Making Ice in Mississippi Lesson Plan

Read the Article:
Martha Hutson


Two inventions, now so commonplace that southerners can’t imagine being without them, totally revolutionized the lives and environments of southerners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Appearing initially in the mid-1800s, man-made ice would soon pave the way for the development of air conditioning, which was used to beat back the humid heat of the South. Not only did the block ice business allow Mississippians to drink their tea “iced,” it also had a positive impact on both state and national economies. In this lesson, students will explore how individuals and businesses in Mississippi and the nation were shaped by the manufacture of “artificial” ice.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 and 2


Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12



Students will:

  • realize how their environments have been modified as a result of the manufacture of ice;
  • explain the impact of manufactured ice on communities;
  • collect data showing the impact of the ice industry on the growth of the American economy;
  • determine the cause for the decline of the manufactured ice industry.


Place students in small groups. Ask them to think of the many ways they use ice/cooled air in their daily lives and to list these in their notes. (Teacher may want to turn off the air conditioning, if possible, to help students generate some ideas.) Allow the groups to share their ideas and make additions to their lists. Ask students to consider why “ice” was a more desired commodity in the states of the southern United States than in the northern states. Encourage them to think about how their lives would be different without ice and cooled air.


  1. Now that students realize how important “ice” is to their lives, tell them that the lesson will help them realize how ice was introduced to the area and how it affected the lives of Mississippians in the early 20th century.
  2. Assign students to read the opening sections of the Mississippi History Now article to find where block ice was first produced in Mississippi and how it was made. Ask them to write a brief paragraph in their notebook describing their answer. Teacher may wish to have students read their answers to the class.
  3. Next, students will read the article searching for specific ways the state’s economy was affected by the manufacture and accessibility of block ice.
  4. Divide the students into small groups. Ask them to prepare a graphic showing two large stacks of block ice. On one stack they will “carve” the names of the businesses in the state which benefited from the ice. (They will list each business on one piece of ice, etc.) Students may also wish to illustrate each block by drawing an icon to represent the business. On the other stack of block ice, students will indicate the impact of the ice on the American economy, cities, and theaters.
  5. As the graphics are completed, post them and ask students to compare and contrast the information contained on them.


Ask students to read the final section of the article to determine what caused the decline of the block ice industry and to realize how it is still used today. Allow them to have large-group discussions.


  1. Participation in large-group discussions.
  2. Participation in group activity
  3. Completion of graphic organizers


  • Students may wish to ask family members for their recollections of the ice house in their communities.
  • Ask a student to investigate how ice was used to alleviate the suffering of U. S. President James Garfield after he was shot in July 1881.