Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Shirley Temple popsicle

Today’s Shirley Temple popsicle recipe is a cool treat for summer, but also a great way to get kids busy in the kitchen cooking and developing skills. We’ve shared a ton of cooking with kids recipes, and this 7up popsicle recipe is even better because its an alerting sensory food that can be a great sensory tool for this time of year.

Shirley temple popsicles are a sensory food. Use lemon lime popsicle treats to wake up the mouth!

Shirley Temple Recipe

  I wanted to share a sweet treat with you  today that my kids ( and the neighborhood kids) love. Who doesn’t love Shirley Temples? These are in popsicle form and are oh so good. I hope you enjoy!   

When I was a little girl, there was a seafood restaurant in the town we lived in called Neptune’s Galley. I have no idea if that restaurant is still in business or not, but I remember it vividly. There was a huge statue of Neptune on the roof of the building and it was dark and nautical on the inside. I have to admit, I do not remember the food that was served there.

I remember first being introduced to Shirley Temple’s!

At the time, my favorite movie just happened to be Shirley Temple in The Little Princess. And my daddy knew that and ordered me a Shirley Temple to drink…and the rest is history.

I think I requested that drink at every restaurant  we ate in for the next five years after that!

In case you didn’t know, a Shirley temple drink is a kids’ drink that has 7up, Sprite, or other cool and refreshing fizzy drink. You add a touch of cherry, and maybe another fruit juice, and you’ve got yourself a kid-friendly drink that is a huge hit.

Therapy Benefits to Make these Popsicles

Not only are these popsicles a fun treat, there are also benefits to getting kids involved in the actual preparation process.

Pour and Scooping Activity- The best thing about making a Shirley temple drink with kids is that it’s an easy recipe. There are only a few ingredients, but children can pour and scoop the food items, working on so many fine motor skills. By pouring and scooping the ingredients, you address bilateral coordination, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, strength, graded motor control, motor planning, and much more.

Fine Motor Skills- We’ve covered the benefits of fine motor development during cooking in the past, and this is a great starter recipe to try with kids…they get a huge reward in the end- a refreshing Shirly Temple popsicle!

Executive Functioning Skills– Another benefit to making this Shirley Temple recipe is to add executive functioning skills while following the directions to prepare the recipe.

Shirley temple popsicle on a plate

Shirley Temple Popsicles Recipe

Cold, bubbly Sprite, grenadine and a cherry on top. Oh, how I loved getting that pink-tinted drink brought to me. I felt so grown up!

Flash forward 20 years. My boys and I were at Red Robin and I introduced them to Red Robin’s Shirley Temples.

Ummm, they were not impressed. I guess it is a girl thing. They ended up with root beer floats. But I was determined to get them to like them!

So last week I set out to make Shirley Temple Popsicles.

At first I tried with just Sprite and maraschino juice. Eh. Then I added cherries to the mix. Still not right. So, after a few trial and errors, I added fresh orange juice, sprite, cherries and cherry juice. Perfect. And the boys ate them all.

So here is to nostalgia. And Shirley Temple!


  • 2 cups Sprite or 7-Up soda
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice ( it took about 3 medium oranges to get the juice I needed)
  • Grenadine (I find this in the aisle with the margarita mix, etc)
  • Maraschino cherries


  1. In a large mixing cup, combine the soda and the orange juice. Set aside.
  2. Fill popsicle molds with maraschino cherries. (Mine were smaller molds, so I used 3 cherries in each mold.)
  3. Add about a teaspoon of grenadine to each mold. (You could use the cherry juice in the bottle of cherries, if there is enough, in place of the grenadine)
  4. Add the soda and orange juice mixture to each mold, about 2/3 full. Don’t fill to the to the top of the molds. It will expand after freezing.
  5. Place tops on popsicle molds and freeze.

Sensory Food

This popsicle recipe is a great sensory food, because of the alerting factor the cool ice pop offers to the mouth. We talked a lot about the benefits of sucking and alerting or calming properties of cool and warmth on this website in the past.

In fact, our post on using a sports bottle as a self-regulation tool shares information on the sensory receptors in the mouth and jaw. It is these receptors that register the cool, alerting temperature of a popsicle.

The cold temperature alerts, or “wakes up” the mouth. This can be a great sensory strategy to use for achieving attention or focus. It can help to regulate a child’s sensory needs when they are feeling lethargic or overly run-down.

Not to mention that during the hot summer months, a cold popsicle is the perfect treat!

However, there’s more to it than that. Sucking on a popsicle engages proprioceptive input through the muscles and joints in the mouth and jaw. Essentially, the popsicle is a strategy to offer heavy work through the mouth. So, a popsicle can actually be calming, too. It really depends on the child as well as the situation.

Think about a hot and humid summer day. A popsicle and a moment of chill-out time can help a child to calm down, re-group, and regulate their senses.

As an added benefit, a popsicle can be a great tool to use in oral motor exercises.

Lemon Lime Popsicle

Important to note about this recipe is that you can use Sprite or other pop or soda that contains lemon lime flavoring as one of the main ingredients.

The lemon-lime flavor is very alerting, as they are citrus foods. This flavoring in the popsicle “wakes up” and alerts the taste buds and acts as sensory input.

One tip: If you are concerned with the sugar intake, or want to find a lower sugar version, consider using low calorie lemon lime drink or 7-UP ten as an alternative to the lemon lime popsicle treat.

So? What do you think? Let us know if you make Shirley Temple popsicles and use them to develop skills!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to