A friend who teaches fourth- to sixth-graders completed a unit on food and world hunger this spring, giving her students a grounding in the fundamentals of good nutrition -- a traditional undertaking at that age -- and also introducing them to the tragically pervasive nutritional problem in today's world, starvation.

Drawing heavily on Laurie Rubin's excellent "Food First Curriculum" (published by the Institute for Food and Development Policy, 1885 Mission St., San Francisco, Calif. 94103-3584), she walked her students through a series of scenarios designed to make the daily lives of their Third World counterparts more comprehensible.

And they didn't just talk about the complementary grain-and-bean dishes that are the staples in most of the world; they prepared and ate pita bread and baked falafel, tortillas and beans, tofu and brown rice. They also visited a place in town where 75 to 100 people get a free hot lunch every day, bringing whole-grain bread they had baked that morning. Here is what they baked. POCKET BREADS (Makes about 2 dozen)

Strong heat from below is the secret of puffy pockets. If you have a gas oven, bake them directly on the oven floor or on a cookie sheet placed there. If your oven is electric and the top element snaps out for cleaning, snap it out. Otherwise, shield the baking pockets from top heat by placing a cookie sheet on the very top rack under the top element, and bake the pocket breads on the lowest rack on a cookie sheet).

2 teapoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

6 cups whole wheat bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup sesame oil

2 1/2 cups water

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

Mix the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Dissolve honey and sesame oil in 2 1/2 cups water, combine with dissolved yeast, and pour mixture into the well in the flour, stirring from the center outward to make a smooth batter. Fold in the flour from the sides of the bowl and mix thoroughly. The dough should be rather soft; add a bit more water or flour if needed to get it there. Knead thoroughly.

Form the dough into a ball and place smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place.

After about an hour-and-a-half, gently poke the center of the dough 1/2-inch deep with a wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill in at all or if the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step. Press flat, form into a smooth round, and let the dough rise again as before. This rising will take about half as long as the first.

Turn out the risen dough and press flat on the board. Divide into 20 to 24 pieces and shape into smooth rounds. Let them rest 10 minutes or so until they are quite soft. Protect them from drafts to keep the surface of the dough from drying out. This is essential.

Use as much flour on the board as you need to keep dough from sticking. Roll about 5 of the rounds into flat circles as thick as a heavy wool blanket and about 6 inches across. Place on floor of a 450-degree oven or on cookie sheet (see above) and close the door.

Start rolling out the next 5, but check the oven in 3 minutes. The breads should have puffed by then, and may be a little brown on the bottom. If so, open one. The inside should be moist, but not shiny-wet. You can bake them a little bit more on the top rack while the next batch bakes below, but don't let them get crisp or brown or they will break when filled.

From here on out, work as efficiently as you can. It's tricky to prevent the breaks from burning. BAKED FALAFEL (Makes about 24)

3 cups well-cooked garbanzo beans

1 medium potato

1 large bunch parsley or coriander

1 large onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons oil plus extra for baking sheets

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Dash cayenne

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mash garbanzos or grind in meat grinder. Quarter potato and steam. Remove peel and mash. Mince leaves of parsley.

Saute' onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in parsley and cook briefly. Grind sesame seeds in blender and add to ground beans along with potatoes, saute'ed onion, salt, cayenne, pepper, paprika, and lemon juice.

Form into balls, using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. garbanzos or grind in meat grinder. Quarter potato and steam. Remove peel and mash. Mince leaves of parsley.

Saute' onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in parsley and cook briefly. Grind sesame seeds in blender and add to ground beans along with potatoes, saute'ed onion, salt, cayenne, pepper, paprika, and lemon juice.

Form into balls, using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.