Learn with Hanford Mills

Making Ice Cream




Learn one of the ways ice was used.


Students will discuss how ice was used and will make ice cream.


  • Milk, cream, or half-and-half
  • Vanilla extract or chocolate syrup
  • Sugar
  • Ice (preferably crushed, but can use ice cubes)
  • Salt
  • Good quality ziplock baggies, both small and large
  • Newspaper
  • Anything you might want for eating the ice cream (bowls, spoons, etc.)


  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Class Time: 30 minutes


  • Discuss historic ice use with your students. Farmers used ice to preserve their milk and other farm products until they went to market, storekeepers used it to cool food, families used ice at home in their iceboxes. When cool food was shipped in boxcars on the railroad they covered it with crushed ice or kept ice blocks in built-in iceboxes. Can students think of any other uses for ice? Ice harvested from ponds, lakes, and rivers also has been used for making ice cream. Even today, Hanford Mills Museum makes ice cream in the summer with ice that has been stored in the ice house since the ice harvest.
    • Make your own ice cream in class. If you have a traditional ice cream maker with a crank, you may use it, or if you don’t have one, try this method:

    • Distribute a sandwich size ziplock baggie to each student
    • Fill each baggie with the following ingredients: 1 teaspoon sugar, ¼ cup milk (or cream or half-and-half), a dash or vanilla extract or about ½ teaspoon of chocolate syrup.
    • Make sure the baggie is securely sealed, then squish the ingredients around to mix them up. Label baggies with students’ names.
    • Place three or four of the filled baggies into a larger ziplock bag half full of ice and 5 ounces of salt. Make sure the bag is sealed securely
    • Wrap the big baggie up in newspaper roll.
    • Shake the roll for about 5 minutes and you will have ice cream.
    • Ask your students to consider the following question as you enjoy your ice cream:

    • Why did they add salt to the ice around the baggies? Salt makes ice melt faster. For ice to melt faster, it must draw heat from its surroundings, thus causing the ice cream mixture to freeze.


  • Participation in experiment
  • Class participation in answering questions (listening and speaking)

NYS Learning Standards:

  • ELA1
  • MST 4

Vocabulary & Spelling Words:

Icebox – n. an insulated box with a place for ice, used for preserving or cooling food, beverages, etc.

Preserve – v. to store or prepare food so it will resist going bad or rotting.