bent and twist of the mountain’s natural water drainage. Then if any water escapes from the top terrace, it flows right into the one below. In some places, there are hundreds of levels of these terraces of rice paddies.

With an opening like that above, the teacher can then go on to describe the harvest, how the grain is gathered into bundles and left to dry. Then describe how it is threshed and winnowed. Often in the winnowing process, the rice is gathered into a large basket and poured out while the wind is blowing. Then tell of the people’s daily food. In some places such as India, the bowl of rice is the primary meal for the day. Such a presentation would constitute the main lesson for the day followed by review and written work from the previous day’s lesson.

Terraced Rice Farming


Section I: General Indications

  • Main Lessons & Written Work
  • Ideas for Painting and Drawing
  • Illustrations and Depictions

Section II: Lesson Presentations

  • The Grains & Story Example
  • The Story of Wheat
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Corn
  • The Three Sisters
  • Oats & Rye
  • The Olive
  • Ancient Foods
  • Bread
  • The Farm
  • Soils, Compost, and Manure
  • Farm Animals & the Importance of the Cow

Section III: Practical Activities in Farming, Gardening & Cooking

  • Making Butter & Cheese
  • The Garden
  • The Three Sisters
  • Composting
  • Learning to Use Shovel, Hoe, and Pitchfork
  • Sprouting Seeds and a Gourd Bowl
  • Traditional Middle Eastern & Jewish Recipes
  • Baking Bread / Middle Eastern Pocket Bread
  • Challah
  • Maraqa: Middle Eastern Spiced Broth
  • Latkes
  • Ruz eb Maya: Chickpeas & Rice / Tanina Sauce
  • Kugel / Cheese Blinzes
  • Matza Ball with Chicken Soup