Pancake Day: Risky Pancakes!

Pancake day is a great time to play and test out new skills.

But should children be allowed to flip pancakes?

The short answer is: yes!

There is, of course, a degree of risk involved in allowing a child to take an active role in making pancakes; the hazard of the hot stove, pan, and oil, which may all cause burns.

No one wants a child to come to harm, but how do we find a sensible balance?

As children grow, it is important to support them to develop skills to judge risks for themselves and make safe decisions. Research shows that when children are given the freedom to take positive risks, they develop skills to assess and manage their own risk, as well as confidence, self-esteem, resilience, and lifelong coping strategies.

The Care Inspectorate promote a balanced approach which weighs up risk and benefits.


So, what are the benefits to a child from flipping a pancake?

  • Confidence
  • Fun
  • Achievement
  • Skill
  • Understanding of consequence
  • Self-reliance and independent
  • Pancakes are tastier when you’ve flipped them yourself!

How to support:

Demonstrate how to do it or watch a video together

Practice with an old DVD/CD or some fabric and a pan

Hold their hands on the pan and show them the motion with no pancake in the pan

Remember: Try not to get annoyed or upset if a pancake ends up on the floor – this is all learning and problem solving!

If a child gets upset about it, support them to try again.

More Pancake Day Ideas

Why not come up with a pancake song or chant together or even a pancake dance!

Decorate your pancakes in creative ways – why not try to make a face?

Learn about other cultures – in Denmark they celebrate Fastenlavn by dressing up and hitting a cardboard box decorate to look like a cat and that is filled with sweets! In Lithuania children go “trick or treat”-ing for pancake ingredients. And in Brazil they have a huge carnival!

Cultures around the world have important holidays that have a special food associated with them. For example, for Hannukah people celebrate by eating Sufganiyah – a type of doughunt. And for Eid there is a whole host of delicious food that people eat to celebrate such as baklava and dates.

Did you know: in the Scottish Gaelic tradition, it is important to feast on Pancake Day otherwise you would have bad luck at Easter!

More Risky Play Ideas

Risk can come from everyday adventures as well as more special activities such as:

  • Climbing up high objects such as trees and climbing frames
  • Testing out speed on wheels or swings
  • Balancing on walls or beams

Remember that children develop at their own pace and you shouldn’t force children to try a risky activity just because their peers are doing it. The goal is for children to be able to assess and manage their own risk.

Be mindful that sometimes we can unconsciously encourage more risky play for boys, and ask girls to be careful.

Read our Risky Play leaflet here:

Listen to our podcast about Risky Play here: