With Christmas fast approaching would you like an activity that combines exploring mince pies with practising different types of scientific enquiry including identifying, classifying and sorting and using secondary sources? Wouldn’t it be even better if that activity gave your children the opportunity to apply some tricky scientific vocabulary in a meaningful and engaging way?
One of the activities in our free resource, Kitchen Concoctions, “What’s in a mince pie” does just that. The lesson has been designed to help children understand that some mixtures can be permanently changed into new things whereas others can still be separated into their original ingredients. It also helps children to understand what a mixture is and that there can be mixtures within mixtures.
Children work in pairs or small groups to break a mince pie in half and to explore what it is made of. They are asked to consider whether it is just one thing or a mixture of different things. They discover that although the pastry is made up of more than one ingredient it seems to be one thing, and can no longer be separated back into its separate ingredients.
They then use a tooth pick and hand lens to carefully examine and separate out the individual ingredients from a spoonful of mincemeat taken from a jar, they initially find that many of the ingredients can be separated out. However, when they use the ingredients list (from the side of the jar) as a secondary source they realise that not all of the ingredients are still visible and they can no longer be separated from the rest of the mixture. If they then take part in the extension activity to bake their own mince pies they are able to observe change over time as they notice the changes that happen to both the pastry and the mince pie when they are heated.
This activity, alongside the other eight exciting activities in Kitchen Concoctions, can be downloaded for free at http://www.ciec.org.uk/kitchen_concoctions/. It contains full teacher guidance for all of the activities described, which is particularly useful for hard pressed teachers at this hectic time of year. To receive a free printed copy of our acclaimed resource ‘Working Scientifically’, let us know how you get on using the mince pie activity with your class. You can do this by leaving a comment on the blog or by tweeting to