In this lesson, the children will explore changes in matter as they mix and cook pancakes.

Content Area:

Physical Properties

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Explore the physical properties of objects
  • Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices such as observing, asking questions, solving problems and drawing conclusions


Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Drawing meaning from experience and information by describing, talking and thinking about what happened during an investigation
  • Generating explanations and communicating ideas and/or conclusions about their investigations
  • Identifying, describing and comparing the physical properties of objects
  • Experimenting with changes in matter when combined with other substances
toddler with sunflower


Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Pancake recipe (written out on chart paper)
  • Pancake ingredients (choose a recipe that accommodates the dietary restrictions/food allergies of the children in your classroom)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Electric skillet
  • Book: Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. During a large group time, read the book Pancakes, Pancakes.
  2. Discuss with the children that we will be making pancakes today.
  3. Ask the children what we might need to make pancakes.
  4. Create an ingredients list with the children’s ideas.
  5. Review the rules related to the use of an electric skillet: “The skillet is very hot, so do not touch. Only teachers will flip and remove the pancakes.”
  6. Introduce the recipe that you will be using.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Assemble the children in small groups and ask them what will happen when we mix the ingredients together.
  2. With the children’s help, add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  3. Invite the children to observe the dry ingredients and describe what they see.
  4. Ask the children to predict what will happen when the wet ingredients are added.
  5. Have the children pour the wet ingredients into the bowl.
  6. Before mixing, again ask the children to observe and describe what they see.
  7. Ask the children to predict what will happen when we mix the ingredients together.
  8. After the mixture is mixed smooth, ask the children what will happen when the pancake batter is poured onto the hot skillet.
  9. Review the rules about the electric skillet again.
  10. While the pancakes are cooking, ask the children to observe and describe what is happening to the batter.
  11. Discuss the changes that took place while the pancakes were cooking, then eat and enjoy the pancakes!

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Mix: To combine materials together
  • Combine: To add materials together, resulting in a new, changed material
  • Predict: To guess what might happen next
  • States of matter: Liquid, solid or gas

Early Science Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Be interested in touching the ingredients to explore the textures
  • Not fully understand the recipes
  • Not follow the rules about using electric skillets
Child care providers may:
  • Allow the children to mix the ingredients with their (clean!) hands
  • Have all of the ingredients ready to mix, without reviewing the recipe directions
  • Involve the children in the mixing steps, but cook the pancakes away from the children
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Be interested in exploring different proportions of wet and dry ingredients
  • Be interested in adding other ingredients to predict what might happen
Child care providers may:
  • Guide experiments with different recipes to examine and compare the different batter consistencies
  • Add food coloring to explore color mixtures in pancake batter

Suggested Books

  • Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London
  • Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  • Loaves of Fun by Elizabeth Harbison

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Play with dirt, sand and water mixtures outdoors
    • Make mud
    • Leave mixtures out to dry to see what will happen, encouraging the children to make predictions

Web Resources

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