Clearwater: Hudson River Rising
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Title: The Hudson River

The Hudson River was "discovered" by Henry Hudson in 1609. Since that time, it has been a vital part of the struggle for American independence, culture, economy, and recreation. In this lesson, students will learn about various aspects of the Hudson River, including its geography, history, plant-life, and animal life. They will examine pictures and texts to develop a broad understanding of the River and its environment.

Grade level: 5

Subjects covered: Science

Students will be able to:
  • define estuary
  • describe some events in the history of the Hudson River
  • describe the geography of the Hudson River
  • describe one plant or animal from the Hudson River in great detail.
Time Allotment: 4-5 class periods


For the Class:
Internet access
Clearwater: Hudson River Rising Pictures

For Each Student:
Wow! Worksheet (Literacy Centers (2001) Gianna Cassetta, Pacific Learning Publications)

Standards from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning: Science Standard 6, Level II

1. Knows the organization of simple food chains and food webs (e.g., green plants make their own food with sunlight, water, and air; some animals eat the plants; some animals eat the animals that eat the plants).

2. Knows that an organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment (e.g., kinds and numbers of other organisms present, availability of food and resources, physical characteristics of the environment).

3. Knows that changes in the environment can have different effects on different organisms (e.g., some organisms move in, others move out; some organisms survive and reproduce, others die).

4. Knows that all organisms (including humans) cause changes in their environments, and these changes can be beneficial or detrimental.

Prep for Teachers:
Print photos from the Web site Clearwater: Hudson River Rising
Make copies of Wow! Worksheet (one for each student)

Introductory Activity:

1. Show students photos from Thirteen's Clearwater Web site, drawing their attention to the animal and plant life in the Hudson River. Ask them to what kinds of animals and plants they see in the pictures. Tell the students that they will be learning about the Hudson River.

2. Distribute copies of the Wow! Worksheet and have students take several minutes to complete the "I already know..." section. (I.e. what do they already know about the Hudson River).

3. Ask students to share their responses and list them on the board. Supplement the students' list with the following information:
  • the Hudson River starts at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains and ends in New York Harbor
  • the Hudson River is named after explorer Henry Hudson
  • the Hudson River is 315 miles long
  • the Hudson River is home to more than 100 species of fish
Learning Activity:

1. Tell students they will now take a simulated journey down the Hudson River. Divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the following categories: history, geography, animal-life, plant-life.

2. Direct your students to As they view the slideshow, have students complete part two of the Wow Worksheet, "Wow! I didn't know..." as it pertains to the category they've been assigned. Allow thirty minutes to complete this part of the activity.

3. Ask each group of students to present their findings to the rest of the class.

4. Once the students are back in their seats, have them complete the last section of the Wow Worksheet, "Wow! Now I wonder. . ." Ask student volunteers to share their responses with the class.

Culminating Activity

1. Explain to students that they will now do a research project on an animal or plant found in the Hudson River Estuary. They should choose something related to one of their responses on section three of the Wow! Worksheet. Students will begin the research project and work over several class periods to gather information, images, and/or sounds, and create a PowerPoint presentation to present individually to the class. (If your students do not have access to PowerPoint, choose an alternate presentation method, such as a poster.)

2. Give each individual 2-5 minutes to show his/her presentation to the class. Give the rest of the class some time to ask any questions they might have of the student presenter.

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