Group of toddlers sitting eating ice cream cones

We Like Ice Cream!

The children will learn about dairy farms and will make ice cream.

Group of toddlers sitting eating ice cream cones

Lesson Objective

The children will learn about dairy farms. They will learn about changes in states of matter from a liquid to a solid when making ice cream.


What You'll Need

  • Pictures of different types of farms; including dairy, crop, and orchard farms
  • Coffee cans with lids – 1 large and 1 small (place small can in the freezer overnight before using)
  • Duct tape – 1 roll
  • Crushed ice – 5 to 10 cups
  • Large box of kosher salt
  • Large, thick rubber bands
  • Kitchen towels – 1 per large coffee can
  • One cup of very cold milk – 1 cup
  • One cup of heavy cream – 1 cup
  • One cup of sugar – 1 cup
  • One teaspoon of vanilla – 1 teaspoon
  • Paper cups or bowls – 1 per child
  • Plastic spoons – 1 per child

What To Do

Note: The amounts indicated in What You Will Need will make about 2 cups of ice cream.

  1. Display the different farm pictures, and discuss the different types of farms (see Did You Know?).
  2. Tell the children that dairy farms raise cows because the main product from a dairy farm is milk, and we need cows to make milk.
  3. Explain that many products are made from milk, such as butter, cheese, and ice cream, and that today, the children will be making ice cream.
  4. Display the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Discuss that some of the ingredients are solids, and some are liquids.
  5. Tell the children that they will be mixing some liquids and then turning them into a solid.
  6. Let the children help you measure the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla, and put them into the smaller coffee can. Tape the lid on securely.
  7. Place the smaller can inside the larger coffee can, and fill the space around the small can with alternating layers of ice and salt.
  8. Place the lid on the larger coffee can, and tape it securely.
  9. Wrap the large can in a kitchen towel, and secure it with the rubber bands. 
  10. Have the children sit in a circle and roll the can to each other continuously for at least half an hour. You can also shake the container. The important thing is to keep it in constant motion.
  11. Open the larger coffee can, and remove the smaller can. Wipe it dry, open it, and enjoy!

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Explain how a dairy farm is different from an orchard.
  • Describe how the ice cream is different from the milk. How are they the same?
  • Tell me some other things that are liquids/solids.
  • Explain why we need to use something very cold, like ice, to make the ice cream, and not an oven or a microwave.
  • Tell me what you think might happen if the ice cream gets warm.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Transform the dramatic play area into an ice cream shop. Provide aprons; notepads; pencils; clean, empty ice cream containers; ice cream scoops; plastic bowls; spoons; and clean, empty syrup containers. Children can pretend to take orders from customers and make ice cream desserts.
  • Make a science lab near the water table. Adult-size white shirts with sleeves rolled up can be lab coats. Provide paper, pencils, and clipboards for note making. Include magnifying glasses, turkey basters, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and empty containers from the recycling bin. The children can pretend to be scientists.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain that a dairy farm produces dairy products?
  • Could children explain ice cream as a solid and milk as a liquid?
  • Could children name other liquids and solids?
  • Could children explain why ice was needed to make the ice cream?
  • Could children explain that the ice cream would melt and turn into a liquid if it gets warm?


Did You Know?

Farming is important work because everyone needs food. There are many different types of farms. Crop farms are farms that grow vegetables and grains. Farms that grow fruits are called orchards. Dairy farms are farms that specialize in raising cows that produce milk and milk products. Many products come from milk, such as cream, butter, cheese, and ice cream. 

Liquids and solids are two forms of matter. Some liquids can become solid, and some solids can become liquid. All liquids can pour and take the shape of the container that they are in. Solids keep their own shape and cannot flow like a liquid. Milk and cream are liquids that contain fat particles. When the milk and cream are mixed together, the fat particles smash into each other and create larger fat particles. When the milk and cream mixture begins to freeze, the larger fat particles become ice cream, which is a solid. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • dairy – a food that is made from milk or having to do with milk products.
  • product – something that is made from something else.
  • liquid – a form of matter that can flow, is not a solid or a gas, and takes the shape of its container. Water is the most common form of liquid on Earth.
  • solid – something with a firm shape that can be measured in height, length, and width.
  • cream – the part of whole milk that contains fat.
  • ice cream – a food that is frozen and sweet. It is made by mixing cream and sugar while being frozen.

Lesson Tips

  • If you have more than 10 children in your group, create two ice cream makers, divide the group in half, and make two batches of ice cream.
  • If coffee cans with lids are not available, you can use quart-size and gallon-size zip-close freezer bags instead. Make sure the bags are securely sealed, and reinforce the closures with duct tape.
  • Many children have dairy allergies. You might want to provide an additional, alternate nondairy activity using soy milk or fruit juice. Check the Internet for recipes.


  • What Is the World Made of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
  • Ice Cream: The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons
  • Milk to Ice Cream (Rookie Read-About Science) by Lisa M. Herrington
  • Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
  • The Ice Cream King by Steve Metzger

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS