We love sharing information and teaching children about the traditions and facts around days of significance as we know that they are naturally fascinated with things that have happened in the past.
The challenge we come across when planning for these days, particularly those that come with heavy historical tones and information, is the balance of remaining respectful while offering age-appropriate informative as we come together to celebrate and commemorate.
Immersing children in community and cultural experiences helps to create meaning and broadens their understanding of their world.
ANZAC Day is one of the many days that support children to understand the life and times of Australia and its people. The ceremony and traditions are such an integral part of Australia’s cultural diversity.
For me ANZAC Day reflects on the sacrifices that our Australian and New Zealand men and woman made for us to bring peace to our countries so that we can live freely the way that we do today.
It is a great opportunity to talk with the children about mateship and courage and how we take care for each other.
For me, this year my focus will be around the food that our ANZAC’s were supplied with.
Great conversations always happen naturally when food is involved, and my main focus for intentional teaching opportunities will be the ANZAC Biscuit – making:
traditional Hard Tack
ANZAC biscuit that we know today
Playdough is not unlike hard tack so adding the ingredients like oats and golden syrup into our playdough zone will give the playdough a sticky textured feel with an amazing smell.
Learning though hands-on sensory experiences and hearing about real-life experiences about ANZAC Day can support us to incorporate the importance behind this extremely significant day. During these experiences children will be empowered to ask the questions and guide their own learning gently to the information that they are ready to hear.
The opportunities here for intentional teaching and follow ups are endless and can remain age appropriate based on the small group discussions that you have each time.
How do you think that food was supplied for many thousands of men and woman with no refrigeration?
What do you think they ate?
How are the recipes different?
How do the 2 biscuits taste different?
Would you like to plan a follow up experience for a meal and only eat tinned corned beef, rice, jam, and cocoa and make sure we do not eat or drink anything that the soldiers would not have had?
Writing letters to loved ones with the original ‘hard tack’ version of the biscuit.
The original Anzac biscuit was a savory version, known as the Anzac tile or wafer, that was first given to the soldiers as rations during World War I. It also had a very long shelf life unlike bread.
Due to food shortages at the time, eggs were not readily available, so butter, treacle (aka, golden syrup) and baking soda were used. This resulted in a hard biscuit that was very tough to eat, although it could be kept for months at a time without spoiling. According to the Australian War Memorial, the soldiers would get creative in coming up with ways to make the wafers more palatable – be it adding water to grated biscuits to create a porridge or spreading them with jam. Sometimes, they were used for other purposes entirely. E.g. for drawing and painting on or as cards to send to family and friends back home. It was not until the 1920s that a far sweeter recipe – the one we know and love today - first started appearing cookbooks.
I hope that you enjoy the recipes and planning.
Hard Tack Recipe
1½ cups self-raising white flour
3 cups self-raising wholemeal flour
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons milk powder
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 180C
Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.
Make a well in the centre and add the water. Mix together until an even dough is formed.
Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for a few minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest for half an hour.
Divide the dough into three and then roll each ball into thick 1cm sheets.
Cut the rolled sheet of dough into 9 cm squares, using the edge of a steel ruler, rather than a knife. This pressing action helps to join the top and bottom surfaces of the biscuit and will improve the "lift" in baking.
Now make a regular pattern of holes in each biscuit, five holes across by five holes down (25 holes in all). The ideal tool to use to make these holes is a cotton bud with the cotton wool cut off or the thick end of a bamboo skewer. Push it through to the bench, twist slightly and withdraw. (Some historians claim that each biscuit had 49 holes.)
Place on a slightly greased baking tray, being careful that the biscuits are not touching. Form a wall around the outside edge with scrap dough. This will stop the outside edges of the biscuits from burning.
Bake on the centre shelf for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn them!
Leave the biscuits on a cooling rack until they harden. Or switch off the oven and return the biscuits to the oven until it becomes cool.
ANZAC Biscuit Recipe
125grams butter – chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Stir butter and syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in combined soda and the water, then remaining ingredients.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls; place 5cm (2in) apart on lined trays, then flatten slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on trays.