Ice Cream in a Bag

Ice Cream in a Bag

Are you still looking for a fun last-day-before-break activity? Here is one of my favorites. In fact, I wasn’t much of a classroom party planner, so I would do this instead of a winter party with my third graders. It was a hit every year! And it was much easier to contain excited kiddos than when I would try to play a movie.

There’s a little bit of math, a little bit of science, and a little bit of ice cream. Perfect!

Planning and Prep:

First, I used Laura Candler’s recipe. You can find it in her science file cabinet. (She has a TON of other resources there, too!)

Ice Cream Recipe

As a math lesson, you can even involve your students in the planning. Use multiplication or repeated addition to figure out how much of each ingredient you will need for the whole class. I asked parents to donate the supplies, and they were happy to.

IMG_0911The ingredients and materials to make the ice cream are simple:

  • whole milk
  • vanilla
  • sugar
  • salt
  • ice
  • large and small Ziplock bags

You will also need paper cups or bowls and spoons to enjoy the ice cream, and you might want to ask your students to bring in towels and gloves.

Setting Up Your Class

I used tables and desks to create an assembly line set up. You can get an idea of this in the video below.

Cover them with newspaper first for easy clean up later! The newspaper will also catch some of the spills and condensation from the bags.

Set the ingredients, measuring tools, and a card with the exact amount needed. Line them up. I did this order: small Ziplock bag, milk, sugar, vanilla, large Ziplock bag, salt, ice.

If you are working with younger students, you or another adult probably want to pour the milk because a gallon jug is heavy for the little ones. The vanilla may be a little tricky, too. The rest, students should be able to do themselves, depending on age.

The hardest part is the preparation and set up, which isn’t that bad. It took me 10-15 minutes to get everything ready and organized.

This is a great activity to invite parent volunteers for. One year I did it by myself. It was doable but challenging! If you have a few parent volunteers to recruit, it makes it go a lot smoother! Have one parent stand with each ingredient, making sure students are measuring correctly and zipping tightly.

Making the Ice Cream

The milk, sugar, and vanilla go in the small bag. Zip it. Zip it good. Then put the small bag in the large bag. Cover with salt and ice and zip it up.

IMG_0766Shake continuously for 10 minutes. Think like an ice cream churn. It has to be in constant motion. Put on some Christmas tunes, and turn the shaking into a dance party. After 10 minutes, scoop the ice cream into a cup and enjoy!

Ice Cream in a Bag

The ice cream in the bag. Be careful not to get the salt from the outside of the bag mixed in with the good stuff.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Looks good, right?!

Seriously, it’s that easy.

I even made you a video to demonstrate! My 4yo asks me everyday if we can do science, so finally I said yes, and this is what happened:

Some additional tips that I learned, some the hard way:

-You definitely want good Ziplock bags, not the cheap alternatives, especially for the small inside bag. There is a lot of movin’ and shakin’ and you don’t want the inside bag to open up and fill up with salt. It doesn’t make for tasty ice cream!

-Do not check the ice cream mid-shake. The salt will interfere with the zipping up of the Ziplocs. It won’t close properly, which leads, once again, to salty ice cream.

-There is a lot of condensation from the bags as the shaking is happening. It will end up on your floor or desks. Keep towels on hand to sop up the water, and try to keep your students contained in one area of your classroom. I actually would move the desks to the perimeter of the room, and have students do the shaking in the center.

-Have students bring in towels and gloves to use when shaking. The towels will help with the condensation from the bags. Also, the bags get super duper cold. I mean, that’s the point of course, but it is hard to continuously shake something when your hands are frozen. It actually added to the winter fun for us Florida folk. I had them bring in gloves, mittens, scarves, the whole kit and caboodle. We all own these things, almost as a novelty, but we rarely get to use them. So it made it extra special for us!

-Make sure you bring in extra ingredients. Someone will inevitably measure wrong or put salt instead of sugar. Or not close it properly. You know, Murphy’s law. Keep extra ingredients to make sure everyone gets to enjoy the fruits (dairy?) of their labor.

Happy Teaching!


Ice Cream in a Bag

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Free Random Holiday Calendar

Sign up now to receive a free printable calendar with a holiday for each day of the month. You will receive a new calendar at the beginning of each month.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Powered by Optin Forms


  • Janelle Sluys

    I really would like to do this with my 6th graders this year. How much of each ingredient did you buy? Like you said, I want to make sure I have more than enough for the unexpected 🙂 Thanks for sharing…your video helped me visualize it greatly!


      Yay! Glad the video was helpful, we had fun making it.

      How many students do you have? I had 18, and 2 gallons of milk, 2 boxes of salt, one bag of sugar, and 2 bottles of vanilla were plenty. Kids had brought in more than that because we overestimated on purpose, but that’s all we ended up using. For the ice, our cafeteria let us have it from their big ice machine, or you could bring in a cooler with a few bags of ice. You’ll also need one large and one small Ziplock bag for each student, as well as, cups and spoons. I didn’t always plan ahead enough (lol) but when I did, I would ask students to bring in the supplies.


    • Carol

      We had an in school field trip with Atlanta science center. They did this as the very first experiment. They followed basically the same recipe, they used half and half instead of milk. Each group put it in a metal mixing bowl with a towel over it while they conducted various physical science experiments. An hour later we had awesome chocolate ice cream.

  • McKenzee

    I am planning to do this with my students this week!! 🙂 I have 24 students in my class. Did you have two students share one bag of ice cream? I am planning to have each of mine make their own. Do you think the amount of ingredients you had your students bring would be enough for my class?


      Yes! I had everyone make their own bag. Yes, the ingredient list should work for 24. The big thing you don’t want to be short on is milk… Everyone needs 1 cup. So 2 gallons should work for you. Have fun!!

  • Stdh

    Do you know if almond or coconut milk would work instead of a dairy based milk?


      My son has been begging me to make ice cream again, so we just tried it with almond milk for you since we had some in the fridge! It’s not as creamy as regular ice cream, but it tastes good. It would definitely be a good alternative for students who can’t have dairy, and the same science applies. I imagine coconut milk would work as well, but I haven’t tried it.

  • akiko

    i’ve done this many times with my gr 2s and gr 3s as part of our nutrition unit. instead of shaking the bag, i put it in a large (empty of course) coffee tin, close the lid and have the kids go outside and roll it around on the grass (or kick it around gently). it gets them outside and they love it!
    i buy mini ice cream cones and we scoop them and enjoy! no dishes!

  • Giselle

    Hi! What’s the science explanation for this experiment?

  • i like ice cream.but it difficult to do it.i will follow your step.thank for sharing this article.

  • I see you don’t monetize your site, don’t
    waste your traffic, you can earn extra cash every month because you’ve got hi quality content.
    If you want to know how to make extra bucks, search for: Ercannou’s essential tools best adsense

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *