Educational Resources for School and Home

Virtual tour of the Erie Canal Museum

Click the image below to take an eight-minute guided tour of the Erie Canal Museum.
Check our YouTube channel for more educational videos!

Follow along with the video using this information hunt to get even more out of your virtual tour!

Lesson Plans and Activities for Elementary Students

Erie Canal Word Search

Click here for a downloadable word search activity of well-known and not-so-well-known Erie Canal vocabulary. Print out and share if you like!

Erie Canal Mapping Activity

When the COVID-19 crisis forced schools to close, public broadcaster WCNY and the Syracuse City School District created the TV Classroom network to provide educational content to area students. We participated in this project with a class about the Erie Canal, which can be viewed by clicking this link: WCNY Erie Canal Lesson. We’re pleased to offer the lessons and activities that accompany this class below.

Mapping New York and the Erie Canal is a downloadable PDF created for elementary school students in line with New York State Social Studies Standards.

Mapping New York and the Erie Canal

Downloadable coloring sheets

Download and print our coloring sheets for your students or family. Each sheet includes interesting facts about the Erie Canal.

Coloring pages

Baking Oliver Wendell Petrie’s Erie Canal Brownies: A Fun Lesson

In the 1930s, Oswego, New York native Oliver Wendell Petrie went to work as a cook on an oil tanker that traveled between Chicago and New York City using the Erie and Oswego canals. Thanks to Petrie’s family, the Museum archives contain a number of his personal items, including his recipe book. These items offer an interesting look into the life of a worker on New York’s 20th century canals. Learn more about Petrie by reading The Life and Times of a Canal Boat Cook by Museum Educator Derrick Pratt.

We have also created a fun lesson plan using Mr. Petrie’s brownie recipe. Teach New York State and Canal history, basic math, and other subjects while baking a batch of brownies! Click here to download the lesson plan, ingredient cards, and recipe. Enjoy!

Historic Photo Comparison Activity

In this activity, students have the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills by answering questions about historic photographs of the canal and comparing them to each other. This is a great activity to do before visiting the museum on a field trip to get students thinking about the Erie Canal!

Erie Canal Photo Comparison

Erie Canal Trivia Game

Race across New York State and show off how much you learned during your visit to the Erie Canal Museum with this fun trivia game!

Erie Canal Trivia Game

Further Resources for Elementary Teachers

Want more information and resources for teaching the Erie Canal to young children? Check out this list of resources:

Further Resources for Elementary Teachers

Lesson Plans and Activities for Middle and High School Students

The Transforming Effects of the Erie Canal: A Virtual Lesson

Museum Educator Derrick Pratt created this lesson using primary documents from the digital collections of the Erie Canal Museum and the Canal Society of New York. The lesson includes links to nine documents and a set of questions about each. Students may download the question sheet as a PDF or Word document. Each document number is a link to the document and information about it. The lesson also includes an essay question and some helpful websites.

Erie Canal Questions

Erie Canal Questions

Student projects: The Erie Canal and the Industrial Revolution

Click this  link for two pages of student activities related to the Erie Canal and the Industrial Revolution. These activities are appropriate for any student who has studied or is studying the Canal’s economic and political origins, its construction, its impact on society, and its connection to the Industrial Revolution. We are very grateful to Rebecca Stephens, a seventh-grade social studies teacher in the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District near Syracuse, New York, for developing and sharing these activities. Ms. Stephens developed them over the past several years as part of an innovative and engaging week-long Erie Canal unit. She serves on the Erie Canal Museum’s Teacher Advisory Board, and has also lent her expertise to Mount Vernon and the National Constitution Center.

Pathways of Resistance: A Critical Look at the Canal

This grant-funded project takes a critical look at the effects of the Erie Canal on several marginalized communities, including: the Haudenosaunee, enslaved people & the practice of slavery in upstate New York, and the many immigrants drawn by the canal for work. This curriculum is created with 7th grade students in mind. 

Virtual walking tour of historic Syracuse

Click the link below to take a virtual tour of significant architectural works in Syracuse, New York, sites of local and national importance, and notable Erie Canal influences that remain to this day. Follow along at home or head down to Clinton Square and take the walking tour yourself!

The History of the Erie Canal in Syracuse

Interested in learning more about the Erie Canal and its history? Visit the page below!

The Erie Canal

Visit the page below to learn more about the 1850 National Register Syracuse Weighlock Building. It’s the Museum’s most important artifact, and the only one of its kind in the country.

1850 Syracuse Weighlock Building

More activities and lesson plans will be added to this page soon, so be sure to check back often!