Authors as Published

Elena Serrano, Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. (

Age   Children 7-10X Children 11-14 X Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 8.6
Health 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 6.2, 7.2, 7.3
Math 3.14, 4.12, 5.3, 5.11, 6.10, 7.3
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Making homemade soft drinks

Success Indicators: As a result of this activity, children will be able to:

  • describe how to make a healthy, easy, and low-cost soft drink
  • compare and contrast a homemade fizzy drink with store-bought soda

Life Skills: Decision-making, Teamwork, Collaboration

Preparation Time: Assemble supplies and set up stations.


  • MyPlate handout
  • A few bottles of carbonated water
  • Variety of fruit juices (orange, lemon, mango, peach, pineapple, grapefruit)
  • Pitchers or bottles for each station to make soda
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing spoons
  • Plastic cups
  • Empty containers from popular soft drinks
  • Paper
  • Task cards

Optional Handouts:

  • Be a Drink Detective (VCE Publication 348-242)


  1. Set up stations for making homemade soda with “task cards” on each table. Each table should use different types of fruit juice or juice concentrate.
  2. In front of the class, demonstrate how to make a regular soft drink by mixing 10 teaspoons of sugar in a large glass of carbonated water. You can talk about adding preservatives, caffeine, and flavorings like lemon juice.
  3. Assign students to groups of four or five to work at each station.
  4. Each group is asked to try to formulate a healthy fizzy drink that they would like to drink at home. They will be asked to first follow the recipe, then to consider one alteration to the recipe, documenting any changes on a piece of paper.
  5. Allow the groups to visit the different stations to try all of the varieties of homemade soft drinks.
  6. After each child has tried the different fizzy drinks, talk about how the drinks fit into a healthy diet drink.
  7. Have the class vote for the drink they liked the most by putting a small piece of paper on the table at the station holding their favorite drink.
  8. Count the votes and write them on the chalkboard. Talk about some of the reasons they voted the way they did. Also, what are other concoctions they would like to try? What about mixing two different fruit juices together with carbonated water?
  9. Using the Nutrition Facts Label, calculate as a group the number of teaspoons of sugar in the homemade fizzy drink. Compare it to the Nutrition Facts found on store bought soft drinks.
  10. Finally, using the food labels and receipts from the club soda and juices, calculate as a group the cost of the homemade soft drinks. Compare the price to soft drinks that are pre-packaged.
  11. Ask the students to share what they learned with their families.


  • Ensure that each child participates in making and trying the homemade drinks.
  • Hand out Be a Drink Detective to students to take home.

Other Ideas:

  • Make homemade smoothies as another way to have a healthy drink.
  • Show a picture of tooth decay, the biggest consequence of drinking a lot of soda.


  • Your task is to try to formulate a healthy, low-cost soft drink that you would like to drink at home.
  • First, mix one-half carbonated water with 100% fruit juice in the pitcher.
  • Carefully pour a little bit into enough cups for each person in your group to taste.
  • What do you like about it? What could you improve?
  • Modify the recipe, if you would like—either by adding more fruit juice or more carbonated water. Measure out any additions and write them down on a piece of paper. Mix well.
  • Pour carefully into cups for your group and the rest of the class to try.


  • What did you like about this exercise? Dislike?
  • What surprised you about this activity?


  • Which homemade drink did you like the most? Why?
  • If you were to make this at home, how would you make it? Why?
  • What did you think about the healthy homemade version of soda? How did it compare to the soda you buy pre-packaged at the store in terms of taste? Nutrition? Cost?
  • What are some reasons that homemade soda may taste different? What other ingredients do soft drinks contain?
  • How does homemade soda fit into a healthy diet? Pre-packaged soda?
  • Where does your regular soda fit in a healthy diet? Why?


  • How will you think about soft drinks now that you know what goes in them?
  • How will your drink choices be different?
  • In what other activities is it important for you to be able to follow instructions? Measure things?


  • What will you tell your friends about this activity and recipe?
Healthy, homemade fizzy drinks can fit into a healthy diet.
Regular soft drinks should only be drunk every now and then.


This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.  
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, disability, or political beliefs.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

December 14, 2011