Made from a variety of ingredients that could include moss, lichen, ground plant bulbs, nut meal, cornmeal and cattail pollen, fry bread (also called bannock bread) has been a staple food among some Indigenous peoples of North America for generations. The story and history behind fry bread holds deep cultural significance for many Native families. In honor of Indigenous People’s Day on October 10th, we share a recipe for one version of fry bread that kids can help make over a campfire or at home.
This activity is featured in our October Activity Calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here.
Get inspiration from a story:
We love the book Fry Bread: A Native American Family Storyby Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole), and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, depicting a modern family making, enjoying, and remembering the rich history of this traditional food and the importance it holds in the community. Read the book together or watch the author’s video read aloud here.
Learn about the native people or peoples who are indigenous to the land where you live. You can try using an app like https://native-land.ca/ to enter your zip code and find out which Indigenous People live, or historically lived, in your area. You can let kids know that "We live on the ancestral home of" whichever people or peoples you discover. If you don't know about those native to your area, do some online searches to find out more about the specific peoples. Learn about where the names of local rivers, valleys or other land features came from and what they mean. Read more here about how your family can include native history in your outdoor adventures.
Make fry bread:
Fry bread can be made on the stove or over a campfire. Read here for tips on how to safely enjoy campfires with kids.
Step 1: Gather ingredients
For this recipe, you’ll need:
2.5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. oil
1 cup water
Stick (if roasting over a campfire)
Step 2: Make the dough
Mix the dry ingredients, then add your wet ingredients. Knead the dough and continue adding a bit of water at a time until it forms a dough that does not stick to the hands. Kids will enjoy helping with measuring, mixing and kneading the dough, too!
Campfire Tip: If cooking at the campsite, mix the dry ingredients ahead of time and store in a container or resealable bag. When ready to cook at your campsite, add the oil and a bit of water and mix together.
Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Mold the dough
Divide the dough into 6 portions.
If cooking at home: Form each section into a ball, then use the palm of your hand to lightly press down to flatten.
If cooking over a campfire: Use the palm of your hand to roll each portion out into a long worm or shape. Then, wrap the dough around a stick.
Step 4: Cook the dough
If cooking at home: Place dough in afrying pan with a bit of oil or butter, flipping it to cook both sides until the dough is golden brown and cooked through.
If cooking over a campfire: Roast the dough over the fire, turning frequently, until the fry bread is cooked through and brown.
This delicious recipe can be enjoyed on its own, or sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar.
Why is this activity great for kids?
Cooking with kids is a super way for kids to celebrate their own cooking traditions or learn about others. Sharing this book and activity helps kids stay curious and learn about the stories and history of the people native to the land on which they live. While cooking, every sense—even taste (hurrah!)—gets stimulated and engaged, turning on kids’ brains! Kids also have a chance to explore science concepts as they measure, mix and cook their food as well as seeing food appearance, texture and taste transform when it’s heated.
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Curiosity means the ability and habit to apply a sense of wonder and a desire to learn more. Curious people try new things, ask questions, search for answers, relish new information, and make connections, all while actively experiencing and making sense of the world. To us, curiosity is a child’s ticket to engaging fully in learning and, ultimately, in life.
Why does it matter?
As a parent, this skill is, perhaps, the easiest to grasp and has the clearest connection to a young children’s learning. We all want my children to wonder, explore and drive their own learning and, better yet, to experience the world fully. Most teachers would agree that the curious children so often seem more attentive, involved and naturally get the most out of time in school. Even the research suggests that being curious is a driver of higher performance throughout one's life, as much if not more than IQ or test scores.
What is Sensory Development?
Although some scientists classify as many as 20 senses, when childhood educators talk about "developing the senses," we typically mean developing the five standard senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. In addition to honing these senses, educators care about sensory integration, which is the ability to take in, sort out, process and make use of information gathered from the world around us via the senses.
Why does it matter?
The better kids are able to tune and integrate their senses, the more they can learn. First, if their senses are sharper, the information kids can gather should be of greater quantity and quality, making their understanding of the world more sophisticated. Further, until the lower levels of the brain can efficiently and accurately sort out information gathered through the senses, the higher levels cannot begin to develop thinking and organization skills kids need to succeed. Senses also have a powerful connection to memory. Children (and adults) often retain new learning when the senses are an active part of the learning.
So, if kids have more sensory experiences, they will learn more, retain better and be better able to think at a higher level. Makes the days they get all wet and dirty in the sandbox seem better, doesn't it?