How to Make Snow Cones With Snow: A Fun Kids Project

Do your kids love eating snow?

Do you want an easy way to turn snow into a delicious winter treat?

Make your own flavored snowballs at home!

Many people think of snow cones or shaved ice as summer fare, but they’re even better when you can make them out of real snow in the wintertime.

In this article I’ll show you and your kids how to make backyard snow cones, a flavored snowball snack that’s totally chillicious.

How to make backyard snow cones with your kids, a flavored snowball snack from real snow or the ice in your freezer that's totally chillicious.

Why Make Flavored Snowballs?

Snow is fun… and there’s so much you can do with it. You can make snow forts, have snowball fights and build snowmen. Snow can also be a unique yummy treat you can make as a family. Besides, why wait until summer to indulge in a delicious, icy delight when it’s right outside your door!

If you live in a warm, snow-free climate, don’t worry. You can make flavored snowball treats too! Just use crushed ice instead of snow.

Snowballs: A Dessert With a History

There are many kinds of flavored snow-like desserts, including snow cones, snowballs and Italian ices. Are you wondering how to understand the differences among them all? Check out this great article on the colorful history of shaved ice.

snowcone and italian ice

A snow cone is crushed ice with lots of syrup, while Italian ices have the flavor mixed into the ice for a different texture and taste. Image source: iStockPhoto.

In the summertime in the US, you can often buy flavored snow cones and similar treats at fairs and from push carts. They come in a variety of flavors and are often brightly (and artificially) colored.

They also have a whole range of cousins around the globe. There’s no doubt that flavored ices are a popular treat no matter where you live!

But did you know that the original flavored treats were made thousands of years ago? In fact, they date back to ancient Rome and imperial Japan. Back in those days, folks brought mountain snow down to the people below and flavored it as a sweet and special indulgence.

The more modern take on flavored chilly treats dates to the American Industrial Revolution in the 1850s, when ice first became commercially available. Children would get ice scrapings from ice blocks. Then their parents would make syrups to flavor the ice. And voilà—you had flavored snow cones!

child eating snow

Flavored snow is fun and delicious!

It’s easy to make your own version of the flavored ice cone. All you need is freshly fallen snow and some syrup or other topping. If you don’t have snow, you can substitute crushed ice. It’s crunchier, but still delicious!

You Will Need

  • Freshly fallen snow or crushed ice
  • Blender, if using crushed ice
  • Syrup: maple, chocolate, berry, etc.
  • Ingredients to make your own syrup (optional): Maple: sugar, water and maple extract; Strawberry: strawberries and sugar; Chocolate: sugar, cocoa powder, water, salt and vanilla; Berry: frozen berries, sugar
  • Bowls
  • Spoons
  • Ice cream cones (optional)
  • Additional toppings: raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. (optional)

Preparation Time

5 minutes to gather equipment and snow

Activity time

15 minutes to make and eat your treats


Your kitchen

It’s very simple to make your own snow treats. Let your kids experiment with different flavors, and remember to have fun!

#1: Gather Your Snow

The first step to make flavored snowballs is to gather the main ingredient—snow!

It’s best to use freshly fallen snow if you’re going to eat it. That way you’ll know that it’s clean.

Make sure you don’t collect snow under a tree or someplace where debris could easily fall and spoil your treat. Also, don’t dig deeply into the snow or you could scoop up dirt; old, dirty snow; and other yucky stuff.

And, of course, we should always remember Mom’s advice: Don’t eat yellow snow!

I recommend that you put large metal bowls outside as the snow is falling, so you can collect the snow before it even touches the ground. That way you know it’s clean and fresh.

In addition, the chilled metal bowls keep the snow from melting too quickly.

snow in metal bowl

We put some metal bowls outside and let the falling snow fill them up.

When you bring the snow inside, be sure that you and your kids check out the crystal patterns of individual snowflakes. They are so beautiful!

Click here to see some stunning pictures of snowflakes close up.

If you live in a place where little or no snow falls, you can use crushed ice for your treat instead. Put ice in a blender and crush it as finely as you can.

Note: younger kids will need help with this step.

Crushed ice will result in a slightly crunchier snowball than those made with actual snow. On the plus side, this flavored snowball will take longer to melt once the syrup has been added.

#2: Divvy Up the Snow

You can put the snow into individual bowls to eat by the spoonful or use ice cream cones for variety.

If you decide to put the snow in cones, be sure to pack it down a bit. Otherwise it melts too quickly once you add the syrup.

child with cone

My kids tried their snowballs in bowls and in cones. My 1-year-old preferred the cone without the snow.

