Cairo, NY 12413
Kathy Durkin and Liz LoGiudice
Students visit Cohotate Preserve and Historic Catskill Point for a full day. Students learn why the Hudson River is important to Catskill, how it has shaped the community, and how it continues to influence Catskill's development. They learn about river ecology, its benefits to the community, and vice versa. At Catskill Point students learn about commerce, settlement, tourism, and community development. At Cohotate they learn about the elements of the river, explore the shoreline, and examine artifacts including the remains of the old ice houses. More Overview
- Geography and the location of the Hudson River.
- Natural resources include water, animals, fish, plants and trees. The natural resources of the River and the Valley provided unique oportunities for settlement. The first people settled in regions where they would be able to live and provide for their needs. They relied on the natural resources around them to survive.
- Early communities depended on ships and boats to carry goods so many communities were founded along water ways.
- Plants and animals (including humans) depend on each other and their physical environment.
- A habitat is a place where plants and animals usually live.
- Terrestial animals interact with shoreline habitat.
- The Hudson River is made up of many living communities that need to live in balance.
- A river or estuary is a source of resources beneficial to people.
- Human decisions and activities have an impact on their environment.
- The ecology of an area needs to remain in balance.
- Industrialization, railroads, steamboats, mills and dams divert sediments and can disturb and fragment the habitat.
- Over time a community can change dramatically. Housing, roads, and businesses develop as people move in and out of communities. This change impacts ecosystems. Through community growth we often encroach on other species habitats. New kinds of communities may help preserve and or save wildlife.
- Learning and observing communities can help us understand the delicate balance that exists and help us become good stewards of resources.
- Conserving resources can protect our environment so that future generations can enjoy the River's resources.
- Natural resources
Suggested Time Frame(s)The visits described here are designed for a full day but could be divided into two shorter visits. The pre- and post-visit activities can be adapted to your schedule.
Professional Development/In-ServiceWe used worksheets and information from Project Wild's Aquatic Curriculum and Activity Guide. The materials are free but you must participate in Project Wild's training in order to get it. www.ProjectWild.org
NarrativePrior to the trip, give students some background about the Hudson River and its importance in the development of the Valley's communities. Assign relevant sections of your science and social studies text books. (See resource list.)
Possible pre-visit activities.
- Show and discuss the video, Rivers of North America (see resource list).
- Read and discuss one or more of these Hudson River stories listed in the resource section.
- Create "nature notebooks" to bring on the trip.
- We used a variety of materials from Project Wild (see the professional development section, above).
At the River the educator asked students to notice the current and then discussed tides. While our classroom discussion prepared them for the concept of an estuary, they were unsure how to tell if the tide was in or out. After investigating the waters' edge, they were still uncertain so the educator had put marked sticks upright into the mud. While they waited to observe their sticks, they explored the shoreline for plants and animals different from those on the forest trail.
The students will also notice a stone foundation; the educator will explain that it was an ice house and how it was used. We paced out the length and width to get an ideas of how big the ice house was. If you have time, at this point, you can read The Ice Horse by Candance Christianson. This will help students understand the concept of harvesting ice and using the water for marketing.
By the time you finish the story, you can go back to your sticks and determine the River's tidal action. Next, gather water samples and water chestnuts and head for the field station. Here, the educator introduced sturgeon and other fish, skulls, and other wildlife. Students were encouraged to investigate. Next students were stationed at microscopes to examine their water samples. With magnification, they were able to see micro-organisms called plankton.
Possible post-visit activities.
- Writing assignments: Have students make short journal entries and/or do sketches related to classroom activities and what they observe during visits. For additional writing practice, have each student send a thank you note to one of the sites. Suggest that they include a paragraph describing something they especially enjoyed or learned.
- Use field guides to find out more about plants or animals they observed.
- Have the Cohotate Preserve educator visit the classroom. We did two activities with her. (a) In "Sum of the Parts" students combine a group of illustrations of the riverfront to learn how human activity and development affect water quality. (b) In "Drop in the Bucket" we reviewed the hydrolgic cycle and the percent of water on earth.
- Research project on a Hudson Valley or Hudson River species.
- Create a diorama of the Hudson River Esturary at Catskill Point showing the estuary habitats and migrations of river species
- Create food chain mobiles
- Create life cycle posters.
- Small notebooks or journals and pencils for each student
- For the trip: binoculars, field guides, hand lenses, small nets, and backpacks to put them in.
- "Earth's Water," from Discovery Works, Silver Burdett Ginn Science; "Protecting the Earth," Module F, from Discover the Wonder, Scott Foresman Science; and Lesson 2, Chapter 2, Communities Around Us, Silver Burdett Ginn Social Studies. Please note that we believe both of these companies have been purchased by other publishers.
What Should Students Know At The End of This LessonSee content and concept understandings above.
What Should Students Be Able To Do at the End of This Lesson
- Construct a pie chart representing the water to land ratio and understand why earth is sometimes called the water planet.
- Use numbers to correctly estimate how much of the planet is water.
- Take notes.
How do you assess student learning?
- How well did the student record and analyze information?
- Does the student's nature notebook contain illustrations and/or tracings as well as observational notes?
- Can the student describe in writing something they observed or learned?
- Any assigned projects.