Let’s Make a Virtual Pollinator-Free Ice Cream Sundae

It’s not easy, because pollinators make most ice cream sundae ingredients possible in the first place. But you can try!

About the Activity

Pollinators support our food supply and are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat each day, including most of the delicious components of an ice cream sundae. That makes them essential to global food production, but unfortunately, many species of native pollinators are declining at an alarming rate.

This activity is designed to outline just how important pollinators are to the meals and desserts you love.

This activity is part of our 4-H at Home Native Bees Series. See the rest of the activities here.

Grade Level: 2—8
Topic: Environmental Education, Biology, Life Science
Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes

Brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Pheasants Forever, Inc., and Quail Forever, Anna Swerczek; Habitat Education Program Manager

A butterfly pollinating a flower

Activity Steps

  1. Use scissors to cut out the individual sundae ingredients shown on the printout, and lay them all out in front of you.Did you know? One third (one out of three bites, or 33%) of our food needs pollinators to be produced.
  2. Now, choose your favorite ingredients and build your own dream ice cream sundae using the photos.

Did you know? Do you have a sweet tooth? Chocolate plants (cacao) need tiny pollinators called chocolate midges. These pollinators are a type of fly that visits the cacao flowers which grow on the stems of the plant.

  1. After you build your ice cream sundae, use the answer key to remove all ingredients that are made possible by pollinators.Did you know? Animals need pollinators too. Many animals, such as cows, need to eat plants for their food, and some of the plants they eat need pollinators. Dairy cows often eat alfalfa, which is pollinated by bees, and healthy cows use nutrients from their food to produce milk.
  2. After you remove all the ingredients that are made possible by pollinators, the ingredients left are the only items available to eat in a world without pollinators.Did you know? Most fruits that we eat require pollinators to transfer the pollen so that the fruit is formed. Crops like apple, blueberry, pear, and almond need or benefit from pollinators. Some crops like grape, peach, and wheat (used to make flour) have flowers that can pollinate themselves.
  3. Ice cream sundaes aren’t the only delicious food that relies on pollinators. Check out the entire list of pollinated plants so that you can learn about other popular foods made possible by pollinators.Did you know?  Insects are not the only pollinators. Birds, bats, lizards and even lemurs can be pollinators. For example, agave, an important crop in the southwest, is pollinated by bats.

Reflection Questions
Bonus questions to inspire wonder:

  1. Think about other food that you eat. What would your daily diet be like without pollinators?
  2. Do all plants need animal pollinators to make fruits and seeds?
  3. What are some ways you can educate others about the importance of pollinators?
  4. What are some things you can do to make more habitats for pollinators?
  5. Which ingredient in the ice cream activity were you most surprised to learn required the help of pollinators?
lightbulb icon

Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

Explore the everyday world around you. See how native bees make a difference in the foods we eat. These two videos are a great place to start, but also take a closer look outdoors, whether in a local pollinator garden, or in your own backyard:

Ice cream and bees video: https://www.kqed.org/science/1946996/this-bee-gets-punched-by-flowers-for-your-ice-cream

Leafcutter bees video: https://youtu.be/cHJ2nLADy7A

A man pollinating plants in a field

Career Connections

4-H youth explores electrical engineering in rural areas
STEM Careers

If you liked learning about the many foods that bees help to create, you might enjoy a career in STEM. STEM careers are exciting and rewarding, and you can pursue a STEM-related career wherever you live, whether you’re in a city, a rural community, or anywhere in between.

Watch this video and learn what it takes to be a toxicologist from Kimberly Hodge-Bell of Bayer Crop Science.

Shop 4-H Curriculum and Products

Shop4-H.org offers university-backed STEM curriculum, educational kits, products and supplies to expand your knowledge of space, rocketry and more.


Mars Base Camp Kit

Grades: 3-8

Featuring four hands-on activities that can be enjoyed with or without internet access and individually or all together, the challenge teaches kids STEM skills like mechanical engineering, physics, computer science and agriculture.

Family Kit: Includes materials for 1-4 youth.

Educator Kit: Includes materials for 12 youth.

Due to the overwhelming demand of the Mars Base Camp Kit, please allow 3-4 weeks for this item to ship after purchase.

$15.95 | $23.95


Mars Base Camp Rover

Grades: 3-8

Youth will use engineering skills to build a vehicle that can explore the surface of Mars, while participating in the Mars Base Camp Red Planet Odyssey unplugged activity. Each rover comes with assembly instructions and screwdriver. Batteries not included, takes 2 AA batteries.



Inspire Kids to Do STEM Tee

This 4-H STEM-centric tee features icons related to rocketry, chemistry, mathematics, and robotics, and it harnesses the fun and creativity that are central to all STEM project areas, including these and many more!

Offered in adult sizes only.



Aerospace Pin

Once you've completed your Mars Base Camp or Aerospace mission, you've earned the right to display your accomplishment proudly with your 4-H Aerospace pin.

5/8" x 3/4", antiqued finish medal.



Marshmallow Rocket Kit

Grades: Pre-K - 3

In this 4-H Cloverbud activity, youth learn the basics of rockets and astronauts and will build a model rocket out of marshmallows.

Comes with an 8-page activity booklet and an inflatable space shuttle.



Aerospace Curriculum

Grades: 1-12

The Aerospace Adventures curriculum deepens knowledge and understanding of aerospace while youth complete a series of fun, hands-on activities they can complete at home.

Set includes Aerospace Adventures Levels 1-4 plus the Helper's Guide.


Brought to you by:

No endorsement of these supporters' products or services is granted or implied by 4‑H.

Help 4-H Provide Equal #Opportunity4All Kids