Perk up a blah, boring breakfast by making pancake shapes for your pint-sized food connoisseur. Sure, the traditional circular pancake is technically a shape in its own right, but you can still take your breakfast bonanza up a notch by making fanciful -- and educational -- designs that look almost as good as they taste.
Instead of confining geometry lessons to the classroom, take them into the kitchen. By the age of 3 or 4, most children can point out and say the name of simple geometric shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles and even diamonds. Use metal cookie cutters to make basic geometric pancakes. Instead of just stacking them on a plate and handing them off for your little one to scarf down, ask her to say the name of each shape. Add an extra layer to your lesson by having your child point out another similar shape in the room. For example, the rectangular pancake looks like the door or a circular pancake looks like the clock.
Why make just one shape when you can connect a few into something even better? While single shapes make excellent educational tools, you can join the shapes together, puzzle style, to make a brand-new picture. Give your little learner a few different pancake shapes -- such as circles, squares and triangles -- to piece together into her own picture. Watch as your child makes a mini house by adding a triangle roof to a square base or creates a cat face by connecting two small triangles to the top of a circle.
If you don't have metal cookie cutter molds to use, try a freehand shape. Use a spoon or a squeeze bottle to drizzle your pancake batter onto a heated griddle in your little one's favorite shape. Of course, never allow your child to use or stand near this or any other heated cooking surface. Draw a flower, make a fish or design any other shape that you and your child can come up with.
Themed Cookie Cutter Shapes
Aside from the traditional geometric shapes, you can create themed pancakes using specialized metal cookie cutter molds. Look for animals, holiday themes or even outer space designs. Place the cookie cutter on a heated griddle and pour the batter into the mold. Only use metal cookie cutters on your heated surface, as plastic ones can easily melt. If you only have plastic or other nonmetal cookie cutters, use them on ready-made pancakes: Whip up a batch of traditionally shaped pancakes, set them aside to cool for a few minutes, then press the cookie cutter through the pancake to create your themed shape design.