Remember, when you use a bowl, if your snow melts quickly, it’s not a big deal. You can always get a refill. If the snow melts quickly when you use a cone, the cone quickly gets mushy and isn’t very nice to hold or eat.

#3: Add the Syrup

You can use any syrup you want to flavor your backyard snow cones. Some good homemade options are maple, strawberry or chocolate syrup.

You can find ready-made syrups in the grocery store or make them as a family.

making berry syrup

My 12-year-old made syrup out of berries and a little bit of sugar.

You can also make easy berry syrup out of frozen berries heated on the stovetop with just a little sugar added. If you make your syrup on the stovetop, be sure to give it time to cool before adding it to your snowball. Otherwise your snowball will immediately melt!

Note: Any time children use a stove, adults should be on hand to supervise.

This is a great time to get creative and mix flavors together. Have everyone make mini-snowballs and try a different syrup combination on each of them. Then, do a taste test to see which flavor combo is the best.

pouring syrup on snow

We experimented to see which syrup caused the snow to melt the fastest. The maple syrup was the winner for speediest melter!

Be sure to eat some snow syrup-free as well. It’s neat to taste the snow on its own. In fact, sometimes my kids chose to eat the snow and skipped the syrup entirely!

Make a Mini–Snow Sculpture

This may be the only time your kids get permission to play with their food. Go ahead and mold it into shapes before eating it. It’s only snow.

Give each of your kids a plate along with a bowl of snow so they have a flat sculpting surface. Take a plate for yourself and play along.

You can make a mini–snow sculpture of a snow person, fort, animal, funny face or anything that strikes your fancy. You can each pick a different idea or all work on the same type of sculpture and have a contest for funniest, silliest or largest ones.

Add raisins, nuts or other food items to decorate your mini–snow sculpture. You probably don’t want to use syrup on this treat. Then eat up!

Note: You may want to do this project in a cool area of your home. If it’s winter and freezing outside and your house is warm and toasty, Frosty the Snowman may melt before you get a chance to finish building him.

The experience of working as a family, creating flavored snowballs from what nature provides in your own backyard, makes more than just good treats, it makes great memories.

Some Final Thoughts

Eating snow is a simple indulgence that’s fun for both parents and children.

I grew up in New Hampshire, where we had plenty of snow every winter. For me, eating snow drizzled with maple syrup brings back great childhood memories.

What do you think? How will you make your backyard snow cones? With berry syrup? As a sculpture? In a cone? Let me know in the comments below. If you want, include a picture. I’d love to see how creative you and your kids get!

Images from iStockPhoto.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Holly Chessman

Holly (@HollyChessman) is the co-founder of bozmyn, the secure, private, family-friendly social sharing site that lets you share what you want with who you want – and only who you want. Other posts by »

  • Eric Dingler

    Love the idea of adding the Syrup. We are going to experiment with Jello sprinkled on and mixed in the snow. Also, 8 cups of snow, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and touch of vanilla makes delicious snow ice cream. Thanks for the idea about the syrups.

  • Jennifer Ballard

    Alas, there’s no snow where we live, so I’m glad you included the crushed ice alternative. It was interesting to learn that this originated in Japan. When I lived there, I enjoyed some interesting flavors: one was with cream and sweet beans, another was a bright green melon flavoring (like Midori without the alcohol). Both = delicious! Can’t wait to try your berry syrup version with the boys. Thanks, Holly!

  • Holly Chessman

    Ooo – how cool. I love your ideas for new recipes. I’ll have to try them out! My kids are obsessed with eating snow. There’s something very immediately gratifying about collecting the snow and making the easy creations. And of course they’re yummy too!

  • Holly Chessman

    Yum! I love green bean and red bean ice cream. I bet the taste was similar. Enjoy making your icy creations!

  • Snowlet

    I totally second condensed milk– it was a favorite Japanese treat with strawberry syrup!

  • Holly Chessman

    Delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Karen Cohen

    We have used heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla with our snow, and it’s amazing to see how the cream thickens and turns to ice cream. But the only syrups we’ve tried with it are maple and honey, so we are looking forward to taking your suggestion of a berry syrup, especially homemade.

Check out the Parenting Adventures podcast with Michael Stelzner
How to Have an Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt With Your Kids
How to Create Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling In Your Home
How to Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt, Minecraft Style
How to Make Slime: 5 Easy Recipes
How to Entertain Your Kids for Hours With Adventure Tubs