Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

Basic Activity Info

Activity Type: 

  • Nutrition
Age Group: 
6-9 yrs
9-12 yrs
Time Requirement: 

Group Size: 

  • Large Group
  • Medium Group
  • Small Group

Play Area: 

  • Classroom (small indoor space)

Learn how to make homemade ice cream and discuss the use of the ingredients used. 


2 Medium size re-sealable plastic freezer bags
1 Gallon-size re-sealable plastic freezer bag
Pint sized bags
Gloves or towel to protect fingers
2 Cups heavy whipping cream
2 Cups half-and-half cream
1/2 Cup white sugar
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Bag crushed ice
4 Cups coarse salt

Set Up: 

Have ingredients and materials ready for the activity.

Step by Step: 
  1. In a pitcher or large measuring cup, stir together the whipping cream, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla extract until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour about 1/2 cup of mixture into a pint-size plastic bag and seal carefully, squeezing out extra air. Place each sealed bag into a second pint-size bag, again squeezing out extra air. Seal carefully.
  3. Fill each plastic bag about halfway with ice and add 1/2 cup coarse salt. Place one sealed small bag into the large bag, squeeze out most of the air, and seal the large bag.
  4. Wear mittens or thick gloves, or wrap the bag in a towel to protect hands against the extreme cold. Shake and massage the bag for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens into ice cream. Add more salt and ice to the outer bag if ice cream hasn't formed after 10 minutes of continuous motion.
  5. Remove the outer pint-size bag before you open the inner bag so you don't get any of the salty ice on your ice cream!
  6. Enjoy!

Food Talks

  • Ask students what they think about this experiment.
  • Would they try and make it at home over the summer holidays?
  • What does the salt do? (Just like we use salt on icy roads in the winter, salt mixed with ice in this case also causes the ice to melt.)
  • Who invented ice cream? (Legend has it that the Roman emperor, Nero, discovered ice cream. Runners brought snow from the mountains to make the first ice cream. In 1846, Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn and ice cream surged in popularity. Then, in 1904, ice cream cones were invented at the St. Louis World Exposition. An ice cream vendor ran out of dishes and improvised by rolling up some waffles to make cones.)
  • Try this Brain "Freezer". A group of children went to Holman's Dairy to buy ice cream cones. Each child bought a double scoop cone with two flavors of ice cream. None of the children chose the same combination of flavors. Holman's Dairy has nine different flavors of ice cream: Vanilla, Maple, Chocolate, Toffee, Raspberry, Strawberry, Jamocha, Nutcracker, and Almond. How many children are there?
Safety Considerations: 

Ensure you are using a glove or towel to shake the ice cream bag.
Have another snack available for those who are lactose intolerant. 


If you have a small group, each participant could make their own ice cream.

Adaptations (General): 

Try to ensure that all participants are included and actively involved in the discussion. Provide additional support to those who may need assistance with the process of making homemade ice cream.


YMCA of Greater Toronto, Durham Region