navigate to thirteen or ed online
  Lesson Plans
Rollin' on The River - the Hudson River!

Nancy N. Miller
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 3 hours


In this lesson, your students will be examining how the Hudson River was important to the development of the United States. They will also look at the role of steamboats played in the development of the Hudson River Valley. They will study a map of the New York State region and the thirteen colonies to investigate this concept. Through a video presentation, your class will hear how and why West Point came into being, as well as what purpose was stated for the fort built at West Point. They will also examine the role steamboats played in the development of this region and make a small model engine to show how steam boats functioned.

Subject Matter

Social Studies, Science

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Describe the political and economic importance of the Hudson River in colonial America.
  • Explain the role steamboats played in the later development of the region.
  • Explain and model how steamboats were powered.

From the National Social Studies standards, available online at:
Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time. Human beings seek to understand their historical roots and to locate themselves in time. Such understanding involves knowing what things were like in the past and how things change and develop.

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

Technological advances connect students at all levels to the world beyond their personal locations. The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists learners as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world. Today's social, cultural, economic, and civic demands on individuals mean that students will need the knowledge, skills, and understanding to ask and answer questions such as: Where are things located? Why are they located where they are?

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of relationships among science, technology, and society.

Media Components


America's First River: Bill Moyers on the Hudson # 101:
"Stories from the Hudson"

Web Sites

Engines of Ingenuity: The First Steamboat
This site traces the development of the first steam boat, which was definitely not Fulton's!

America's Story : Who really invented the Steamboat?
A short page on the first patent for a U.S. steamboat!

PBS: Learning Adventures in Citizenship - The Invention of the Steamboat
This site nicely ties in to the video's information about the development of steam travel.

Interactive Steamboat Model
This site allows your students to explore and learn about the parts of a steamboat and how they work.

Maps of the Region
This site will provide students with a map of any area requested within the United States.


Per student:

  • 1 12 oz soft plastic cup (do not buy the rigid / hard plastic cups as you must poke a hole in the cup) with fitted lid! Dixie has a "Grab and Go" type that comes with the lids available at most supermarkets!
  • 1 bamboo fruit skewer (available at most supermarkets at 100 for a dollar)
  • 1 copy of engine turbine pattern
  • 1 copy of paddle wheel pattern (copy this on card stock instead of regular paper!)

Per class:

  • scissors
  • scotch tape
  • short drinking straws or hollow coffee stirrers.
  • crazy glue
  • 12 Maps of the area you teach in - available online through (2 students per map)