Hands on History Programs

An exciting, interactive way to learn history – Throughout the fall, winter and early spring, Quiet Valley offers a number of Hands on History Programs for any group. These programs cover a variety of topics relating to life on an early Pennsylvania German farm.

All Hands on History Programs, except as noted in the description, are:
Time: 10:00am until 2:00pm, with a half hour lunch break
Cost: $10.00 per person
Deadline for registration: two weeks prior to your program with a non-refundable deposit of $25.00
Minimum age: 6 years unless otherwise noted
Class size: minimum of 10 with a maximum of 25
All materials will be provided. You should bring your own lunch.

Available November through March:

Weather Forecasting throughout History
Mankind has been working to predict the weather for thousands of years, starting with detailed observations of the world around them, and moving to instrumentation and finally, weather satellites.  Students will learn the weather basics, common weather instrumentation, how weather satellites work and more.  All participants need to bring a one-liter plastic soda bottle with them. 

Hearts, Flowers and Candy
A Valentine’s Day program – participants will be involved in a variety of activities to help them get ready for the day. Participants will make two different types of Valentines – one done with Iris Paper Folding and one by weaving. Also, learn about “the language of flowers” and how a bouquet can be more than pretty, it can also send a message! Finally, what would Valentine’s Day be without sweets? Participants will make three traditional kinds of candy – potato, peanut brittle and toffee.

Onions, Peas, Beans and Spinach Grow
The survival of early Pennsylvania German families depended on the produce of their gardens for their survival. What did their gardens look like? What would they have grown? What did they do to keep their soil healthy? How do the seeds from various plants differ? We will be looking at soil composition, nutrient replacement, composting, garden location and design and how the labor was traditionally divided between men and women. Finally, participants will be planting seeds that they can eventually plant out in their own gardens.

Eggs, Rabbits and Trees – A Pennsylvania German Easter
The Pennsylvania Germans brought  Lent and Easter traditions with them to their new country, many of which we still celebrate today. Learn about dyeing eggs, the Easter Bunny, the Easter Egg Tree and more. Come and learn about how our modern Easter traditions were born. Decorate eggs, fry up some fastnachts, make some Easter cards and more. Come and discover a Pennsylvania-German Easter with your group.

Spring is Popping Out All Over
A look at the early signs of spring in the woods and garden. What are some things you should look for that tells you that spring has come, other than the robins coming back? You might be surprised at how many signs there are. Participants will also spend time on traditional spring activities, like egg dyeing using onion skins, and egg scratching, a traditional method of egg decorating. We will also make hot cross buns, a traditional Good Friday treat and special spring candles. If the violets are out, we will be making and eating some candied violets.

Clothing in the 1800’s
The 19th century was a time of rapid change in all aspects of American life. The country moved from firelight to electricity, the horse-drawn wagon to the automobile, and the log cabin to skyscrapers. Clothing mirrored these changes, with many different styles coming and going during that 100 year period. From the Empire style to the late Victorian hourglass figure, participants will be able to see how the clothing changed. They will also learn different types of hand-sewing stitches, a mandatory skill in the days before the sewing machines.

Food Preservation – From Salt to Canning Jars
Before the days of electric refrigerators and freezers, and a grocery store at every corner, being able to preserve enough food to last throughout the winter was a life and death proposition. Learn about the variety of food preservation methods available to the early Pennsylvania settler, including salting, drying, smoking and storing food in root cellars and spring houses. The program will also look at the development of home canning, and how it revolutionized the diet and health of the American people. This program will last between 1 to 1½ hours. (Note: If allowed, food samples will be shared)

Lighting Through the Ages
How did people light their homes before there were electric lights? This program shows the many different types of lighting devices developed over the centuries to light homes after dark. From tallow to whale oil to kerosene, a variety of lighting instruments were invented to meet the people’s needs. We will bring a large variety of items for people to see and hold. Wicks and beeswax sheets can be provided for the participants to make their own small candles. This program will last between 1 to 1½ hours. Minimum Age: 10

What “Wood” Would a Woodchuck Chuck?
There were trees everywhere when the first settlers came to Pennsylvania. One of the reasons the Depper family settled at Quiet Valley was the presence of Black Walnut trees. What did people use all of the trees for, and what do we use those same trees for today? Participants will learn about the most common trees in Pennsylvania, the tree structure and the different parts of the tree that are used for identification purposes, even when they don’t have any leaves on them. What is the difference between soft wood and hard wood? What happens inside the tree as it grows? What do different woods look like? We will cover all this and more. This program will last between 1 to 1¼ hours.

Just for Nice – Pennsylvania German Folk Art
Life was hard for the early settlers in Pennsylvania, but still found time to create many types of folk art. This program talks about scherenschnitte, fraktur, tinwork, decorative painting on furniture, and decorative fabrics. If desired, we are able to bring two different folk art projects that your participants would be able to do at a later time. This program will last between 1 to 1¼ hours.

Simple Machines
The early Pennsylvania-German farmer had many different types of simple machines at his disposal, and even though they were simple, that doesn’t mean they didn’t make the farmer’s life much easier. Participants will learn about the screw, lever and inclined plane, and how these machines were used on the farm. This program has many hands-on activities, including trying out a catapult! Minimum Age: 9 years

Victorian Social Graces
Make your own autograph book for everyone to sign, learn proper copperplate handwriting to use on calling cards, and have a lesson on tea party etiquette. We will also make tea sandwiches and scones and learn how to set a proper table. Then it will be time for the party, where we will enjoy the food prepared and play some games to round out the day. Minimum number of participants: 15

A Green Toy Box  
Once upon a time, if children wanted a toy to play with they, or their parents, had to make it from scratch. They were almost always made from items found around the house and farm. Reignite your imagination and discover the fun of making your own toys and games from items you can find around the house.

Christmas Throughout the Colonies
In the days before the Revolutionary War, how was Christmas celebrated? Was it celebrated at all? What foods were served? What were the most common types of entertainment during the Christmas season? Participants will learn about the different Christmas customs throughout the original 13 colonies, make traditional Christmas foods, create a couple of old-fashioned Christmas crafts, and listen to Christmas music from the Moravian tradition. So come and make the Christmas trip from Maine to Georgia! (We recommend that participants in this program no longer believe in Santa Claus as there will be open discussion about different cultural practices and beliefs.)


Please contact the Farm at 570-992-6161 if you are interested in any of these programs or to make a reservation for your group.