For Parents

For Parents

Stacking Ice Cream

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** Our research group has not accepted any monetary incentives for our recommendations

Whether it’s the delicious treat or the toy variety, ice cream is a hit with almost every kid. It also lends itself to a variety of play ideas for different levels and many wonderful language learning opportunities (listed in italics).

Simple play:

  • You stack the ice cream and have your child pull the scoops off the top one at a time. (It came off.)
  • You nest the ice cream into a tall stack and have your child knock it down. (The ice cream fell down.)


Combination play:

  • Stack the ice cream on top of each other until it’s a tall tower. Switch the scoops between your cone and your child’s cone. (We’re switching the ice cream.)
  • Drop the scoops into a big bowl, stir them around with a big spoon, and then dump them out. (It’s in. We’re stirring the ice cream. The ice cream came out.)


Pre- Symbolic play:

  • Build the ice cream cones and pretend to take a big lick. Try each other’s cones and decide which flavor tastes the best. (You licked my cone. The ice cream is yummy!)
  • Feed the ice cream to a puppet or have the puppet sneak over and steal a scoop off the top. (The dog is hungry. He’s eating ice cream. He ate it all!)
  • Pretend to cook the ice cream in a toy oven (or box)! (The ice cream is cold. It’s in the microwave. It’s cooking. It’s getting hot. Uh oh, the ice cream melted!)


Advanced play:

  • Pretend to have an ice cream store. Come in and request different flavor combinations or scoop amounts from your child. Then switch roles and have your child practice ordering.
  • Create an imaginary birthday party with the ice cream as the dessert. Make birthday hats out of paper, sing Happy Birthday, and dig in!
  • Who says the scoops have to be ice cream? Turn them upside down and pretend they are boats or planes. Put a little person or animal figure in the hole and have them sail down a river or fly through the air.