Everything we see in our lives is made up of shapes.
Some shapes, like triangles, are easy to spot. Others are so big that we don’t have names for them yet! We will learn about some of these shapes and make our own using PlayDoh. 

Watch the video and follow along with the activity guide for your grade level (K-1, 2-3 or 4-5).

Choose the Shapes Activity Guide by grade level:

This bench at Hanford Mills has a trapezoid shape.

Reading Maps

Did you know that you can tell how tall a mountain is by looking at a map?

If you are ever planning on going on a hike through the woods or on a mountain, you are going to need to learn how to read a map. Luke will explain what the different lines mean on maps, and then you can make your own maps and a 3D mountain.

Watch the video and follow along with one of the following Activity Guides.

Learn about Ice Houses

Our November activity focuses on ice houses.

What is an ice house? An ice house is a building designed to store blocks of ice. Before electricity, the only way to access ice was to cut it from ponds and lakes during the winter, and to store it in ice houses to keep the ice frozen through the spring and summer. An ice house’s system of vents, drains, and insulation kept ice cold. Upstate New York and New England sent their ice as far as India and Australia! At Hanford Mills Museum we still harvest ice from the pond every February and store it in our ice house. We use the ice to chill the ice cream that we make at our Independence Day Celebration in July. 

Supply List

Model Ice House

  • Cardstock template
  • 2 Paper cups (flattened for shipping, please unflatten)
  • Glue stick (CROP provided)
  • 2 ice cubes 

Snowflake Activity (K-3)

  • Blank sheet of paper
  • Scissors (CROP provided)

‘Zine Activity (4-8)

Choose the video that matches your grade level (K-1, 2-3 or 4-5) and get ready to Learn with Luke! Scroll down to see step-by-step instructions for each activity.

for Kindergarteners and First Graders

for Second and Third Graders
for Fourth and Fifth Graders


Activity One: Building and testing an ice house 

  1. Take the cardstock template sheets out of this kit. 
  2. Cut out the five squares along the solid lines.
  3. Fold the cardstock on the dashed lines. 
  1. Take the two squares with dashed lines and add glue to the space between the dashed lines and the edge of the paper.
  1. Attach the two smaller walls to the glued sections, lined up on one side, like in the picture below. 
  1. Once you glue all four walls together, place the final piece of paper on top of the ice house. Do not glue the roof on top so that you can take it on and off. There should be a gap between the roof and two of the sides: ice houses have vents to let warm air rise out.
  1. Now, let’s compare what happens when we put one ice cube in the ice house and leave one out in a cup.  
  2. Remove the flattened paper cups from the envelope and carefully return them to their original shape.
  3. Open the top of the ice house, place the paper cup inside, and place one ice cube in the cup. Place the top back on the ice house.
  4. Place the other ice cube in the other paper cup.
  5. Leave both out either under the sun or a light for about 30 minutes. You can do Activity 2 while you wait.
  6. Check the ice cubes. Which one melted more? The one on the plate likely melted a little more because it did not offer the protection of the ice house!

Activity 2 (Grades K-3) Making Snowflakes

What are snowflakes? Snowflakes are tiny ice crystals that fall from the sky! Like human fingerprints, every snowflake is different. We are going to make our own snowflakes and see the different kinds of shapes we can make with them.

  1. Fold your blank piece of paper in half 
  1. Keeping the paper folded, fold it again in the other direction, as in the picture. image6
  1. Stop and check! Does your paper look like the folded piece in the picture below?
  1. Now you can design your snowflake! The pattern you draw on one quarter of the paper will determine what all of the quarters of your snowflake look like. The corner where the folded edges connect will be the center of your snowflake. When you draw your snowflake pattern, start and end the lines on the folded edges (so your snowflake will stay in one piece after you cut it).The lines can be different shapes but be careful not to cross the lines. Look at the picture below to get an idea of what this looks like. 
  1. Carefully cut out along the lines, starting from the edge of the folded paper, to create the snowflake. Be careful not to cut across the lines or chop across the paper.
  2. When you are done cutting along the lines, gently unfold and open up your snowflake! There is probably nothing else like it in the rest of the world.


Activity 2 (Grades 4-5) n-ICE facts: A ‘zine all about cool ice knowledge

What makes ice special? For this activity, we will explore some cool facts about ice and create a mini-magazine, or ‘zine, filled with what we learned. Many of these facts pair well with pictures, so please feel free to draw an image that goes along with the fact. Some interesting things about ice are:

  1. Earth goes through warming and cooling cycles. Some scientists think that Earth was so cold at one point that it was covered in ice. This was called “snowball Earth.”
  2. Ice doesn’t just exist on Earth. Astronomers have found it on Mercury, the moon, Mars, and other extraterrestrial objects! 
  3. Most of the freshwater on Earth is ice found at the North Pole, South Pole, and Greenland.
  4. Ice can grow to incredible thickness in Antarctica. One area has been measured to be almost 3 miles thick! 
  5. As glaciers grow and melt, they move land with them. Much of where we live was shaped by glaciers. 
  6. Before freezers existed, people in warmer parts of the world had to order ice from colder places. The northeastern U.S. used to be one of the big ice makers, shipping ice from New York to places like Australia and India.


Step 1: Fold your sheet of paper in half, so the gray stars line up.


Step 2: Open your sheet up and fold it in half, so the gray circles sides line up.


Step 3: Keeping the sheet closed, fold up both sides so the mini-zine looks like a letter “M.” 


Step 4: Open up the sheet and fold it on the creases so it is folded up the way it was when the circles lined up. Cut the paper down the center on the dashed line down until you reach the middle of the sheet: do not cut the paper all the way. 


Step 5: Unfold the paper and refold it that the stars line up again. Open up the paper so that it looks like a “+” from the top. 


Step 6: Hold the ends of the paper with the dots and move those two sides towards the middle, then crease the paper together again.  

Step 7: Your zine is almost finished! All that’s left to do is fill each page with a fact and picture. 

Learning at Home with Hanford Mills

snow covers red mill buildings and evergreen trees behind themThe Hanford Mills Museum Education Team offers a range of activities and projects to help families and students learn at home.

Watershed Education Programs (PreK-8th Grade)

Designed for PreK-8th grade students, these activities include a video and companion activity that demonstrate the importance of watersheds.


From seeds to maps to ice houses, these lessons feature a video and companion activity that connect agrarian topics to STEM-based learning.

What I Learned Wednesdays

Created for virtual learning in 2020, this video series explores STEM/STEAM-based topics.