Shelly Lyons
Apple     This is Shelly ’Klingensmith’ Glennon. Shelly teaches fourth grade at Tularcitos Elementary School in Carmel Valley, California. Leslie volunteered in Shelly's first grade classroom for 14 years.

All of this exposure to the first-grade classroom has had a lasting effect on Leslie’s books, not just providing a setting but also making the books very curriculum friendly. Albert’s Field Trip was a direct result of a class field trip. Ms. Klingensmith (Shelly) can be seen (in her Pleasant Valley/rabbit persona) working with the first-graders in Albert’s Birthday. Shelly created these materials and used them in her classroom with great success.

Making Corn Tortillas
Fourth Grade History Comes to Life

By Shelly Lyon

As a teacher in California I am teaching California history to my fourth graders. This necessarily includes a lot of Spanish history. Since Spanish influences are in evidence in many parts of our country I thought I could share one of my sure-fire ways to make history come alive: BY EATING! I like to make tortillas as a part of my history lesson. I thought that lots of you might like this recipe that I use with my class. It's from

This is the real thing! A simple mixture of masa harina and water results in the most wonderful corn tortillas you ever tasted. The secret is to use a cast iron pan! You can buy masa harina at Mexican grocery stores or in the ethnic food aisle of large supermarkets. We have on occasion actually ground dehydrated corn on stone grinding boards. I don't recommend the results of that exercise for ingestion, however. Too much of the corn winds up on the ground and too many stone bits show up in the meal. But purchasing a bag of masa harina is a great investment that will touch your student's lives with a taste of our country's heritage.

Corn Tortillas

7 cups masa harina

4-1/2 cups water


1. In a medium bowl, mix together masa harina and hot water until thoroughly combined. Turn dough onto a clean surface and knead until pliable and smooth. If dough is too sticky, add more masa harina; if it begins to dry out, sprinkle with water. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle to medium-high.

3. Divide dough into 20 equal-size balls. Using a tortilla press, a rolling pin, or your hands, press each ball of dough flat between two sheets of plastic wrap.

4. Immediately place tortilla in preheated pan and allow to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy. Turn tortilla over to brown on second side for approximately 30 seconds more, then transfer to a plate. Repeat process with each ball of dough. Keep tortillas covered with a towel to stay warm and moist until ready to serve.

This recipe has been scaled to yield 20 servings.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Ready in: 1 Hour 5 Minutes