This is a fun, easy and surprisingly very educational activity that you can do at home with your little chefs! It is so easy in fact, that they will barely need your help. We do it at our CEFA Early Learning schools for our little chefs program, and I can’t decide if they like making it or eating it more. All you need is fruit, water and a popsicle mold.

The best part is that this is also a great activity to teach your child how to eat healthy.

Best Ages for This Activity

6 months to five years

How to Make It

Ingredients (for two portions)

  • Popsicle molds (alternatively, use small cups that you can freeze and popsicle sticks)
  • 2 lemons (to make homemade lemonade)
  • 3 drops of Stevia (you can add a few more drops to your liking). I chose Stevia because it is a natural sweetener which I consider better than sugar, but you can use white sugar if you prefer
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 6 strawberries
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 peach
  • 1 banana

You Will Also Need

  • A butter knife or plastic knife for your child to safely cut the fruit
  • A lemon juicer sturdy enough for your child to use. If you don’t have one, squeeze the lemon with your hands. If you make a lot of lemonade or freshly squeezed orange juice (an essential ingredient for mimosas), you might want to invest in every child’s dream (and my personal favorite) – a citrus press.

Let’s Get Started!

  • Invite your child to make homemade popsicles
  • Wash the fruit together (I always mean for your child to do most of it, so they get as many learning opportunities out of one activity as possible).
  • Cut the fruit (bananas, strawberries, kiwis) into slices, and then again onto smaller pieces if it is a large fruit like a peach. You can use whatever fruits you and your child like, and even try different fruit mixes each time you make them. What is important here is that your child cut the fruit into slices. It is a valuable learning experience (it is part of the life skills taught by the Montessori program, as well as the CEFA Early Learning schools program), and also a perfect way to practice fine motor skills. Even a six-month-old can cut a banana. You can help with the harder or more difficult fruit (like the peach) if your child is very young.
  • Place the fruit, one by one, in the popsicle molds (for example, your child can figure out how to divide the slices of strawberry equally amongst six popsicle molds, learning essential math concepts, then doing the same with the rest of the fruit). If your child has a difficult time dividing the fruit into six piles that look to be about the same quantity, try one to one correspondence instead (“one blueberry in this mold, one blueberry in this mold, one blueberry in this mold”, etc.) and start over when you have filled all six molds, with another blueberry in each (‘one more blueberry in this mold”, etc.) and then again until you run out of blueberries, then do the same with the rest of the fruit. These seem simple concepts to an adult, but for your child you are providing an opportunity to develop a very strong mathematical foundation that they will need before moving on to more complex math equations (adding, multiplying, matching, sorting, and more). Take your time with this step, knowing that your child is learning more than how to make fruit popsicles.
  • Once all the fruit is in the popsicle molds, make the lemonade:
    • Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons onto 1½ cups of water, add in a few drops of Stevia to your liking to sweeten it, taste it and add more lemon or more water according to yours and your child’s preferences.
  • Your child can pour the lemonade into the popsicle molds filled with fruit, leaving a little space for the water to expand as it freezes (your child can leave “one finger” of space – their finger not yours). You don’t have to use lemonade, you can use diluted apple juice, freshly squeezed orange juice, or even stevia-sweetened water.
  • Your child can then carefully place the lids of the popsicle molds on each mold (you can hold the mold while they do it), and take the molds to the freezer, being careful to ensure that the molds are straight and do not spill. Again, these are important skills for your child to learn, so be patient while they figure it out. You can help by making a little space on a freezer shelf ahead of time.
  • Now comes the hardest part: waiting until the popsicles are ready. They will take about 6 hours. You can help your child set a timer, which will again work on the mathematical concepts of time measurement.
  • The last thing to do is clean up, which your child should absolutely be involved in. Teach them what goes in the compost bin, what goes in the garbage, how to wipe the table, how to wash the remaining dishes or place them in the dishwasher so they get properly washed. Again, all important life skills. The best part is that while you clean up together, you can keep an eye on the timer and see how much time elapses. This is fascinating for children!
  • Once they are ready, your child can proudly serve the popsicles they made to the whole family! What a wonderful way to contribute.

Learning Opportunities

I love helping children learn to cook because it is a great life skill and an incredible way to contribute, to give of yourself to others, to do something for someone other than yourself, which children both love doing and need to do. Children will learn S.T.E.M. while measuring, dividing, learning to cut into equal slices, etc. This recipe also has a great amount of fine motor skills, a precursor to writing. Following directions also teaches the reading and S.T.E.M..

Doing this activity together also is a great opportunity for you and your child to connect. You can share life stories, ask them about them, their plans, and get closer. You can ask, for example:

  • Who are you preparing popsicles for?
  • How many popsicles will we need then?
  • What is your favorite fruit? What is theirs?
  • What other fruit combinations do you want to try next time?
  • What other juice would you like to try next time instead of lemonade?
  • What should we do with the fruit that doesn’t fit in the popsicle molds?
  • Do you remember a time when we had popsicles as a family? What did you like about it? (you can also share your favorite popsicle family time from when you were a child)
  • Who else likes popsicles? (grandma? Uncle? Friends from school?)

Distributing the popsicles equally amongst all family members is also 1 to 1 correspondence – a math concept. It also works on the math concepts of estimating quantities, measuring, division, and many others.

Cutting the fruit, taking the molds to the freezer, cleaning the workspace and the dishes are essential life skills. Learning to compost and recycle what is left teaches your child to care for the environment and contribute. Cooking is also an important life skill and sharing what they cooked with the rest of the family teaches your child the habit of contribution and thinking of others.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Dramatic Arts: set up an ice cream truck, store or stand (you can make it out of cardboard if you wish, and paint it with your child) to “sell” the popsicles.

CEFA tip: Remember to let your child do as much of the process as they are capable of.

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