Functional Math - Making Pancakes

I made pancakes last week with four of my math students. We read the directions off a Bisquik box (all we needed to add was water). We kept referring back to the directions in order to promote independence instead of staff telling them what to do. (I love picture recipes as much as the next special education teacher, really, I promise. BUT with these more simple recipe and my higher level students, I want them to learn to read the recipe on the box since they are capable and that's what they will have with them in the real world.)
There are so many skills to teach and practice in a simple(ish) task of making pancakes. That's why I love working with my students on activities like this, because I actually make them do everything! It's fun to see what they do and sometimes surprising to see what they do not think to do.

Using the stove – the directions said to turn to medium-low, so we found high, medium, low, and put the knob in the middle of the "m" and the "l". We talked about basic pan safety, keeping the handle in. We also checked if it was hot by sprinkling water on to see if it would sizzle. We also discussed the difference between a griddle, which gets plugged in, and a skillet, which goes on the stove. We also discussed (and practiced) TURNING IT OFF when we were done.

Making the batter – finding the right cups that we needed (many students first went to the measuring spoons – so we reviewed the difference between those), and we also talked about being able to use a 1/3 cup to measuring 2/3 (working on those adding fractions skills!), measuring those cups to the TOP, and also the difference between a spatula and a wire whisk

Cooking the pancakes - We used a ¼ cup to pour the pancakes so they would all be about the same size. We watched the pancakes for bubbles and then worked on getting the spatula under the pancake and using our wrist to flip (very tricky - a lot of hand-over-hand was needed here at first). We couldn’t see bubbles on the other side, so we needed to wait and flip to check. We talked about them being done when they are brown. And they they could eat their pancakes (after finding the right utensils of course!)

So, have you thought of all these skills that are including in making pancakes? I know I sure didn't but loved seeing a lot of these teachable moments come up. What's your favorite recipe to make with students?


  1. Cooking is definitely a great learning activity in so many ways... and getting to eat the food afterwards is really the key to the kids' hearts!

  2. I love this post! So many things we do automatically while cooking...doing a task analysis like this is always surprising to me when I realize all the small steps involved in a seemingly 'simple' activity :) I bet your students loved making (and of course eating) their pancakes!

    I went looking for your email so I could send you the Health & Nutrition Bundle but couldn't find it...Can you let me know what email address you'd like me to send it to? Thanks!


  3. Hi Brie! I found you from the Boo Linky Party (through Life in Special Education). Welcome to blogging! I am a 5th grade special education teacher. I love the name of your blog and the play on your name!

    Sarah Eager
    The Eager Weekend
    The Eager Teacher


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