The scoop on ice cream

7th June 2013 at 01:00


Chill factors

Ice cream is a firm favourite among children. But it can also present some unexpected mathematical challenges. One of the most popular ice-cream activities focuses on data collection, with students creating pictograms and graphs to represent the favourite flavour of the class.

Make a simple questionnaire: as well as which flavours are preferred, ask which are most disliked among students. Comparison of the results can offer opportunities for interesting discussion.

Investigate whether children could sell ice cream at the school fair or sports day as part of an enterprise project. Ask students to use the data gathered to see if they could make a profit. How much would they need to sell the ice cream for? Would they choose cones or tubs? Which flavours would they sell? Would they make the ice cream themselves or buy it from a local supplier?

Or perhaps set a question: how many different, two-scoop ice creams can be made? Give them six flavours and let them work out the combinations. These problem-solving activities can be differentiated according to ability and age.


Putting on your sundae best

Ice cream, so they say in The Muppets, is the second finest gift a person can receive - after children. You could debate this in the next staff meeting. Or you could turn instead to another children's television favourite: Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch. With a penchant for ice cream topped with delicious chocolate syrup, the more savoury spinach and pickle, and even sauerkraut, marshmallows and cherry, Oscar is the master of inventive ice-cream sundaes.

Give your students free rein to create the concoctions of their choice. What kind of sundae would a monster, a princess or a minibeast enjoy? Ask them to think of a name for their ice cream and then select ingredients from a list that might even win the approval of Oscar the Grouch.

Then it's time to get writing. Ask the children to consider the key features of instructional writing. How are instructions laid out and why do we have them? Who will be making their sundaes? Differentiated worksheets could offer prompts for those who need them (bit.lyIceCreamSundaeWriting).

Why not get students to share their invention with the rest of the class? You could try making the sundaes - or settle instead for a classroom display.


Got it licked

We all know people for whom the phrase "when in Rome" was invented. They are usually the ones trying to familiarise themselves with the local language without a phrase book, mistaking bonjour for au revoir or turning a dinner order into a mime act.

Your students can take the lead on trips abroad with a lesson in transactional language (bit.lyCafeRolePlay). Set up a role-play activity and ask them to imagine that they are in a cafe in France. It is bright and sunny outside, the weather is warm and an ice cream would be perfect.

Working in pairs, with one student assuming the role of a waiter and the other a customer, children can have fun as they practise the art of interacting abroad. Help them to understand why "Je voudrais une glace au caramel" is infinitely preferable to "Je voudrais une glace au fromage" (I would like a cheese ice cream).

Mischief-makers might order all sorts of things, but make sure that when the waiter says "soixante-quatre euros", the customer is paying for more than just four ice creams.


- Students improve their reading comprehension while learning how to make ice cream in C Beach's activity. bit.lyIcecreamComprehension

- Form ice cream without a freezer in a lesson from TESConnect partner Science Museum Learning. bit.lyIceCreamActivity

- Children use pantobabe's differentiated tally charts to collect information about their peers' favourite ice-cream flavours. bit.lyIceCreamTally

What Else

- Get students to practise German by asking for drinks, snacks and ice creams.bit.lyEinBesuchimCafe

- Have fun with times tables and race to make the largest ice cream in's entertaining game. bit.lySundaeTimes

- Try this simple matching activity, where capital letters are the cones and lower-case letters are scoops of ice cream. bit.lyMatchUpActivity.

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