Are there young people who do not like ice cream? Probably, but for the most part ice cream is a favored treat among young people from all areas of the globe. You can use this natural affinity for the frozen dairy product to liven up your ESL class with some activities centered around the chilly treat! Following are reading, writing, listening and speaking activities that involve the shiveringly good snack, ice cream.
How to Proceed
A Rainbow of Flavors
If your students like ice cream as much as most young people do, this first activity will energize and excite them. Working together as a class or in groups of four to five students, ask your class to brainstorm as many ice cream flavors as they can. They can include flavors for sale in your geographical region as well as ice cream flavors your students may only be able to find in their home countries. Once the list is as long as your class can make it, challenge students to break the list into different categories. Each category should be distinct from every other category, and there should be enough categories so that every flavor is included in one and only one category. Your students may choose to work with fruity flavors, candy flavors, flavors with nothing in them and flavors with things in them (chocolate chips, for example). Allow your students to be creative in their categorizations. Then have them continue to work in groups to define each category and write a short description of that category. Most likely, they will find flavors that do not fit easily into one category or another, or they may find others that may fit into more than one category. If so, have your students note and explain the exceptions to their categorization schemes.
Now that your class has seen what manufactures have to offer, challenge each person to come up with some inventive flavors of his own! If he could make his own ice cream flavor, what would it be? Ask each person to think of at least five new ice cream flavors that he would like to see made available and then make sure each of the flavors has a unique name. Then each person should choose one flavor and present it to the class trying to convince the class that his idea is the best new ice cream flavor possibility. After everyone has presented his new flavors, ask the class to vote for the one new ice cream they would like to see manufactured. If you like, have each person decorate an ice cream scoop template for his original ice cream flavor and then display those scoops stacked on one another on the wall. Make a simple brown paper triangle to place under the scoops to look like an ice-cream cone, and make sure the winning flavor gets the top position on the cone.
Almost everyone has some memories associated with ice cream. One could be licking an ice-cream cone while walking through a local fair or a large amusement park. Another could be making a gutter sundae with a large group of young people. Still another might be making zip lock bag ice cream in a preschool class. Ask your students to share some memories they have that include or involve ice cream. Do your students have good memories? Do they have any bad memories? If students cannot think of a memory that includes ice cream, is there some dream that they have that could involve ice cream? Ask your students to write a personal narrative that tells their ice cream story. Before writing the stories, remind your students that each story must have a beginning, middle and end. You may also want to review the story elements of setting (where the story happens), character (who is in the story) and plot (the events of the story). After your students write their stories, encourage volunteers to read their stories to the rest of the class.
A Squishable Fun Time
Your students, after all their talking and writing about ice cream, will probably be ready for a chilly snack! You can give them the opportunity to make their own ice cream in class with a zip-lock ice-cream activity. Not only that, you can also challenge your students’ abilities to follow spoken directions as each person makes his chilly treat. Take the zip-lock ice-cream recipe and have all the ingredients and supplies ready for your students. You may want them to work in small groups or individually, so make sure you have enough of each item for your entire class. If you want to test your students’ listening comprehension, read the directions for making the ice cream out loud one step at a time and have your students follow those directions. If you prefer to test their reading comprehension, give each person a copy of the recipe and have him follow the directions to make his own ice cream snack. When you are through with the activity, you can have sundae toppings for your students to put on their creations, if you like. Not only will your students have fun following directions, they will be making a new ice cream memory that will last!
Of course, some or all of these activities may not be appropriate for every ESL class.
Allergy awareness is of utmost importance any time you decide to use food in the classroom as some allergic reactions can be deadly. Make sure you know what if any restrictions your students have on their diets and plan your activities accordingly. With that in mind, encourage your students to have fun with this ice cream unit using their creativity and energy!