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Say Cheese

Nancy N. Miller
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 Two 45-minute class periods


In the days of colonial and frontier settlers, the technology we take for granted today was not available. This lesson looks briefly at the differences in the working and eating conditions between the late 1800s and today. A video survey of life in the 1880s and a trial butter-making activity, as well as an Internet Quest for information on cheese will culminate in a hands-on cheese-making experience and tasting activity.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Compare and contrast a housewife's daily work regime during the 1880s and today
  • Describe the role played by women homesteaders in the 1880s
  • Describe and demonstrate the simplest form of cheese-making
  • Describe and demonstrate the role of acidifying agents in the cheese-making process


New York Standards for Science
Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.
New York Standards for Social Studies
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live - local, national, and global - including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth's surface.

Students will communicate about how people live, work, and utilize natural resources.

Media Components


Frontier House #1: The American Dream

Frontier House #2: The Promised Land

Frontier House #4: Survival

Web sites:

Keeping the Pantry Full on a Frontier Homestead
This site is a part of the extremely comprehensive Web site developed by PBS to accompany the Frontier House series. The page chosen for this activity contains an essay on food preservation on the frontier.

The History of Cheese
This site provides some historical background about the theories as to how and where cheese was first made.

Cheese of Antiquity
Information on the cheese-making process and possible sources of plant rennet is provided in this site.

New England Cheese
This very comprehensive site includes information on cheese making history, trivia about cheese, recipes for making cheese, and how to order supplies for cheese-making at home.

The Old Timer Page/ The Way We Used To Do It...
This site provides a wealth of information about everyday life in the late nineteenth century. It includes information on springhouses, icehouses, and making butter!

The Cheese Wizard
This site includes the history of cheese-making, background information on the process, and recipes.


Per class:

  • Computer and Internet access
Per pair of students:
  • 50 paper clips
Per student:
  • One copy of each student handout.
Demonstration of denaturing of protein
Per class:
  • 1 clear plastic cup (12 oz. size)
  • 1 fresh raw egg
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar or 1 cup of lemon or lime juice (use bottled concentrate)
Per pair of students:
  • 1 cup of fresh heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 quart size Ziploc freezer baggies
  • Pinch of salt
  • Plastic knives for spreading
  • Plain saltine crackers
Per pair of students:
  • 2 cups of whole milk, heated to 85 degrees F.
  • 1 gallon size Ziploc freezer baggie (do not substitute lighter weight baggies)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or the equivalent of the juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • Small amount of fresh dill (optional)
  • Pinch of salt (to taste)
  • 1 18" inch square of fine cheesecloth
  • 2 JUMBO size heavy duty plastic cups (for collecting whey and suspending the cheese over)
  • 1 long pencil
  • Small crackers
  • Plastic spoons and knives
Per class:
  • Large pot to heat milk in
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Long handled spoon to stir heating milk
  • Heat source (i.e. hot plate)
  • Measuring cup