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Making Pancakes With Young Children

Cover Communication & Language, Physical Development & Mathematics milestones in this classic cooking activity of preparing pancakes! Perfect for Shrove Tuesday

What you will need:

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 400ml Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil, plus extra for frying
  • Pinch of salt
  • Selection of healthy toppings
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Digital kitchen scales
  • Measuring jug
  • A frying pan or crepe pan
  • Wooden spoon, ladle, spatula & whisk
  • Access to a hob, or consider a plug in single hob

Preparing the activity

The idea of cooking with children is for them to be involved in the cooking! That said, there are some important preparations which will help to make sure that this activity remains safe, both in terms of the actual cooking, and the safety of the food you prepare.

Baking some strange bread
Photographer: Calum Lewis | Source: Unsplash

It is vital that you are able to properly supervise each child involved in the cooking at all times once you start the activity, so think carefully about how large a group you can handle. 2 -3 younger children at a time is probably sensible, but you may be able to work with 5 or 6 preschool aged children, especially if you're confident in the process of making the pancakes. It is a good idea to gather all of the ingredients and equipment together and set them out on a table in an engaging way - don't pre-weigh them though since this is a great learning opportunity.

A quick note on how and where to do the cooking. As a general rule, it isn't appropriate for children to be in the kitchen of a childcare setting, unless you're a childminder working at home. This can mean that it can be hard for children to be involved in the actual cooking of the pancakes. A good way around this is to purchase an inexpensive, plug-in electric hob. This allows you to cook the pancakes with the children at their level. Obviously, you must be very careful to ensure that the hot hob is secure, and an adventurous toddler can't stroll up and stick their hand on it!  If you are doing a lot of cooking with children, it is really sensible to invest in an individual induction hob and suitable pans. These hobs do not get hot to the touch, and only "induct" heat into pans designed to work with them which makes them really good around little ones.

Doing the activity:

  1. As with all cooking, first job is to wash hands! Try to make this more than a chore, and get the children thinking about why it's important.
  2. Start the mixture by weighing out the 200g of plain flour into the large bowl, and add the pinch of salt. Use the wooden spoon to make a well in the centre. If you're working with a group of older children, consider having each child weigh out 50g of flour and then talk about how adding all of them together gets to the 200g in total.
  3. Measure out the 400ml of milk into the jug, and crack in the eggs. Give the jug a quick whisk to break the egg up. This is a good opportunity to encourage language like "more" and "less" when comparing how much milk is in the jug compared to the bottle.
  1. Carefully pour the milk and eggs into the flour, and give everything a good whisk until you have a smooth batter. Add the 1tbsp of vegetable oil and whisk again. Sharing out the whisking is a perfect chance for everyone to take turns and share the equipment.
  2. Dip some kitchen paper in some vegetable oil and wipe the cold frying pan with it. It is important to talk to the children about the difference between who can touch a hot pan and a cold pan.
  3. If you can do so safely, heat the frying pan over a medium heat for about a minute (you don't want it to be so hot it's smoking). If the children are not able to access a stove, you can still continue with the process and simply imagine what will happen when they are actually cooked.
  4. Add between a half and two-thirds of a ladleful of your batter to the pan, and immediately start swirling it around so that the whole bottom of the pan is covered. A good safety technique at this stage can be to have everyone's hands under the table, apart from the one child at a time who is helping you hold the pan.
  5. Cook the pancake for around 30 seconds until you see bubbles forming underneath, then use the spatula to flip it over. You can try flipping the pancake in the pan; jiggle the pan to make sure the whole pancake is loose, then tilt the pan away from you to slide the pancake to one end before flicking back to a level position - the pancake "should" flip over!
Photographer: Fa Barboza | Source: Unsplash
  1. After another 30 seconds of cooking on the other side, slide the pancake out of the pan onto a plate. You can then carefully wipe the hot pan with more oil and start the next one. Place a sheet of kitchen paper in between each paper, and keep them warm in a low oven if you want to serve them all warm together.
  2. Serve the pancakes straight away with toppings you/the children choose

Tracking the activity

16 - 26 months

Communication & Langauge, Understanding; "Understands simple sentences (eg. 'Throw the ball')"

22 - 36 months

Communication & Language, Understanding; "Understands more complex sentences, e.g. ‘Put your toys away and then we’ll read a book.’"

Communication & Language, Understanding; "Developing understanding of simple concepts (e.g. big/little)"

Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Shows control in holding and using jugs to pour, hammers, books and mark-making tools."

30 - 50 months

Communication & Language, Understanding; "Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’)"

Communication & Language, Understanding; "Shows understanding of prepositions such as ‘under’, ‘on top’, ‘behind’ by carrying out an action or selecting correctpicture."

Mathematics, Numbers; "Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions"

Mathematics, Numbers; "Shows an interest in numerals in the environment."

40 - 60+ months

Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control."

Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Shows a preference for a dominant hand."

Mathematics, Numbers; "Uses the language of ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects."

Mathematics, Numbers; "In practical activities and discussion, beginning to use the vocabulary involved in adding and subtracting"