This is a fun and educational activity that you can do at home with your child. Our in-house chefs make pancakes for our students at our CEFA Early Learning schools, and they love them! But I have to say, there’s nothing they love more than making the pancakes themselves. Cooking is an immensely educational activity, and I really encourage you to start cooking with your child, or involving them in the cooking process more, even at a young age.

Best Ages for This Activity

One to five

How to Make It

Ingredients (for 12 pancakes)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar (you can substitute with sweetener)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cups milk (440 ml)
  • ¼ cup butter (60g)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

You Will Also Need

  • A pancake turner or flipper
  • 2 large bowls or containers (for mixing)
  • A stove your child can access and a coated, non-stick (enameled) skillet. I use enameled because they are better for your health than Teflon or non-stick, and I cook every day, but you can use whatever you normally cook with.
  • If your child cannot safely access your stove, you can use what we use at our schools: an electric griddle. We make lots of different recipes on them, and they can sit on a child-sized table, where your child can cook a little more safely.

Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to make plain homemade pancakes
  • Start by cleaning the work surface, then measuring all the ingredients and getting them ready to cook with. Make sure that your child does as much of the measuring, mixing and pouring as possible, as well as the cleaning and putting away. These are all incredible learning experiences and the more your child does, the more they can practice math, science, fine motor skills, life skills, and other learning skills.
  • Melt the butter (it can be done in the microwave or in a small pan) and let it cool down a little while you:
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, vanilla and egg until combined. You can use a whisk or an electric mixer for this.
  • Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, mixing slowly. You might get a few bumps but that’s ok. You can also use the electric mixer if you prefer.
  • You now have the batter. If you prefer your batter less thick, you can add a little milk and mix, to make it thinner.
  • Turn on the griddle or stove top to low-medium heat.
  • Slightly grease the pan or griddle with a little butter (I use butter sticks that children can hold and “paint” the pan with (not too much butter – they need to move fast). If your child is too young for this part, you can grease the surface yourself.
  • Show your child how to pour pancake batter on the pan and watch it spread into a larger circle. You can use a measuring cup with batter in in (you will pour about ¼ cup per pancake). Be sure to supervise at all times as the pan is hot and can burn.
  • If the batter is thick and does not spread, you can help your child spread it gently using the back of a spoon.
  • Teach your child that the pancakes are ready to be flipped when the underside is golden and little bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake. Teach them how to flip a pancake and remember that as messy as things can get, this is helping your child become independent and learn all sorts of skills needed to succeed at school.
  • Once they are ready, your child can proudly serve the pancakes to the whole family! What a wonderful way to contribute.
  • Serve with maple syrup or whipped cream and fruit on the side.

Learning Opportunities

I love helping children learn to cook because it is a great life skill and an incredible way to contribute, to give of yourself to others, to do something for someone other than yourself, which children both love doing and need to do. By cooking with you, children feel great pride, and benefit from a healthy self-esteem. They also learn to be independent and responsible. Children will learn S.T.E.M. while measuring, combining, mixing, counting, This recipe also has a great amount of hand-eye coordination skills, and of fine motor skills, a precursor to writing. following directions also teaches reading and S.T.E.M..

Doing this activity together is also a great opportunity for you and your child to connect. You can share life stories, ask them about them, their plans, and get closer. For example, you can ask:

  • Who are you preparing pancakes for?
  • What is your favorite topping for the pancakes? What is theirs?
  • What other types of pancakes do you want to try next time? For example, banana, chocolate chips or blueberry pancakes?
  • Do you remember a time when we had pancakes as a family? What did you like about it? (you can also share your favorite pancake family time from when you were a child)
  • Who else likes pancakes? (Grandma? Uncle? Friends from school?)
  • Etc.

Distributing the pancakes equally amongst all family members is also 1 to 1 correspondence – a math concept. It also works on the math concepts of estimating quantities, measuring, division, and many others.

Making the pancakes, cleaning the workspace and the dishes are essential life skills. Cooking in itself is also an important life skill and sharing what they cooked with the rest of the family teaches your child the habit of contribution and thinking of others.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Invite your child to invent pancake recipes for next time by asking them to suggest different things they can add to the batter. They can be banana-chocolate chip pancakes, or blueberry pancakes, or just chocolate chip ones – try a few types!

CEFA tip: Remember to let your child do as much of the process as they are capable of.

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