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Exploring the Hudson in 1609

Lesson Plan

Using a portion of Robert Juet's journal, students will integrate geography, English language arts, and mathematics skills in tracing a portion of the Half Moon's voyage.

Objectives:

Students will:
• Learn how maps serve as representations of a geographic region;
• Listen for information and understanding to text read aloud;
• Convert units of measurement;
• Plot the Half Moon's progress on a map.

Grade level:

Elementary (Grades 4-6)

Subject Area:

Social Studies, English Language Arts, Mathematics

Standards:

Social Studies Standard 3
English Language Arts Standard 1
Mathematics, Science, and Technology Standard 3

Skills:

• Listen to acquire facts and ideas from text.
• Use multiplication skills to convert units of measurement.
• Use a map scale and addition skills to measure distance.

Duration:

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Activity time: 60 minutes

Materials: Each student should have:

• Pencil and eraser
• Text if necessary (see Activity below)
• Scrap paper for doing calculations
• Map: Exploring the Hudson in 1609 (PDF, 2.7 MB)
Note: The map is set up for 8.5" x 14" (legal) paper, but will work on 8.5" x 11" (letter) paper as well. You may need to use options in your computer's print menu to specify legal-sized printout.
Suggestion: Create one long map by having students carefully cut out the piece on the left, including the legend, and then overlap and tape it to the bottom of the piece on the right.

Background:

In 1609 the Dutch East India Company hired Henry Hudson to find a Northeast Passage to the rich spice lands of Asia. Hudson believed, however, that the legendary Northwest Passage held more promise. So when ice blocked his way east around Russia, the explorer sailed west to North America to search for the Northwest Passage. He brought the Half Moon into the Lower Bay of New York Harbor on September 3. After exploring the harbor, he entered the river now named for him on September 12, traveled north past Albany, and then retraced his route back to the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the river on October 4.

Only fragments of Hudson's logbook survive; the journal kept by crew member Robert Juet is the main source of information about the voyage. It describes navigation on the river, encounters with Native Americans, and features of the landscape, documenting the natural resources which attracted further Dutch exploration and settlement.

This lesson barely scratches the surface of the journal, covering just September 14-16 and focusing mainly on math and map skills. There is much more to learn from this text-the first written description of the Hudson Valley. Experiencing this landscape every day, we often take our surroundings for granted. As they listen, have students imagine themselves to be on the Half Moon, seeing this region for the first time, just as Robert Juet did.

Today, distances on the Hudson are often measured in Hudson River Miles. Hudson River Miles start at the southern tip of Manhattan. This spot, called The Battery, is River Mile 0. The estuary part of the Hudson ends at the dam in Troy at River Mile 153. The Half Moon's starting point for the three days covered here - River Mile 5 - is an approximation.

Activity:

Three variations are offered for students at different skill levels. For all three versions students may work alone or in groups of 3-4 children. They should have pencils, erasers, and scrap paper for arithmetic problems. Provide background information about Juet's journal and its vocabulary. Write the conversions on the board for reference: one league equals three miles; one fathom equals six feet.

Most challenging: Students listen without being able to refer to written text.
1. Hand out copies of the map. Point out the 5-mile indicators and the compass rose.
2. Explain that you will read the journal excerpt out loud. Students should listen for the distances traveled during each leg of the journey, convert them into miles as necessary, and mark the Half Moon's position on the map at the end of each leg.
3. Read Juet's journal to the class. Pause where indicated in the text to allow the students to do the conversions and mark the ship's location.
4. Juet's distances are estimates. Where possible, have students use his descriptions of the landscape and compass directions to more precisely locate the ship on the map.
5. Commentary alongside the reading (on the teacher's copy) interprets the text and suggests questions to ask the class. Some questions are answered by labels on the map. Discuss Juet's observations of the landscape and its inhabitants as appropriate.

Moderately challenging: Students listen while reading along in the text.
1. Hand out copies of the map and and text included with this teacher section. Point out the 5-mile indicators and the compass rose.
2. The teacher may read the journal or have children read sections of it aloud. Students should listen for the distances traveled during each leg of the journey, convert them into miles as necessary, and mark the Half Moon's position on the map at the end of each leg.
3. When reading the journal to the class, pause where indicated in the text to allow the students to do the conversions and mark the ship's location.
4. Juet's distances are estimates. Where possible, have students use his descriptions of the landscape and compass directions to more precisely locate the ship on the map.
5. Commentary alongside the reading (on the teacher's copy) interprets the text and suggests questions to ask the class. Some questions are answered by labels on the map. Discuss Juet's observations of the landscape and its inhabitants as appropriate.

Least challenging: Students listen while reading along in a text broken up into short sections.
1. Hand out copies of the map and the student text (PDF, 192 KB) broken into sections. Point out the 5-mile indicators and the compass rose on the map.
2. Have individual children read each section of the text out loud. At the end of each section, have students convert leagues to miles, mark the Half Moon's position on the map, and respond to teacher questions as appropriate.
3. Juet's distances are estimates. Where possible, have students use his descriptions of the landscape and compass directions to more precisely locate the ship on the map.
4. Commentary alongside the reading (on the teacher's copy) interprets the text. Some questions are answered by labels on the map. Discuss Juet's observations of the landscape and its inhabitants as appropriate.

Assessment:

• Have students sign the map and hand it in.

Vocabulary:

compass rose: on a map, a design that shows directions
fathom: a unit of depth equal to 6 feet
league: a unit of distance equal to 3 miles
legend: a list explaining symbols used on a map
ride: to float anchored in one place
scale: on a map, a marking that shows distance
weigh: to raise a ship's anchor

Answer Key:

Available in the pdf version of this teacher's section (PDF, 307 KB), accompanied by the teacher's copy of the map (PDF, 2.7 MB) .

Resources:

Robert Juet's journal has been transcribed for the New Netherland Museum and its replica ship Half Moon and posted online, see the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section on the right sidebar for the link. An excellent subject for document-based inquiry into this region's history, the transcription maintains the spellings, punctuation, etc. of the original published in 1625 and includes background on the voyage and the journal's publishing history. The website also describes curriculum materials available from the museum for Grades 4-7.