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Ice Cream in a Bag and Early Literacy Activities

Updated: Feb 21

Make "ice cream in a bag" while working on phonological awareness and CVC words

I have a first grader on my caseload who needs help with phonological awareness and decoding/encoding CVC words. (See this blog post to learn more about phonological awareness)

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 AND worked on phonological awareness, decoding, and encoding all at the same time:

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 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:

  • bag

  • big

  • haf (for half and half)

  • mix

  • cup

  • sok (sock)

For phonological awareness, we counted the number of words in the phrase “ice cream in a bag” and listened for initial/final consonants and medial vowels as we wrote. 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!

Want more ideas like this to use in your speech and language therapy sessions? Read my blog and subscribe to get the latest posts.

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