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Ice Cream in a Bag - A Fun Phonemic Awareness Activity for Speech Therapy

Updated: Jun 10

Here's a great speech therapy idea: Make "ice cream in a bag" while working on early literacy skills like phonemic awareness and CVC words

I have a first grader on my caseload who needs help with phonemic awareness and decoding/encoding CVC words in speech therapy. (See this blog post, with a free infographic, to learn more about phonological and phonemic awareness and the differences between them)

We recently had a fun session making “ice cream in a bag.” It requires surprisingly little in the way of materials and time, and it makes ice cream that actually tastes good. Even better - we were still able to work on his early literacy goals!


Here is how we made the ice cream:

Materials you’ll need to make the “ice cream in a bag”:

  • 1/2 cup half and half

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp sugar

  • 3 cups ice

  • 1/3 cup kosher or rock salt

  • 1 gallon-sized, sealable plastic bag

  • 1 quart-sized, sealable plastic bag

  • Mittens (we used clean socks on our hands!)

  • Your kiddo’s favorite toppings (sprinkles, chocolate sauce, strawberries, etc.)

Steps to make it:

  1. Pour the ice and salt into your gallon-sized bag and set aside.

  2. In your quart-sized bag, mix half and half, vanilla, and sugar together. Make sure to seal the bag tightly!

  3. Place the quart-sized bag inside the gallon-sized bag and seal it tightly.

  4. Put your mittens (or socks!) on your hands and shake the bag vigorously for about 5 minutes until your milk is almost solid. Turn-taking is recommended - your hands will get cold!

  5. Place your freshly-made ice cream in a bowl, add your toppings, and enjoy!


To make this into a phonemic awareness activity, and to target my student’s decoding and encoding of CVC words, we wrote out lists for “Things We Need” and “How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag”, which provided many opportunities to write and then read high-frequency words and CVC words. I wrote in the other words, which made it feel collaborative and allowed me to provide the structure for the lists.

For example, on a sheet of paper, I wrote “Things We Need” as the title, and my student wrote the numbers 1-9 down the side. Since the first item we needed was a half cup of half and half, I assisted my student in writing, “A HAF CUP (I wrote “of”) HAF AND (he knew this high-frequency word) HAF”. I wrote the second item we needed (1/4 teaspoon of vanilla) since I didn’t expect him to be able to write these words, although I did encourage him to write the “T” before spoon for “teaspoon”. I modified the language for the materials and steps to be as simple as possible. For example, the “1 gallon-sized, sealable bag” was modified to “1 BIG BAG”.

After we had created both lists, I then encouraged my student to read back the words he had written as we followed the steps to make the ice cream.

Here are the CVC words we focused on - I had my student do his best to both spell and decode these words:

  • bag

  • big

  • haf (for half and half)

  • mix

  • cup

  • sok (sock)

Side note, The University of Florida Literacy Institute has some great free apps that can be modified to target the exact level your student is at. Try the virtual blending board - it's pretty cool!

phonemic awareness activity virtual blending board

Back to our activity -- For phonological awareness, we counted the number of words in the phrase “ice cream in a bag” and for phonemic awareness we listened for initial/final consonants and medial vowels as we wrote. My student then decoded the CVC words on out lists as we worked through thev recipe. We also noticed that "ice cream" and "I scream" sound the same, but mean two totally different things!

And what could be a better payoff for hard work than a cup of delicious, freshly made ice cream? Don’t forget the sprinkles!

A child eating ice cream as part of a speech therapy activity


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Have you heard? StoryWhys now offers the Speech and Spell series of resources. I am always trying to tie articulation work and spelling together in my therapy and I've never found any good resources out there to help me do this. So I made my own! Many more speech sounds and spelling rules to come. They'll be 50% off for 48 hrs when new resources are added to the StoryWhys store. Find them here.

Did you know book companions can be among the best speech therapy materials for elementary students? Explore all of the StoryWhys book companions for speech therapy in my store. You'll find comprehensive book companions that target many different language skills or Spotlight Series book companions that focus on one type of skill, all using high-quality, beloved storybooks.

And get your FREE, 71-page book companion for speech therapy on the Special Offers page.


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