Ice Cream Science

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Although this is pretty much a repeat of homemade ice cream that Travis shook up back in March, we had no qualms doing it again on a 95 degree day! The recipe was a fun addition to Travis’s Edible Elements kit from Raddish Kids.

For variation, we decided to make two different flavors this time, turn the project into a blind taste test, too! We poured 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer and 1 tablespoon sugar into each of two small zip-top bags. Then we added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to one and 1/4 teaspoon mint extract to the second.

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We placed both these small bags in a gallon-sized zip-top bag filled with 4 cups ice and 1/2 cup coarse salt. Seal and shake!

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Travis took a few shakes, but then he passed it my way for some mama muscle.

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Get ready, because you may need to shake for as long as 10 minutes. Luckily, by the five-minute mark, our liquid creamer had turned into ice cream. (Note: we used oat milk creamer, and we’re curious to hear if other plant-based milks take less time or more, so please share in the comments!).

During all that shaking, we talked about the science behind what was happening; because salt lowers water’s freezing point, it makes the ice melt. As the ice melts, it absorbs heat from the cream. The cream, conversely, becomes colder. And here’s the important bit: because it’s churned, not just resting still on the ice, tiny ice crystal form. These give you smooth ice cream instead of a big chunk of ice.

All that aside, now it was time for the taste test! I spooned a scoop of each flavor into Travis’s bowl, and he proudly deduced which was which.

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If your child prefers, you can add other toppings, too, like sprinkles, crumbled cookies, or candy. However you flavor it, this project is sure to beat the heat.

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Paint Popsicles

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For a cool toddler art project, today Veronika and I played around with paint popsicles in a few different ways. In retrospect, I would have waited on this activity until she was a little older, since today she really just wanted to eat a popsicle! But we did get in a little art, too.

The night before, freeze two kinds of “popsicles”. I poured tempera paint (in pretty metallic colors) into two popsicle molds, and then filled two more with plain water. Insert the sticks and freeze overnight.

The next morning, we headed out to the patio, already scorching hot!

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We started with the plain ice popsicles, which was when I realized we were going to have a bit of a problem. Veronika spotted the popsicle molds, and wanted a taste! This didn’t matter with the plain water, but I worried what would happen when we got to the paint version.

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Luckily, I was able to divert her attention to the craft: sprinkle a little powdered paint on a piece of poster board or thick paper. Use the ice “popsicle” to turn it into beautiful swirls of paint. She watched for a few minutes before joining in (and I did still need to deter a few licks).

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As a result, I only briefly showed her the “popsicles” made from actual paint. These are similar in concept, except now there’s no need for powdered paint. Simply swirl the icy paint over thick paper. The more it melts, the more paint gets left behind.

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But with her temptation to eat them, I detoured to a version she would be less likely to try to devour. We sprinkled powdered paint onto paper in a container small enough for her to hold in her hands.

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Add ice cubes and show your toddler how to shake it side to side. Again, the ice melts and leaves pretty swirls of color behind.

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As you can guess, this activity was short-lived, but fun nonetheless!

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