Welcome Educators! Here you will find all kinds of relevant information about visiting HRMM, pre- and post-visit activities, digital primary sources, and more. We update this page periodically, so check back for new information before each visit.
Notes from the Strand
Notes from the Strand is an educator’s newsletter from HRMM.
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Before You Visit
Before you visit please prepare your students on some background history of the Hudson River and museum etiquette. Here are some resources on Hudson River History:
- A Brief Overview. This great overview from Riverkeeper also includes a video about Native populations along the Hudson.
- Hudson River Panorama Explore the 1846 Hudson River with William Wade’s Panorama of the Hudson River. (Note: this website is old, but contains good information).
- Boats! Watch this 1930s education film about the Day Line steamship the Alexander Hamilton as it travels from Albany to New York City and observes other boats on the Hudson River (also plays in HRMM exhibits). For a breakneck, roller-coaster ride, here is a film that shows the entire length of the Hudson between Albany and New York City, but sped up, from 1903.
- Shipwrecks. In conjunction with our 2013 exhibit, “Troubled Waters: Wrecked and Sunken Ships of the Hudson River,” check out this New York Times article about the Wreck of the Henry Clay, a famous wreck between two racing passenger steamboats that actually resulted in legislation regulating steamboat traffic more heavily.
The following are some suggestions for in-class activities to do before or after you visit the museum.
- Geography and Mapping. Find a map of the Hudson River (or use Google Maps). Have students find their town on the map. Find the Maritime Museum on the map. How far is it from your town to HRMM? What other towns or places are in between? What other rivers are near your town? Is HRMM north, south, east, or west of your town?
- Lighthouse literature. Read “Keep the Lights Burning Abbie” by Peter and Ronnie Roop before visiting the lighthouse. Students can draw several correlations between the Rondout Lighthouse and Abbie’s lighthouse in Maine. For very young students, watch Reading Rainbow’s episode about “Keep the Lights Burning Abbie.” Ask, What do lighthouses do? Why did they need people to live in them? Look up the lighthouses in New York, particularly on the Hudson River and see if there is one near your school.
- Henry Hudson’s Journey. Have students look up Henry Hudson online or in an encyclopedia. Who was he? What did he do? Why is he important to the history of New York? Check out this interactive online map of Hudson’s journey.
- Communicating without Speaking. Did you try the Semaphore activity HRMM offers on your field trip? Keep practicing back in the classroom with Fun with Semaphore (Docx). Have students make their own flags out of paper and pencils or wooden dowels. Or, check out this list of International Marine Signal Flags and practice sending messages. Want to learn Morse Code? Try out this awesome Morse Code translator, which will translate any message you type into Morse Code and play it back for you.
- Local Primary Sources. Hudson River Valley Heritage is an excellent source for local primary sources such as photographs, ephemera, oral histories, maps, and historic newspapers. For a fun activity, have students search for vintage postcards of places they know. What is different between the postcard image and what the place looks like today? Ask students to brainstorm why the changes might have occurred and what impact the changes may have had on the place they examine. The New York Public Library’s Digital Collection also has a large repository of digitized historic images, books, newspapers, and more. For more information on using primary sources in conjunction with historical literature, check out Education Director Sarah Wassberg’s presentation, “Shifting Perspectives” at the 2013 Teaching the Hudson Valley Summer Institute.
- Canals. HRMM is located on Rondout Creek, which was the terminus of the D&H Canal. The Hudson River is also technically part of the Erie Canal. Read stories of what it was like to travel on a packet boat on the Erie Canal, a common form of transportation before the advent of good roads. Or read the journal of real-life canal boat captain Theodore Bartley (scroll to bottom for PDFs) as he traveled on the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River. Ask students – Imagine what life was like before railroads, automobiles, planes, and even good roads? How did people and goods get from one place to another? What was it like to build the canals? How do you think canals impacted the communities along them? New York state? The whole country?
What to Wear
HRMM programs take place rain or shine and some activities may take place outdoors. Please have students dress accordingly.
Proper footwear is key for visiting the Rondout Lighthouse as the boat ride includes going on floating docks and outdoor stairs. Please remind students NOT to wear flip-flops, open-backed shoes, or smooth leather-soled shoes or boots as they make for dangerous footing. Proper fitting athletic or tennis shoes are best. A portion of the deck on the lighthouse is made of steel mesh, so high-heeled shoes are strongly discouraged.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, and protective clothing are encouraged on sunny days. There are no trees at the lighthouse, so things can get a little hot out there! Dress accordingly.
What to Bring
Students and adults may bring cameras and notebooks, but please leave backpacks and large bags on the bus as room in the museum and at the lighthouse is scarce. Exhibits and galleries have many artifacts on display which may be damaged or knocked over by large bags. Photographs are allowed but flash photography is not.
Groups are encouraged to bring sack lunches and eat under our tents out of doors, but lunches should be left on the bus or in a container in a designated spot inside the museum. Lunches may not be carried through the museum while on tour or to the lighthouse. Food and beverages are not allowed inside the museum galleries.
Hand-held games and devices with internet access should be left at home or on the bus unless prior arrangements have been made to use items such as smart phones or tablets in activities or while on tour. Please turn all cell phones to vibrate or silent while on tour. If you or your chaperones must take a phone call, you will please leave the room so as not to disrupt the tour.
Please explain to students before your visit what an artifact is. In order to preserve artifacts for future generations, we ask that all students and chaperones refrain from touching artifacts on display in the museum.
In addition, because many artifacts are not roped off or behind glass in our museum, we ask that visitors move carefully through exhibits. No running is allowed in the gallery spaces.
Although a tour guide will lead you through the space, please assist and ask your chaperones to assist in keeping the group together as you move through the galleries. This will ensure that all the students get a chance to see everything and ensures that the guide can concentrate on engaging the students.