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!)
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.
The ingredients and materials to make the ice cream are simple:
- whole milk
- 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.
Shake 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!
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.