Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Big Boats Up The River

Lesson Plan

Students will practice addition skills using information about ships visiting the Port of Albany on the Hudson River estuary.


Students will solve problems that require them to:

  • read and interpret data from a table;
  • add strings of single digit numbers to compare use of the Port of Albany by different vessels;
  • recognize that ships play a role in transportation and commerce in the Hudson Valley.

Grade level:

Elementary (Grades 2-3)

Subject Area:

Math, Social Studies (Geography)

New York State Learning Standards:

Mathematics, Science, & Technology Standards 1, 2, 3
Social Studies Standard 3


  • Interpret data from a table.
  • Add using single digit whole numbers.
  • Apply mathematics in real world settings.
  • Reason mathematically.


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Activity time: 20 minutes


Each student should have:


The Port of Albany is the destination of many vessels seen on the Hudson. The largest grain export elevator east of the Mississippi loads ships with grain brought to Albany by rail. A few loads of molasses come in each year, to be mixed with grain to produce feed for livestock. Road salt also arrives by ship. Scrap metal is shipped out of Albany, as is wood pulp. Heavy equipment - windmill blades, generators, and turbines - enters and leaves the port on heavy lift vessels. Containers are barged between Albany and New York Harbor.

While oil is not included in data on cargoes handled at the Port of Albany (the tank farms located in the area are privately owned), gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, and other petroleum products are - by volume and value - the most important cargos on the Hudson River. Tankers and tanker barges bring oil to Albany, and carry ethanol, brought in by rail, to refineries elsewhere in the Northeast, where it is blended into gasoline. Likewise not included in the port data are the frequent shipments of gypsum brought by ship to a wallboard (sheetrock) factory in Rensselaer, across from Albany.


  1. Discuss the kinds of ships and cargoes seen on the Hudson.
  2. Go over the worksheet with the class, or assign as in-class work or homework.


  • Have students share answers to questions from worksheet, or collect and grade sheets.
  • Use other data from the table to make up similar problems for quiz.

Vocabulary List and Answer Key:

Available in the pdf version of this teacher's section and in the package that bundles all of the readings.


  • Information about the Port of Albany is available from the Albany Port District Commission. Use the Offsite links on the right side of this page to visit the Albany Port District Commission's website.
  • Line drawings and descriptions of types of ships seen on the Hudson and New York Harbor can be viewed using the links leaving DEC's website on the right side of this page.