Teaching English Through the Topic
A Scheme of Work
Literacy, Science/Geography/History, Art
Curriculum Learning Objectives through the
Pancake Day also Known as Shrove Tuesday
Teacher’s Information Sheet – Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday
By Gina Cocks
In the UK, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day because
it is the one day of the year when almost everyone eats a
The name Shrove comes from the old word quot;shrivequot; which means
to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, the local church would ring the
shriving bell to call people to come and confess their sins so that
they were forgiven before the season of Lent began. Over the
years the ringing bell has also become known as the pancake bell.
Lent is important in the Christian calendar and begins on Ash
Wednesday, the day after Pancake Day and lasts for 40 days
(not including Sundays). It reminds people of the 40 days and
nights that Jesus spent in the desert with no food being
tempted by the devil. It is a time when Christians prepare for
Easter by thinking of things they have done wrong and trying to
correct them. They think about promises they have made in the
past and how they can keep them. During Lent, some Christians
‘fast’. This means they stop eating ‘rich’ foods like meat, eggs,
butter and milk. Nowadays, it is more common for people to only
give up eating their favourite food, such as chocolate or cakes.
Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use
up the foods that aren't allowed during Lent. Since pancakes
contain, butter, milk, flour and eggs (which were all forbidden
during Lent) it became tradition to use up these ingredients by
making pancakes for dinner on Shrove Tuesday.
Pancake racing takes place in many counties across the UK.
According to tradition, in 1445 a woman in a village called Olney
in Buckinghamshire, heard the shriving bell being rang at the
church but was still preparing her pancakes. The story says that
so she wasn’t late to church she ran there in her apron, still
clutching her frying pan. The Olney pancake race is now world
famous. Competitors have to be local housewives and they must
wear an apron and a hat or scarf. Each contestant has a frying
pan containing a hot pancake and she must toss it three times
during the race. The first woman to complete the course and
arrive at the church, serve her pancake to the bell ringer, and
be kissed by him, is the winner. She also receives a prayer book
from the vicar. The current record is 63 seconds set in 1967.
During Shrovetide, (the three days before Lent) other activities
take place. In Scarborough, on Shrove Tuesday, everyone
assembles on the promenade to skip. Long ropes are stretched
across the road and there maybe be ten or more people skipping
on one rope. In Ashbourne, Derbyshire the oldest, largest,
longest and maddest football game in the world takes place. The
game begins on Shrove Tuesday and lasts two days, involving
thousands of players. The goals are three miles apart and there
are only a few rules. The ball is hand-painted and filled with
fast - to stop eating
forbidden - not allowed
Lent – 40 day period before Easter
pancake - frixuelo – cake made from batter in a frying pan
promenade- wide pavement next to the seafront
rich foods - delicious, indulgent foods
shrive - to confess sins
shriving bell – bell rang to call people to church to confess
shrove - old English from the verb ‘to shrive’
Shrovetide – 3 days before the beginning of Lent
sins - bad things people say or do
skipping - jumping over a turning rope
toss - throw something high into the air and catch it again
Question and Answers Activity Game
Photocopy and then cut out the questions and answers. Put
children in small groups and give each group a question or an
The object of the game is for the children to read their paper
and find its pair. Ask the groups to walk around the room asking
each other to read their paper.
All groups share their information with the class.
Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge
yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't
allowed during Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this
day because they contain, butter, milk, flour and
eggs which were all forbidden during Lent.
So why do we eat pancakes on Shrove
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after
Pancake Day and lasts for 40 days (not including
Sundays). 40 days has a special meaning because
it reminds Christians about the 40 days and
nights Jesus spent alone in the desert without
food being tempted by the Devil.
How long does Lent Last?
Lent is the time when Christians prepare for
Easter by thinking of things they have done
wrong and trying to correct them. They think
about promises they have made in the past and
how they can keep those promises.
During Lent, Christians used to stop eating
‘rich’ foods like meat, eggs, butter and milk.
This is known as fasting. Nowadays, some
people just give up their favourite food, such
as chocolate or cakes.
What is Lent?
The name Shrove comes from the old word
quot;shrivequot; which means to confess. On Shrove
Tuesday people used to confess their sins so
that they were forgiven before the season
of Lent began.
What does fasting mean?
Why do we call the day Shrove
I find it useful to introduce a theme by reading a text together.
