Hudson River Adventures

Hudson River Adventures
Hannah Van Buren: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: 1-2 class days

Required Documents
Exploring the Hudson River Worksheet
Hudson River Tour Worksheet


Both Hannah Van Buren and her husband, 8th President Martin Van Buren, grew up in the Hudson River Valley in a small town called Kinderhook which means “Children’s Corner” in Dutch, which was the original language of both Hannah and Martin. The Hudson River had to have been a major influence on the Van Burens as they grew up. Their parents were farmers and they most likely used the river to transport crops as well as to travel upon. The Hudson runs from its source, Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains to New York City where it empties into New York Bay. It has been one of the most important waterways in the United States since before our nation existed and still remains so today. The first European to explore the Hudson River was Henry Hudson in 1609. The river now bears his name.


The students will use first person accounts (primary sources) to gain information about Henry Hudson’s exploration of the Hudson River; will briefly summarize primary source information in their own words; and will plan a tour in which they will visit historic sites along the Hudson River.


Materials Required:

Computer with internet access; Projector and Screen or interactive whiteboard or computer lab; Worksheets: Exploring the Hudson River & Hudson River Tour; Pencil or pen.  


1. Introduce the lesson by showing the YouTube Video (below) entitled “A Ride Down the Hudson.” After the video, discuss the importance of rivers on early and native civilizations. Make sure to discuss how native populations settled near rivers such as the Hudson. Point out the uses of the river for such things as travel, water, fishing, irrigation, bathing, drinking, cooking, etc. Brainstorming the importance of living near a river may be a good way to approach this discussion.

2. The second part of the lesson is to examine and interpret primary sources. Website #2 (below) contains journal entries from a crew member named Robert Juet as he traveled with Henry Hudson up and back down the Hudson River. The students need to read these journal entries and interpret what the crew experienced on this journey. They will then summarize each journal entry in their own words, and write their summaries on the Exploring the Hudson River Work Sheet. This activity may be done as a whole class using a projector or interactive board. It may also be done in partners or in small groups. If a computer lab is available it may be done individually. The teacher should model the first few to be sure that the students understand the process.

3. The final portion of this lesson is for the students to use the interactive map located at to plan a historical tour of the Hudson River. They will need to select five historical sites along the river and briefly explain their historical significance. These can be found by clicking the Today’s Hudson River button. The students will also need to explain why they chose each specific location. This activity may be done in partners or in small groups. If a computer lab is available it may be done individually. The teacher should model a possible site to be sure that the students understand the process. 

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson was created around the interactive map listed as #2, below. It can be extended by creating a further lesson involving Dutch settlement. If the students click the Dutch Settlement button it provides another interactive map about places along the river in which the Dutch settled. Students could use this to conduct further research into the Hudson River Valley. They could also create a map of the Hudson River Valley using all three interactive maps.

Sources & Resources:


A Ride Down the Hudson

Hudson Interactive Map



This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.