Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal

Back to Lesson Plans

A geological and agricultural survey...

[Detail] A geological and agricultural survey...

Lesson Overview

In Jacob Abbott's book, Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal, Marco's cousin Forester explains to Marco that there are two “modes of acquiring knowledge” -- through books and through observation. Students obtain more complete and meaningful understanding of a topic when provided with experiences that use both primary and secondary sources. Join Marco on his educational voyage in the 1840s, experiencing the Erie Canal and "lessons in life" firsthand.


Students will:

  • understand the impact of the Erie Canal on the economic and social growth of New York and the nation;
  • use a variety of different resources (people, photographs, maps, text, etc.) in different media (print, music, electronic, video, etc.) to gather and interpret information using established criteria;
  • develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions during the early years of the Erie Canal through literature; and
  • apply what they have learned by creating a primary source alphabet book on the Erie Canal.


Time Required

  • Four weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 6-8
  • 3-5


  • Maps & Geography
  • City & Regional History


  • National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860


Janet Williammee & Rhonda King