One of the most popular events during late February or early March, in the UK, is Pancake Day. I am sharing some lesson ideas you could use with your class to celebrate the event and to get your students learning more about this British custom.
It is very important to introduce your students to celebrations in the UK, so they are able to learn more about British society and events which they may come across. Furthermore, they will feel more inclusive within British society if they are able to participate with some events.
Lesson Idea 1: Pancake Day Kahoot Quiz
You can use a Kahoot quiz to generate interest with the class when introducing the topic of Pancake Day. I have created a Kahoot quiz that you could use just to help you save time. Make sure your students share smartphones or tablets together in small groups before starting. Also ensure there is a stable internet connection as some students may lose connection. Click the link below to have access to the Kahoot Quiz.
Lesson Idea 2: Introductory Vocabulary for Pancake Day
You can show a YouTube video about Pancake Day to introduce relevant vocabulary for students. Get students to watch the video twice. When watching the first time, they don’t make any notes but afterwards give them two minutes to write down anything they remember. Get them to compare notes of language and then they watch again. This time round though, they can write down any vocabulary that is included while watching the video.
Lesson Idea 3: Pancake Recipes
One of the most enjoyable tasks about learning anything is actually doing something related to it. Why not get students to make a pancake together? They make pancakes together but make sure they learn the recipe first of all. You could get them to watch video about making pancakes before you let them lose in the school kitchen. If you and your students don’t have access to the school kitchen, get them to make pancakes as part of their homework and they must bring in their creations the following lesson.
Lesson Idea 4: Pancake Day Jigsaw Reading
Have a look at the following information about Pancake Day and print it out for use in class. Students read the information which is cut up and stuck around the classroom. Include questions for students to find and then they write their answers on their answer sheets. You could give students a time to complete the task before they move on to the next paragraph.
Pancake Day (or: Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras) is a special day celebrated in many countries around the world. It is celebrated in English-speaking countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada.
In France, the USA and other countries, it is called ‘Mardi Gras’ or ‘Fat Tuesday’. In others like Spain, Italy or Brazil, Shrove Tuesday is at the end of Carnival. On this day many people eat pancakes: thin, flat cakes made in a pan.
Pancake Day is always on a Tuesday in February or March. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter when people often give up or stop eating things that are bad for them like chocolate or fast food. At the end of Lent is Easter.
Easter takes place on a different date each year because it depends on the moon. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Traditionally, during Lent, people didn’t eat rich foods like butter and eggs, so to use them up they made pancakes from these ingredients on Shrove Tuesday.
Another tradition on Pancake Day in the UK’s pancake racing. According to tradition, in 1445 a woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan. People run in a race with a pancake in a pan. As they run, they have to toss the pancake (throw the pancake in the air and catch it in the pan) several times.
In some pancake races people dress up in fancy dress costumes. The most famous pancake race takes place in a town called Olney, in the middle of England. People say that Olney has been celebrating pancake races since 1445!
The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year:
Eggs ~ Creation
Flour ~ The staff of life
Salt ~ Wholesomeness
Milk ~ Purity
To make 8 or so pancakes you will need 8oz plain flour, 2 large eggs, 1 pint milk, salt. Mix all together and whisk well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base of the pancake has browned. Then shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip the pancake over to brown the other side.
As a variation, you could get students to read the text located around the classroom and they have to think of questions to include with the reading. They write down their questions on one piece of paper per group and then you collect them in, redistribute the questions to other groups and then those groups have to find the answers in the reading.
Lesson Idea 5: Pancake Day Survey
Give students some questions that they must ask each other as part of a survey. Questions could include:
- Have you ever celebrated Pancake Day?
- What sort of pancakes do you have in your country?
- What toppings would you include with your pancake? Why?
- What ingredients are important when making a pancake?
- What do you know about Pancake Day?
It is a simple task to get students chatting in English but surveys are vital for a communicative classroom. Get students to write down their answers first before surveying other students. As a final task, you could get students to write down a mini-report based on the answers that they have received.
What are your favourite pancake related lesson ideas? What do you usually do with your students in the classroom? Let me know in the comments below.