Paula Gray stared at the bowl on the table and proclaimed, "It's alive!" to the McVay Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders seated in front of her.

Paula Gray stared at the bowl on the table and proclaimed, "It's alive!" to the McVay Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders seated in front of her.

Gray wasn't rehearsing for some ghoulish Halloween movie. She was merely describing what happens when water, sugar and yeast are mixed together in the first steps of making bread.

Gray is an instructor for The King Arthur Flour Co.'s Life Skills Bread Baking Program. On Oct. 22, she was at McVay and Huber Ridge Elementary School, where she taught fourth- and fifth-graders how to make bread.

At McVay, she and fourth-grader Claire Wetta and fifth-grader Aerianna Booker demonstrated the process step-by-step, using a tabletop camera to project their efforts onto a screen so students could see what they were doing.

Booker turned her nose up and pronounced the water, yeast and sugar concoction "stinky," when Gray asked her to describe it.

"If bread starts out stinky and brown, that's good," Gray said.

When the trio finished making the dough and it was set aside to rest, Gray pulled out a bowl of dough that students at Huber Ridge had made earlier in the morning and showed the McVay students different ways of forming the dough into loaves.

At the end of the assembly, each student received a recipe booklet, a two-pound bag of white whole wheat flour and a bag of unbleached all-purpose flour, a packet of yeast, a dough scraper and a plastic bread bag. At home that night, they made enough dough for two loaves of bread, baked the loaves and shared one with their family.

They brought the second loaves back to school the next day to be delivered by a small group of students from both schools to Faith Mission in Columbus and Boy Scout Troop 471 in Westerville.

Her students have participated in service learning projects for several years, said Lori Malicoate, a fourth-grade teacher at McVay. When a colleague shared a letter describing the bread-making program of the Norwich, Vt., flour company, she was impressed.

"It seemed like a more authentic service learning project than others we've done in the past," Malicoate said. "This is the kids physically making something and sharing it with someone else."

The day after they made the bread, students were asked to share their experience with their class.

"I learned that yeast is a living organism. I think the dough smells good," said Brooke Graham.

"I thought it smelled bad at first. I had fun kneading the dough," said Justin Butterfield.

"I liked when the bread was baking because it smelled so good," said Addie Miller

Abby Jeffries said she made her bread with her grandmother, who told her, "This reminds me of when I baked bread with your mom."

The King Arthur Flour Life Skills Bread Baking Program visits schools across the country. In the past decade, it has taught more than 85,000 schoolchildren how to bake bread, said Allison Furbish, media relations manager for King Arthur Flour. This year, they are incorporating whole grains into the demonstration, teaching kids what whole grains are, why they're important in a healthy diet and how to use them in everyday baking, she said.

Gray said she loves "teaching children the skill of bread-baking -- a hands-on way for kids to learn math, science, and cultural traditions all while having fun."

"I hope the kids go home and enjoy making the bread," Malicoate said. "Then when we come back (from Faith Mission), we will share the pictures we take. Hopefully, a little seed will start growing in them that they can make a difference and help others.

"Our philosophy is more one of offering them the opportunity and letting them and their parents take it from there," she said.

cpreston@thisweeknews.com