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The Ohio and Erie Canal

Lesson Plan

boat on the Erie Canal

Grade Level: 


Estimated Duration of Lesson: 

30-45 minutes

Standards & Indicators:

Grade 4 
History #5: Explain how canals changed settlement patterns in Ohio.  
Study Skills and Methods #3:  Use primary and secondary sources to answer questions about Ohio History.
Grade 5 
History #6:  Explain the impact of settlement, industrialization, and transportation on the expansion of the United States.  
Study Skills and Methods #5:  Differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
Grade 6 
Geography #3:  Explain the distribution patterns of economic activities and changes in technology, transportation, communication, and resources.  
Study Skills and Methods #2:  Analyze information from primary and secondary sources in order to summarize, make generalizations, and draw conclusions.

Primary Sources Used: 

Historic Images From OhioPix (http://www.ohiopix.org/):  
Contemporary photos of Ohio and Erie Canal Locks (via Internet search)
Pictures and video taken at locks on the Ohio & Erie Canal—see video and PowerPoints in this lesson plan

Additional Resource:   

C&O Canal Trust (Images)     

Lesson Summary:

The students will travel the Ohio and Erie Canal using primary sources and draw conclusions as to how the canals were built and operated, construction of the canal boats, and the purpose of the canal system.

Instructional Steps to Implement the Lesson:

1. Class Starter:
Students will complete a 
2. Guided Lesson:  
Canals: What were they? Where were they? How did they change Ohio? Use and  to explain the history of the Ohio and Erie Canal
For historical content, review these sources:
Ohio and Erie Canal, Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection
History and hydraulics of Ohio's Canals, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources  
At appropriate point in the PowerPoints, show the video “Canal Movie.”
Here, students will visit three stops on the Ohio and Erie Canal.  
Stop 1 Lock 38 – View a video clip explaining how the lock system works and construction of locks.   
Stop 2 Boston Lock 29 – Construction of canal boats.
Stop 3 Canal Fulton Lock 4 – Traveling the canal in a canal boat.
3. Closing:  Think-Pair-Share Strategy. Students will share something they learned or found interesting at one of the stops first with a partner then the entire class.

Post-Assessment and Scoring Guideline:

Students will construct a postcard using the directions on the .  
Evaluation of the assessment will be through written expression.

Materials Needed by Teacher:

Pretest, photos of the canal, Ohio and Erie Canal PowerPoints and video, Ohio and Erie Canal Map, Postcard Project and postcard pattern

Materials Needed by Students:   

Art box for postcard project 

Extended Learning:

Experience a real ride on the St. Helena III canal boat pulled by 2 percheron horses.  During this hour-long ride you will encounter history first hand from an onboard historian.   See the Canal Fulton web site for information regarding time of operation, cost, and miscellaneous information.  

The lesson and materials were developed by: 

Kim Dannemiller
Nancy Dravenstott
Marilyn Peacock
James Taylor
Betty Condren
Janice Kollar
Cynthia Twining