Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley is a fantastic book to share with young children. We had lots of fun recreating the story with moments for mark marking (for non-teachers this is basically early writing practice, so getting used to holding a pen and making marks on paper), counting and number recognition, science and role play. The best bit about imaginative play is that children don’t even realise they are learning.
We read the story together and then we started to play. First we pretended to be Mr Wolf writing out his shopping list. It is a lovely simple task for young children as Mr Wolf only needs three ingredients: milk, eggs and sugar. Depending on where you child is in their writing journey you could write the shopping list and ask your child to trace over the top to practice the shape of the letters and if they are writing you can ask them to write the list independently.
Once Mr Wolf writes his shopping list he needs to count out his money so we wrote the numbers, one to ten, on bottle tops and jar lids and Burt counted to ten. Then, I quizzed him to find different numbers.
Now it was time for us to set up our own version of Old Mother Hubbard’s General Store. I had kept an empty milk carton, egg box and flour packet and we set those out on a table. I then sat behind the table and assumed my role as Old Mother Hubbard and Burt played Mr Wolf. We had some lovely conversations about the weather and whether there was anything else that Mr Wolf needed (he asked for a bag to put his shopping in). Burt read perfectly from the shopping list and requested milk, eggs and flour and he paid by counting out the bottle tops. At his request we repeated this role play for the best part of a whole morning!
Next came the cooking. We eventually made it to the kitchen and made special Mr Wolf pancakes for our lunch. I wanted to keep true to Mr Wolf’s three ingredients so that is all we used. Making the batter is so simple that it can be done by a toddler with a balloon whisk - no need for special equipment just measuring scales, a bowl, a whisk, a frying pan and a fish slice or palette knife to flip the pancakes. Before we started I cut some squares of greaseproof paper so that we could separate the cooked pancakes with the paper to stop them sticking.
Mr Wolf’s Pancake Recipe
You will need:
- 110g flour
- 2 eggs
- 200ml milk
Measure your flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack two eggs into the middle of the flour. Whisk enthusiastically (with the help of an adult if necessary). Whilst still whisking, add the milk slowly until all the ingredients combine to make a smooth batter. Heat the pan and a little butter if you have a non-stick pan. When the pan is hot add a ladle of batter and quickly swirl it around the pan to make a pancake of about 20cm diameter. After a couple of minutes, flip the pancake over with the fish slice or palette knife and after another minute put the pancake on a plate to cool and start to cook another pancake. Our mixture made 6 pancakes. You can introduce some Science here by discussing how the liquid batter turns to a solid when heat is added. There is a change of state. I explained this to Burt and when I asked him later “What does a liquid turn into?” he said matter-of-factly “A pancake.”
In the story of Mr Wolf’s Pancakes his miserable neighbours smell the delicious aromas wafting from Mr Wolf’s kitchen and come knocking on his door. He lets them in and once they are all inside he gobbles them up! We wanted to make our round pancakes into the shapes of the neighbours so that we could gobble them up too. We used cookie cutters to cut the shapes out of the pancakes and I did some freehand cutting with a knife.
Then we used icing pens to add details. Here is our pancake version of Mr Wolf’s rotten neighbours Chicken Licken, Wee Willy Winky, the Gingerbread Man, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs…
After Mr Wolf has eaten all his naughty neighbours he has his stack of pancakes all to himself. Now we thought that a stack of large pancakes after eating all the neighbours was a bit much so we cut small circles out of a large pancake to make a mini stack. These tiny pancakes were perfect for little hands and I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to me before. Burt will be having stacks of mini-pancakes in future and they were delicious with maple syrup.
It is great to find a story that is so beautifully told and illustrated that also allows such natural opportunities to play and practice key skills. If you have a child under five years old, Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley is a must!
Have you been inspired by a book to craft, go on an outing or do an activity this week?