Free 20-Idea Teaching Packet: Pancakes in Your Curriculum

Free 20-Idea Teaching Packet: Pancakes in Your Curriculum

In my recent serialized book [first 20 entries] The Next Page, Ms. Page delved into making pancakes.
And the teaching ideas just kept springing forth.

Here is a PDF entitled ‘Weaving curriculum into a pancake morning’.

Hoping you get a few useful, fun ideas.

The Next Page Entry 42: Enough already on the pancakes!

The Next Page Entry 42: Enough already on the pancakes!

pancake with measuring tape 2

Sanjay needed an assistant to help measure his work.

I glanced at Mrs. Nix patrolling the class as I awaited Sanjay’s decision on his assistant.

We were in what I’ve called ‘the dead zone’ where 90 percent of the class is sitting and waiting.

Not good when an administrator is in the crowd. So I asked the class to partner up and first estimate the radius of their paper plates, then measure the diameter, and then figure out how accurate their estimation was.

This ‘ad libbing’ thing is getting exhausting. But I wasn’t done.

I asked Mrs. Nix if she could give me Sanjay any hints on his challenge. My thinking: the busier [i.e. more distracted] the visiting administrator, the better.

And I liked the idea of cold-calling her.

She suggested that because batter spreads he needed to do some pre-testing with a little glop in a corner of the griddle.

And then, inspiration hit.

I pulled Beth aside and asked her to move the laptop next to the griddle and set up the document camera.

“You’ve never even used it before,” she said to me. As usual, she lets me get away with nothing.

I told her now was as good a time as any and that she’d get a second round at the griddle.

Five minutes later, in a sea of cables and plugs and elbows and mouse-clicks and laptop and camera repositioning, we had a pancake on the big screen!

Sanjay’s pancake didn’t quite make the four-inch mark.

Out of the blue, Mrs. Nix stepped forward. She poured some batter, waited about five seconds, and asked for a measurement.

Three inches. The kids were glued to the big screen.,

Mrs. Nix lifted one handle of the griddle and said, “How about if we play with gravity a little bit?” The batter spread and then she lowered the handle again and asked for another measurement. Four inches.

Our guest took a ladleful of batter and scribbled out a big number four on the griddle. The kids cheered and I couldn’t help but smile.

Mrs. Nix…spontaneous. Who’d have dreamed?

The Next Page Entry 41: Even more on pancakes…

The Next Page Entry 41: Even more on pancakes…

pancake-with measuring tape

Entry 41: So with Mrs. Nix’s visit, I made quite a discovery.

Time marches on.


She joined us during the language arts portion of her treasured schedule and darned if the clock didn’t turn over to the mathematics slot.

And there I was still up to my elbows in pancake batter.

It wasn’t as if she was trying to mind-meld me into switching subjects, but still that expectation hung heavy, at least in my mind.

And so…

“Sanjay, are you ready for a challenge? Come on up!”

He shrugged, but I noticed that Beth the Enforcer gave him a healthy nudge.

Up he came. 

“In the next five minutes, create a pancake with a diameter of four inches, give or take a half-inch.”

The Next Page Entry 40: More on pancakes…

The Next Page Entry 40: More on pancakes…

pancake shaped like a robot

It hit me later…two of the fifth-graders from Mrs. Smalley’s room came by to ask for a couple of spare rulers. And ten minutes later, Mrs. Nix popped in.

A. Rulers? Really? I was too busy with the pancake making and general kid management to realize what a lame request that was. Anyway, I have to think Mrs. Smalley—one of Mrs. Nix’s favored few [Mr. Taylor calls them ‘the cool kids’] who join her for morning coffee in the principal’s office— was launching a little recon patrol.

B. Two kids to carry spare rulers? Boy, I’m lame.

Anyway, there she was…and clearly we were far from adhering to her treasured schedule slot, which called for writing.

Undeterred, I welcomed her and asked her if she had any pancake memories. That threw her. I just told her that one of my favorites was going to The Haven on Friday nights with my family and ordering chocolate chip pancakes, cutting them down the middle and swapping half for half of my brother’s strawberries-and-whipped-cream pancake order.

And she actually had an answer…Saturday was pancake day for her two kids and she and her husband would pour the batter from an arm’s length away to come up with all kinds of random shapes. Well, she just opened the door for that one. The kids pleaded with her to do that for them. She looked at me and I just shrugged. I had to admit—I loved the idea.

“But first!” I said. The kids groaned. They know what those two words mean—some little learning task is coming.

They were right. They had to take their journals and write 50 words on the Mrs. Nix’s splatter art approach to pancake creation.

Nice move, Ms. Page. We squeezed in our writing after all.