Pancakes....mmmmmm my favorite!

A Pancake Curriculum!

by: Diane Flynn Keith

Did you know that Tuesday, March 8st, 2011 is Pancake Day? It kicks off Pancake Week throughout the world! Pancakes provide all of the ingredients necessary for lots of learning fun!

Pancake Day is also known as "Shrove Tuesday" among Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and other faiths. The origin of the name "Shrove" comes from the old English verb "to shrive" which means to absolve people of their sins.

It is common for priests to hear people's confessions on Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days of penance, prayer, and fasting that precedes Easter. Traditionally, people abstained from eating eggs and fats during Lent, and pancakes were the perfect way of using up those ingredients before Lent began. Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is also known as "Mardi Gras" which is French for "Fat Tuesday."

Here are some fun and educational ideas for celebrating Pancake Day!

Pancake Literature

Pancakes are not only a popular food staple in the United States -- almost every culture in the world has some form of traditional pan cake or pan bread that is an important part of their diet. There are children's picture and story books about them too! Here are some titles to look for at your local library:

P is for Pancake

Lessons in Writing, Math, & Science!

After reading some books about pancakes, make up a batch of pancake batter -- it's a fun, educational, and edible activity you can use to teach your child about making letters while improving motor skills needed for writing letters and words. Holding a spoon to measure or mix is similar to holding a pen or pencil.

Find a suitable work space -- preferably a low table (not a high countertop)-- where your child can easily measure and mix batter. Get out all of the measuring spoons, cups, and materials you will need in advance, and then show your child how to measure the ingredients to make pancake batter. While measuring, make comparisons between one cup and 1/4 cup, or estimate how much a teaspoon is -- and then measure it to see if you guessed correctly. Invite your child to feel, smell, and taste the individual ingredients -- like flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, etc. Examining the various colors and textures teaches useful science skills. Count and add as you put the appropriate number of tablespoons or cups in the batter. These activities develop the foundation necessary to learn more complex math skills.

Depending on the age and motor skills of your child, once your batter is mixed, fill a clean squirt bottle with pancake mix. Show your child how to squirt out a letter P onto the skillet or griddle -- or let them watch while you do it. Did you forget how to make the letter "P"? Now is a good time to refer to those ABC magnets on the refrigerator door! They provide great visual reminders when your child wants to make a P-shaped pancake. Cook the P-pancake according to your recipe's directions.

Note: If you don't have a squirt bottle - use a clean turkey baster to make pancake batter letters, numbers, and designs.

Want more letter-writing practice? Write on your pancakes! Use food-color decorating pens available in craft stores such as Michaels. The markers are filled with edible ink in a variety of colors. Your child can write letters, numbers, or make colorful designs on his or her pancakes -- and then, gobble them up!

Pancake Geography

Pancakes or flat breads are part of the cuisine of many countries around the world. Why not try different kinds of pancakes? I've provided links to recipes below. As you try different variations, be sure to show your child where the country of origin is located on a world globe or map.

Get our popular eBooks designed to instill
a life-long love of learning! They include:

Learning with Little Lulu Lemon — This exciting eBook includes over 25 fun, hands-on activities and recipes themed around the versatile lemon that the whole family will enjoy.


Universal Preschool's Learning Calendar! — Enjoy over 190 fun, historic, and event-themed activities for learning with little ones all year long.

These eBooks will save you time and money and give your children a head start on early learning in a fun, playful, and developmentally appropriate way.

Click HERE to Order or Learn More!

Flipping Flapjacks

Now here's a fun activity to try. Make a batch of small 3-4" diameter pancakes. Give your child a clean, cold skillet (or a lightweight aluminum pie pan) and invite them to try flipping the pancake. Demonstrate how to do it. This takes some coordination. If your child doesn't yet have the dexterity to flip the cake, then just see how high he/she can toss it in the air and catch it in the skillet or pan.

Fun Flapjack Fact: Did you know that a German named Ralf Laue holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the Fastest Pancake Tosser in the world! He flipped one flapjack 416 times in two minutes! What's your personal best?

Pancake Race

Since 1445, the town of Olney, England has held annual pancake races. Legend has it that on Shrove Tuesday, a townswoman was so busy making pancakes, that she was caught off guard when the church bells rang summoning the parish for the shriving service. She raced to the church in her apron with her skillet and pancake still in hand. Ever since then, the women of Olney don aprons and conduct a race through the streets carrying skillets and tossing pancakes as they go! The winner is the first to cross the finish line having tossed the pancake a certain number of times. In 1950, the Olney race was extended to the town of Liberal in the state of Kansas -- where pancake tossing is a serious pastime.

Have your own family pancake race! Put a pancake in a cold skillet, hand it to a family member and tell him/her to run fast to a certain distant object, then, turn around and run back. Careful! Don't drop the skillet or the pancake. Use a stop-watch to see how fast they went. Record their time this year -- and compare it with their time next year.

Pancake Party

Make a batch of pancakes and set out small bowls of toppings to taste and try. Let your kids get creative with toppings for their pancakes. Some ideas for toppings include:

Don't forget the butter! Your kids can make their own. Check out our easy-to-do recipe.

If you think you can't have pancakes because you have allergies to dairy, think again! Don't let allergies get you down, now you can enjoy tasty Dairy-Free Pancakes, Crepes, Waffles & French Toast with these terrific recipes.

More Pancake Fun

Free Pancakes!

In celebration of Pancake Day, the International House of Pancakes offers guests a free short stack of pancakes from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. while supplies last. (They do ask you to consider making a small donation to the Children's Miracle Network.) Visit the IHOP website for details and to find an IHOP near you.

Enjoy Pancake Day and give your little ones a hug for me,
Diane Flynn Keith
for Unpreschool

Updated January 26, 2011