Lesson Plan

A Journey on the C&O Canal: grades 3, 4, 5

An historic black and white image from the canal boat looking at the towpath and the mules.

See the canal from Michael O'Leary's perspective in this classroom lesson.

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Subject:
Commerce and Industry, Economics, Engineering, Family Life, History, Language Arts, Literature, Reading, Regional Studies, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Transportation
Duration:
60
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
Common Core English Language Arts, Reading Literature and Informational Texts
RL.3.1, RL.3.3, RL.3.4, RI.3.7
RL.4.1, RL.4.3, RL.4.4, RI.4.7
RL.5.1, RL.5.4, RL.5.6, RI.5.7

Overview

Use this lesson as a stand-alone or as a pre-activity to a canal visit. This lesson addresses a host of indictors and objectives in both reading and social studies. Students will learn why the C&O Canal is an amazing accomplishment in Maryland’s history, understand more about the genre of historical fiction, and describe what a typical nine-year old canal boy and family were like in the late 1800’s.

Objective(s)

Students will read and discuss A Journey on the C&O Canal in order to:

1) Learn why the C&O Canal is an amazing accomplishment in Maryland's history;

2) Learn why the C&O Canal is especially important to Washington County, Maryland; 

3) Understand more about the genre of historical fiction and how it can teach us real information with characters who didn't actually live but could have; and

4) Describe what a typical nine-year old canal boy and family were like in the late 1800's.

Background

The lesson materials include a printable lesson plan, Power Point presentation and notes for the teacher, journal experts with a map for the students, and a vocabulary list. The lesson was designed for Washington County, Maryland, students who visit the Williamsport Visitor Center at the Cushwa Basin; but it is applicable for other locations along the canal as well. It is suited for students in third, fourth, or fifth grades. 

You might begin by discussing your upcoming field trip or show a photo from the power point or other resource.

Ask: How would you like to live on a boat and travel up and down a canal for 8 months every year? Give some talking time and time to share. Explain that many families who lived and worked on the C&O Canal did just that.

Materials

The lesson materials include a printable lesson plan, Power Point presentation and notes for the teacher, journal experts with a map for the students, and a vocabulary list. The lesson was designed for Washington County, Maryland, students who visit the Williamsport Visitor Center at the Cushwa Basin, but it is applicable for other locations along the canal as well. It is suited for students in third, fourth, or fifth grades. 

You might begin by discussing your upcoming field trip or show a photo from the power point or other resource.

Ask: How would you like to live on a boat and travel up and down a canal for 8 months every year? Give some talking time and time to share. Explain that many families who lived and worked on the C&O Canal did just that. 

Procedure

Assessment

When the journal has been completed, you may wish to have students respond in writing to any of the questions, or additional questions that you develop. Make other materials and websites available for students to continue to learn more about the C&O Canal.

Park Connections

This lesson introduces students to the things they will see when they visit the canal—the towpath, lockhouses and locks, and aqueducts. It also describes the Paw Paw Tunnel. It helps students understand the daily life of families on board canal boats, including caring for the mules.

Vocabulary

Aqueduct, canal, cargo, canal lock, lock house, lock keeper, towline, towpath