Monday, October 26, 2009

Erie Canal Anniversary

On October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal, the first US major man-made waterway, was opened, providing a water route from Lake Erie to the Hudson River. Construction started on July 4, 1817, and the canal cost $7,602,000. Cannons fired and celebrations were held all along the route for the opening.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

For those of you who aren't aware, I live in Central New York and the Erie Canal practically ran through my back yard! Portions of the canal can still be visited today! My historic location makes the Erie Canal a major unit of study in the NY state 4th grade social studies curriculum. In 2005, when I was student teaching, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to teach this unit, so I think you may just find this post pretty darn resourceful!

Petrie, Lettie A.
Minnie the Mule and the Erie Canal.
Petrie Press.

Summary from Amazon:

Formatted for children in grades four through eight, this first in a series of historical adventure stories, is told through the eyes of Sarah, Captain John's thirteen-year-old daughter, and Minnie the Mule, one of the mules who towed Captain John Fairweather's barge on the Erie Canal. The story takes place in the middle of the nineteenth century when the Erie Canal teemed with activity twenty-five years after its opening in Rome, NY in 1825, and introduces young readers to the locks along the canal and the lives of "canawlers" those hardy folk who traveled from New York City's busy harbor, up the Hudson River to Albany and into the Erie Canal, going west to Buffalo, where the canal emptied into the Niagara River and Lake Erie, "the way west". Leaving Rome that spring to deliver freight to New York City the Fairweathers seem to be followed by a series of bank robberies along the canal. Read how Sarah and Minnie come to suspect that their "hogee" the man who walks the mules, is connected with the robberies, and how they catch him. Along the way readers will learn a little about the lock system of the canal, and some of their country's history in its colonial days.

I love when I have the chance to share with you all a book that I've been fortunate enough to share with children! When I've had that opportunity, I feel the insight I can give you is more meaningful and when I can provide you with a lesson plan I created based on the book that has been successfully taught, it's that much more self-satisfying for me! The 4th graders I used this book with absolutely loved it! They loved the suspense and better yet, they LOVED the journal writing activity that went along with the entire book! This is most definitely a book worthy of your time, especially if you teach a unit about the Erie Canal!

Bullard, Lisa.
The Erie Canal.
September 2009.
Lerner Publishing Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Have you ever heard of a road that was built for boats? That's what the Erie Canal is. In the 1800s, people dug a canal that was 363 miles long. It helped link the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Can you guess how long it took to build the canal? Or why the canal was important? Read this book to find out!

Oh, Lisa, how I wish this book had been around 4 years ago! Believe it or not, it's extremely hard to find quality literature that teaches the Erie Canal. This book is brief, yet wonderfully resourceful. All of the information that is found within The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal is found here, yet there's not the distraction through the pictures that might turn children's attention away from learning. It's a wonderful book and I feel very fortunate to have added this to my Social Studies collection, especially since the village I live in was part of the original canal!

Harness, Cheryl.
The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

When De Witt Clinton, a young politician, first dreams of building a canal to connect the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, folks don't believe such a thing can be done. But eight long years after the first shovelful of earth is dug, Clinton realizes his vision at last. The longest uninterrupted canal in history has been built, and it is now possible to travel by water from the American prairie all the way to Europe!Join Cheryl Harness on a fascinating and fun-filled trip as she depicts the amazing construction and workings of the Erie Canal. From the groundbreaking ceremony on the Fourth of July in 1817 to a triumphant journey down America's first superhighway, it's a trip you definitely don't want to miss.

This is another incredible book to use to enhance a unit on the Erie Canal! It is chuck-full of information, from pure trivia to the great details about how the Canal came to be. I was also able to use this book with the same group of 4th graders as I did with Minnie the Mule and the Erie Canal. I did find a few students distracted because of the amount of wording and details on each page. However, when using the book as a whole class activity and in small groups, I think it was a wonderful resource for the unit!

The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal Lesson Plan

I have also decided that since I have such devoted blog readers, I would post my entire Erie Canal Unit for download, absolutely free of charge. The unit includes 8 lesson plans, a quiz, a unit test, and two power-point "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" review games. Hopefully you'll be able to find a way to incorporate these into your curriculum! The download folder for the entire unit can be found here!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to