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April 24, 2020

Food Science for Kids: Making Ice Cream in a Bag  

By: Lisa Glisel

Making ice cream in a bag is a great activity for any age, even preschoolers! It’s a fun recipe that involves fine and gross motor skills. You can use this opportunity to discuss ingredients and nutrition, measurements, and the science behind making ice cream. With such a hands-on activity, kids are sure to be engaged.  

Step One: Bring your kiddos together and talk about what you need to make ice cream. Maybe you want to write a list of ingredients to practice handwriting.  

For this recipe, you will need the following: 

  • Whole milk, heavy cream, or half and half  
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract 
  • Ice
  • Kosher salt or ice cream salt
  • Plastic freezer bag
  • Plastic container
 with lid (For an alternative recipe that only uses freezer bags, click here.) 
  • Spoons and bowls
  • Sprinkles (optional but fun!)  

Step Two: Fill the plastic container most of the way with ice. Have each child sprinkle salt all over the ice (about 1/2 cup) 

Step Three: Pour one cup of milk into the plastic freezer bag. I use whole milk and then add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Have the grown up get most of the air out of the bag and zip it closed.  

Step Four: Put the freezer bag with the ingredients into the plastic container and cover with lid. Then have the kiddos shake the container. You can also slide it back and forth on a flat surface. Take turns moving the ice cream around for about 1015 minutes. Check it every now and then to see how it’s coming along by opening the container and gently squeezing the bag.  

Step Five: Now, it’s time to talk about the science of this activity. When we add salt to ice, we lower the freezing point. This is the same reason we ice sidewalks and roads in the winter. The melting ice absorbs heat from the bag of ice cream allowing us to quickly freeze our delicious treat! For older kids, review the chemistry questions posed by this Scientific American article.  

Step Six: Now it’s time eat our ice cream! Add sprinkles or any toppings you can find! Maybe you have chopped nuts or M&Ms you can put on top.  

Now that you know how to make your own ice cream, maybe you want to read a book about ice cream. You can find children’s books that feature ice cream or talk about the history of ice cream on Hoopla. If you’re interested in ice cream around the world, check out Christina Leaf’s Our Favorite Foods: Ice Cream!