Clearwater: Hudson River Rising
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Title: The Hudson River: History through Geography

Since Henry Hudson sailed the Hudson River in 1609, it has been the site of tremendous historical, cultural, and economic import. In this lesson, your students will work in groups to learn about the many significant sites along the Hudson River. They will plot these sites on a class map, and select one location as the focus of their culminating activity.

Grade level: 7-8

Subjects covered: Social Studies

Students will be able to:
  • locate the Hudson River on a map;
  • describe at least five locations along the River that are historically, culturally, or economically significant;
  • synthesize information about a single site along the Hudson River into a written document.
Time Allotment: 2 class periods

Materials for the Class:

Internet access
5 different colored markers
5 envelopes
15 index cards, with one of the following locations written on each card:
  • Clearwater, Inc.
  • Bear Mountain State Park
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Val-Kill
  • Hudson River Maritime Museum
  • West Point
  • Vanderbilt National Historic Site
  • The Cloisters
  • Hudson River Museum
  • South Street Seaport Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Roosevelt National Historic Site
  • Washington's Headquarters
  • Wave Hill
  • Lyndhurst Mansion
Large poster board (draw Hudson River on it prior to class; see Thirteen's map for example)
One piece of string, 10-12 feet long
Class map of the United States that shows state borders and rivers

Social Studies Standards from the NJ Core Content Curriculum Standards, available online at:;c=6;s=1;g=8

6.1A.1. Analyze how events are related over time.
6.1.A.4. Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context.
6.1.A.5. Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events.
6.1.A.6. Formulate questions based on information needs.
6.1.A.7. Use effective strategies for locating information.
6.1.A.11. Summarize information in written, graphic, and oral formats.

Prep for Teachers:
Write one of the locations listed above on each of the fifteen index cards.
Place three index cards in each of the five envelopes.
Draw the Hudson River on the poster board.

Introductory Activity:

1. Ask your class if they know where the Hudson River is. What state/s is it in? What are some major cities near the Hudson River?

2. Invite one or two students to locate the Hudson River on the class map and tell their classmates where it is.

3. Select two (different) students to come to the front of the room.

4. Place the students ten feet apart, and have each of them hold one end of the string.

5. Tell the student on the left that s/he represents the place where the Hudson River begins.

6. Tell the student on the right that s/he represents the place where the Hudson River ends.

7. Ask your class if they know the names of the two students' locations. The student on the left represents Lake-Tear-of-the-Clouds, which is the source of the Hudson River, and the student on the right represents New York Harbor, which is where the Hudson River ends. Direct your students to a large map, or a map in their textbooks, if they need help finding the locations.

8. Once your students know the source and end of the Hudson River, ask them if they know of any other locations that are along the Hudson River, including but not limited to, towns, cities, bridges, parks, tourist attractions, schools, etc.

9. When students volunteer the locations they know, ask them if they know approximately where on the string that location exists, and have them come to the string and stand at that spot.

10. Tell your students that they are going to learn about many of the major locations that can be found along the Hudson River.

Learning Activity:

1. Divide the class into five groups, and give each group an envelope containing a set of the index cards you prepared before class.

2. Using textbooks or the Internet, each group will find the location and relevance of the sites that are contained in their envelope, writing pertinent information on the back of each index card. Allow students 20 minutes to complete this activity. (Note that information about all of the locations can be found here.)

3. Hang the poster board map of the Hudson River on the wall, board, or easel and give each group a different colored marker.

4. Have each group plot the location of their sites on the map and give the class a brief description of each site.

Culminating Activity

1. Instruct each student to select a location from the class map that they would like to visit.

2. Tell the class that they will design a brochure for their location that is geared toward teachers who are considering that site for a class field trip. They must research their site online to obtain the following information: what is the site and what is its significance; what are the days and hours of operation; what is the cost of admission; are group discounts available; provide directions from major highways; is photography permissible; what is the availability of food services, and are there any special exhibits and/or restrictions. (Note that information about all of the locations can be found here.)

3. Allow the students to complete the assignment at home and turn it in on the day of your choosing.

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