Summer is in full swing and finding activities to occupy your kids may be becoming a difficult task. Ice cream is the perfect summer treat. But what is it that goes into that ice cream that makes it taste so good and how can you use it to entertain your kids?

To start off, we have the milk. The most common dairy cow breeds are Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein (these are the cows that are white with black spots!), Ayrshire, and Brown Swiss. These breeds produce the milk that will be used to make ice cream.

The average dairy cow produces 8 gallons of milk each day, each gallon weighs almost 9 pounds! It takes about 12 pounds of milk to produce 1 gallon of ice cream. So how many gallons of ice cream can you get from the average cow each day? That’s right, each cow can give you about 5 ½ gallons of ice cream in a day!

7-21-16agintheclassroomIce cream isn’t all milk though, so what else goes into the sweet treat? Sugar of course! Sugar cane is typically grown in areas with a warmer climate. Here in the US, sugarcane is commercially grown in Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. How do you get the sugar that we are all familiar with from the sugar cane? Well, the stalks are shredded and squeezed to remove the juice. That juice is then boiled and the sugar crystals begin to appear. Once the boiling process is over, the mixture is spun to remove the molasses and leaves the white sugar crystals. Those sugar crystals are then sold commercially as the sugar we all know and love!

We have the milk, we have the sugar, how are we going to flavor our ice cream? Well, for the purposes of our activity, we are going to talk about vanilla. Vanilla beans are most commonly grown in Mexico and Guatemala. The beans come from vine-like plants that can grow up to 30 feet tall! The liquid vanilla extract we find in the grocery store is produced by letting the contents of the vanilla bean infuse into the liquid. Using vanilla extract is much easier than using the bean itself which is why the liquid flavoring has become so popular.

Now that we know what goes into our ice cream, why not make some ourselves? But what if you don’t have an ice cream churn? Not a problem! Grab some plastic bags and some active kids and head outside.

Ice Cream in a Bag:


  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons salt (rock salt works best but table salt will do!)
  • 1 gallon size Ziploc bag, filled ¾ the way with ice
  • 1 quart size Ziploc bag


  1. Put the milk, vanilla, and sugar into the quart size bag (you may want to double bag the mixture). Shake until the ingredients are well mixed.
  2. Pour salt over the ice in the gallon size bag.
  3. Put the smaller bag inside the larger bag and close it.
  4. Send the kids out the yard to toss the bag back and forth or to shake it for about 10 minutes.
  5. Once the liquid has thickened, take the smaller bag out, open it up, and enjoy!

Diesburg_Amanda_IL Corn intern 2x3 16

Amanda Diesburg
Ag in the Classroom Intern
IL Corn

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