1. Introduce the topic of settlement in the Hudson Valley and the activity.
Ask students to locate the mouth of the Hudson River in New York on a wall map of the United States. Explain to students that Dutch explorer Henry Hudson traveled across the Atlantic Ocean on the Half Moon in 1609 and continued to sail up the Hudson River. Dutch colonists followed Hudson and established settlements along the Hudson River. One of these settlements was New Amsterdam. Ask: What is the modern-day name of New Amsterdam? (New York City) Tell students that they will look at maps and watch short video clips to analyze how the available natural resources made the Hudson Valley a good place for the Dutch to establish settlements.

2. Have students analyze a map showing Henry Hudson’s arrival in the region.
Project the website The Hudson: The River That Defined America. When the website first loads, it includes a series of introductory slides. View these slides as a class for a more in-depth introduction to Henry Hudson and 17th century exploration or click “Skip to Map.” Have students look at the first map, “Hudson’s Arrival.” Invite a volunteer to read aloud the text on the left side of the screen. Then read aloud some of the text accompanying the yellow markers on the map; explain that many of the words are spelled in a form of English that is a rough translation from the original Dutch language. Help students get a general sense of the meaning. Distribute the worksheet Hudson River: A Good Place for a Settlement. Have students answer the first set of questions independently or in pairs. Discuss the answers as a class.

3. Have students watch two video clips: “Dutch Settlers” and “Dutch Trade.”
Show students the videos “Dutch Settlers” and “Dutch Trade.” Then have students answer the second set of questions on the worksheet independently or in pairs. Discuss the answers as a class.

4. Have students analyze the map of 17th century Dutch settlement.
Have students look at the second map on the Hudson website, “Dutch Settlement.” Invite a volunteer to read aloud the text on the left side of the screen. Have other students take turns clicking on the purple markers and reading the text. Then have students answer the last question on the worksheet independently or in pairs. Discuss students’ answers as a class.

5. Ask students to write about what they learned.
Ask students to think about what they learned from the maps and the videos. Write the following writing prompts on the board:

  • Would you describe the relationship between Dutch settlers and Native Americans as one of friendly trade, or one of conflict? Why?
  • How might competition for natural resources have affected the relationship between the two groups?

Have students write three-paragraph essays in response to the prompts. Encourage students to provide evidence to support their opinions.

Informal Assessment

Use the provided answer key to check students' worksheets for completeness and accuracy. Then read students' completed essays to assess their understanding.

Extending the Learning

Have students use the following questions to conduct further research into the history of the Hudson River as a natural resource:

  • What other goods, beyond fur, did Native Americans and Europeans obtain from the river and the surrounding area?
  • In what other ways did the two groups use the river in the 1600s and 1700s?
  • How did Europeans use the river in the 1800s and the 1900s?
  • How is the river used today?

Ask students to present their findings to the class.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • analyze maps and video clips to draw conclusions about settlement patterns in the Hudson River Valley
  • describe how the physical geography and availability of natural resources impacted Dutch settlement
  • explain how natural resources can lead to collaboration and conflict among cultural groups

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 1:  How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information
  • Standard 12:  The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
  • Standard 17:  How to apply geography to interpret the past
  • Standard 4:  The physical and human characteristics of places

National Standards for History

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Lined or ruled paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Wall map of the United States

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

Henry Hudson was a Dutch explorer who first sailed up the Hudson River in New York in 1609 with a crew that included Robert Juet, whose journal of the experience survives. Hudson was followed by Dutch traders, who settled in the region due to its abundance of animal fur and other natural resources. By studying interactions with Native Americans and the natural landscape, students learn how human and physical geography influenced Dutch settlement patterns in the region.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities


Atlantic Ocean

one of Earth's four oceans, separating Europe and Africa from North and South America.


person who studies unknown areas.

Hudson River

large waterway that flows in the U.S. state of New York.


place where a river empties its water. Usually rivers enter another body of water at their mouths.

natural resource

a material that humans take from the natural environment to survive, to satisfy their needs, or to trade with others.

New Amsterdam

(1626-1664) Dutch settlement on Manhattan Island, renamed New York by the British.


community or village.


buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.