Learn with Hanford Mills

Trees in Our Lives




Compare and contrast the ways trees were used in the past and today.


Students will discuss the uses of trees they observed at Hanford Mills Museum as well as the modern uses of trees that they observe in their daily lives.


  • A variety of wood-based objects (examples: paper, pencil, paper bag, cardboard, piece of firewood, furniture, etc.)
  • A variety of objects that used to be wood-based and are now made of different materials.


  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Class Time: 25 minutes


    • Have a discussion about how trees fit into our lives.
      Questions to ask:

    • Why are trees important to us?
    • What do trees supply us with?
    • When trees “breathe,” what do they “inhale?”
    • What do they produce when they “exhale?”
    • At Hanford Mills, the students saw many ways that wood was used one hundred years ago (as butter tub covers, milk crates, etc.) Prompt a discussion of this in class
      Questions to ask:

    • What parts of the tree did the people use at Hanford Mills Museum?
    • What kinds of things were made out of wood at Hanford Mills?
    • Prompt a discussion of the differences between uses of wood when the Mill was active one hundred years ago and uses of wood today.
      Questions to ask:

    • Do we use wood the same way today that they did at Hanford Mills one hundred years ago?
    • How are the uses similar?
    • How are they different?


  • Participation in class discussions (listening and speaking) (listening and speaking).

NYS Learning Standards:

  • ELA Standard 1
  • Math, Science and Tech. Standard 4
  • Social Studies Standard 1

Vocabulary & Spelling Words:

Bark – n. the outside covering of the trunks, branches, and roots of woody plants.

Branch – n. a woody part of a tree or bush that grows out from the trunk.

Cambium – n. the thin layer between the inner bark (phloem) and wood of a tree. It helps both grow.

Growth Rings – n. the layer of wood made by a tree during a single year; annual ring. It is possible to figure out the age of a tree that has fallen or has been cut down by counting its rings.

Heartwood – n. the center part or past growth of a tree.

Leaf – n. one of the usually green, flat parts of a plant or tree that grows from the stem or branch.

Lumber – n. logs cut into boards or beams for use in building.

Phloem – n. the layer of the trunk through which the tree’s food flows. It is located between the outer bark and the cambium. It is also known as the “inner bark”.

Root – n. the part of a plant that usually grows underground, absorbs water and food, and attaches the plant to the soil.

Sapwood – n. the newer layers of wood between the bark and the heartwood that conduct water and sap in a tree. A new layer is added each year, forming growth rings.

Sawdust – n. the tiny bits of wood that fall away when wood is sawed.

Shavings – n. very thin slices or shaved-off pieces, as of wood.

Slabwood – n. the rounded, bark covered pieces of wood left over after a log is sawed into lumber.

Tree – n. a woody plant that has a long main trunk and many branches.

Trunk – n. the main stem of a tree.