Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the perfect day to get creative with the children through messy experimentation. In addition to making pancakes, there are many Shrove Tuesday activities. After all, who doesn’t love pancakes and fun activities?
Why do we celebrate Pancake Day in early years?
Pancake Day is an excellent topic for young children. By implementing Pancake Day-related resources and activities, you will support children in a wide range of EYFS learning areas and promote language and communication development.
How did Pancake Day start?
Pancake Day was originally a Pagan tradition. Before Christianity, the Slavs believed that seasons changed because of a battle between Jarylo – the god of vegetation, fertility and spring – and the spirits of cold and darkness. The arrival of spring was therefore celebrated and lasted a whole week. The festivities centred around making and eating pancakes.
The shape of the pancake reflected the sun. The sun was very important for the Slavs. Therefore, eating pancakes was a way for the Slavs to get the sun’s power, light, and energy.
Why is Pancake Day called Shrove Tuesday?
The term “Shrove Tuesday” is derived from the word “shrive”, – which means presenting yourself to a religious leader for confession, penance and absolution. Shrove Tuesday became associated with pancakes in the Christian era, as it coincided with the day before Ash Wednesday and Lent. Christians, therefore, had to use up their eggs, sugar and milk before the fasting season.
How is Pancake Day celebrated?
Pancake Day is very popular in the UK. It is celebrated mainly by making and eating flat, round pancakes with delicious toppings. Traditional English pancakes differ from French crêpes and American pancakes. British pancakes are usually served with lemon juice, caster sugar or golden syrup.
Pancake Day is celebrated worldwide and is known by several names. In the US, most people call it Mardi Gras; in Germany, it’s called Fastnachtsdienstag, and in Poland, tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday).
Pancake Tuesday is known in Denmark and Norway as Fastelavn. It is celebrated by eating semla – a sweet roll often filled with cream. Christian festivals known as Maslenitsa are held in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, where thin pancakes known as blini are made and eaten.
In the Mediterranean and Spanish-speaking countries, this period is called Carnival. It is celebrated with street festivals, floats, dancing, fancy dress and a lot of good food. In Spain, Shrove Tuesday is replaced with día de la tortilla (omelette day), and omelettes are eaten instead of pancakes. In Madeira, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated by eating malasadas – which are fried egg-sized balls of dough coated with sugar.
Early Years Pancake Day ideas and activities for communication and language development
These fun early years resources are designed to engage the little ones and promote language development. An engaging theme such as Pancake Day is an excellent opportunity to teach new vocabulary, rehearse spoken language, explore different traditions around the world and experiment!
Making pancakes is a wonderful thing to do with children. There are so many activities: cracking the eggs; pouring in the milk; mixing it all together; cooking it in the frying pan; tossing it; flipping it and tasting it. All these different activities can be photographed and recorded into Chatta. As a result, you’ll have a really clear explanation of how you made the pancakes with the children.
Pancakes taste delicious, and there are a lot of different toppings. We don’t always like them all, but some of them we love. Ask the children what their favourite toppings are. Use Chatta to describe which toppings they like and which ones they don’t like. Put the pictures of the toppings in Chatta and record your descriptions and preferences.
The Big Pancake Story
Telling the story of the big pancake is the perfect link to Shrove Tuesday. There is sequencing, storytelling, language and repetition. Use Chatta to tell the story, and the children can retell it and listen to it. You can even send the story home so guardians can use it as a Chatta Club activity.
Explore the old tradition of the pancake race in class or the schoolyard. Use a timer to see how often the little ones can toss their pancakes in a certain amount of time.
Alternatively, organise a race. After establishing the ground rules, have the children toss pancakes into the air and see who can catch them in the frying pan while running. See how many times they can catch pancakes without dropping them before reaching the finishing post! In addition to being a fun activity, it’s also a great way to incorporate physical exercise and improve the children’s fine motor skills.
Pancake Tuesday gives so many opportunities for making, cooking, tasting and eating. Why not start by looking at the ingredients for pancakes and make a shopping list? This can be recorded in Chatta. Describe and name all the items you’ll need. E.g. To make pancakes, you will need some milk, flour, eggs and a little bit of oil.
Pancake science experiment
Pancake Day is an excellent way to teach children all about science. Try to make pancakes with and without baking powder and with and without whisking eggs. Encourage the students to use different words to describe the resulting pancakes. Use a Chatta board to record the baking process and note new vocabulary.
Counting pancake toppings
Make a paper pancake and encourage the little ones to draw pancake toppings on a separate sheet of paper. Cut out each drawing and count how many children drew the same toppings. Use Chatta to describe the process, the toppings (e.g. strawberries, bananas, chocolate bits) and the number of toppings (e.g. Kate and John’s pancakes have three strawberries).
We hope you enjoy these EYFS Pancake Day activities. If you’re an early years practitioner and know of any activities we’ve not listed here, tweet us @hellochatta.
You can download the Chatta software and trial it for free by visiting https://app.chattalearning.com/.