Teacher’s can chose the type of text they use depending on
what the learning objective focus is.
Children can try several different styles of reading/writing
about the pancake theme.
The following is a newspaper article published in the Mail Online.
Children's pancake race axed by health
and safety killjoys
By CHRIS BROOKE
Last updated at 21:00 04 February 2008 (from the Mail online)
A cathedral city's traditional pancake race has been scrapped because of fears over
health and safety.
The event was revived 11 years ago and since then crowds have gathered in the centre
of Ripon, North Yorkshire, on Shrove Tuesday to watch school children running down a
cobbled street flipping pancakes as they go.
The start is signalled by the ringing of the cathedral's ancient quot;pancake bellquot; at 11 am on
The bell, originally sounded to call worshippers to make their confession before the
start of Lent, has been rung at that time for at least 600 years.
However, organisers have reluctantly scrapped the popular pancake race this year
because of mounting costs and bureaucracy linked to health and safety rules.
Sorry, not this year: Choristers in a previous pancake race
Payments for road closures, policing, insurance risk assessments and volunteer staffing
problems have forced the cathedral Dean to call time on the tradition.
The Very Rev Keith Jukes, the new Dean of Ripon, said: quot;We have looked at this and
there are a number of reasons it won't take place and a big reason sadly this year is
health and safety.
quot;Any organisation which runs an event has to go through a number of risk assessments.
quot;The insurance companies demand it and in the end you have to work out whether it's a
risk you take.
quot;There is also the whole issue of road closures which can be an expensive business.quot;
Organiser Councillor Bernard Bateman added: quot;Health and safety has just gone too far.
It makes you think twice about even trying to hold events like this, even though they are
extremely popular, especially amongst children.
quot;The main issue with health and safety is the cobbled street people could slip on, but it
causes us so much trouble just for a little issue.
quot;Bureaucracy puts people off, with too much paperwork and most importantly
quot;This stupidity never happened previously. It's a shame that these issues stop the
children enjoying such a traditional event.quot;
Mr Bateman said if the event had gone ahead organisers would have faced a charge for
road closures, policing and St John Ambulance first aid cover for the first time.
quot;We had hoped to make the pancake race as much of a tradition as the pancake bell and
it's a travesty that it has been killed off after just 12 years,quot; he added.
Public opinion in the city echoed his criticism.
Jean Smith, 61, said: quot;It's totally daft. Why should paperwork get in the way of kids
having fun. We seem to hear it all the time now but it's bureaucracy gone mad.quot;
Recently, army caterers have set up a field kitchen to cook the pancakes for school
children and choristers to toss as they race down the street.
And in years gone by the races were likened to a village sports day, providing families
with the last chance to have fun before the hardships of Lent.
Before pancake races became a feature in Ripon, the cathedral bell would summon
penitents to be quot;shrivenquot; by confessing before the start of Lent.
The first pancake race was said to have taken place in Olney, Bucks, in 1445 and
originated from a housewife, busy cooking pancakes to eat before Lent, rushing outside
with pan in hand when the bells sounded to summon people to church.
Children could read comments sent into the newspaper online
from other readers and write their own response.
If this is difficult perhaps they could try writing an article
about a pancake race they took part in, like a sports report.
Below is an example:
in racing against each other whilst
Pancake Races at flipping their pancakes. Due to the
Atalia reported by Gina poor weather conditions the races
had to take place under the sports
cover but this didn’t spoil the
fun.Lots of Parents came to
Yesterday was not a normal
support their children and enjoy
day for pupils at Atalia the tasty pancakes. This year it
School. Shrove Tuesday was was particularly good to see
celebrated as always with some teachers and parents racing
exciting pancake races. The against each other.
children from Primary took turns
How do you make a pancake?
Imaginative recipes for different flavoured pancakes.
Using factual information children can create their own
playscripts and perform these later in art sessions, (art includes
drama). Try writing some plays to explain the following:
– How the first pancake race happened.
– Traditional Stories like The Naughty Pancake
– A performance to enact factual information about
– A spoof cookery programme
– The Ashbourne football match – The year we couldn’t find
the special ball
Of course teachers can also write their own simple versions
of text and create question and answer style activities.
Gap fill exercises are useful for assessing children’s
Question and Answer Activity Game is noisier but more fun.
If children are faced with new vocabulary its good to try a
present it in many different ways, crosswords and word
searches are good for this.