1. Build background on Henry Hudson and his explorations.
Draw a 5Ws chart on the board. Ask students to share anything they already know about explorer Henry Hudson and his voyages. Write their ideas in the chart under Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Project the website The Hudson: The River That Defined America. Click through the site introduction until you get to the biography of Henry Hudson. Read aloud the information or invite volunteers to read it aloud. Have students compare and contrast the information in the biography and what they already know.
2. Watch and discuss the video “Hudson Arrives at the River.”
Tell students they will watch a video of a contemporary historian discussing Henry Hudson and his voyages. Watch the video. Then check students’ comprehension. Ask:
- Before 1608, how did the Dutch and other European explorers get to China when traveling by boat? (by traveling around the southern part of Africa)
- Why did the Dutch East India Company hire Henry Hudson? (to find a cheaper, quicker route to get to China over water)
- Why did Henry Hudson spend a month exploring the Hudson River? (Hudson was looking for a passage to the Pacific Ocean and was intrigued by the tidal river, which led him to believe it might be the passage he was looking for.)
Make sure students understand: that explorers wanted to find an overseas route from Europe to China; the economic incentives to find faster and safer routes than sailing around Africa; and why Hudson spent so long exploring the Hudson River.
3. View and discuss maps of Henry Hudson’s voyages.
Go back to the website The Hudson: The River That Defined America. Click through the site introduction until you get to the series of maps that depict the three main voyages of Henry Hudson. Point out the map key to students. Explain how the colors indicate voyage routes, and explain any other map elements students may not be familiar with. Then have students make connections between the maps and what they learned in the video. Ask:
- Why was Hudson exploring? (He was hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a water route to China to facilitate trade.)
- How long did these voyages take? (The first voyage took 3.5 months, the second voyage lasted about 4 months, and the third voyage lasted 7.5 months.)
4. Have students retrace the routes of Henry Hudson’s voyages onto maps.
Distribute the worksheet Hudson’s Exploration Routes. Explain to students that they will create a map of Henry Hudson’s voyage to North America from Europe. Point out the map key. Ask students to apply the elements from the map key to the map, placing the voyage routes in their correct locations. Also have students label the present-day locations of China and India, and remind them that these are two of the regions in Asia that Henry Hudson was trying to reach. Point out to students the Arctic Ocean and talk about the possible northern routes that Hudson was trying to find, either around North America or the Eurasian continent. Explain to students that these northern seas are covered with ice much of the year, and only in modern times have sailors and navigators been able to use these routes, assisted with improved navigation technologies and ocean vessels.
Use the provided answer key to review students' completed maps for accuracy and all essential elements. Then check students' comprehension. Ask:
- Where did Henry Hudson intend to travel? (Hudson intended to find the quickest and easiest passage to Asia, specifically to China.)
- Where did he actually end up exploring? (Hudson sailed into the Arctic Ocean in the far north and finally to North America, including present-day Canada, the United States, and New York.)
Extending the Learning
Have students use library or Internet resources to research the exploration routes of Christopher Columbus in the late 1400s and apply these routes to a map. Students can use the same map used in the activity, or they can use a new map for a side-by-side comparison. Columbus sailed on four journeys from Spain, searching for Asia. Students can compare and contrast the routes, landings, and results of Columbus's explorations with those of Hudson.
Subjects & Disciplines
- World History
- use maps to analyze and interpret Henry Hudson's exploration routes
- apply data to a map using a map key
- Hands-on learning
- Multimedia instruction
- Visual instruction
Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices
National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards
- Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments
National Geography Standards
- Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past
National Standards for History
- The History of Peoples of Many Cultures around the World (K-4) Standard 7: Selected Attributes and Historical Developments of Various Societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe
What You’ll Need
Materials You Provide
- Colored pencils
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
- Internet Access: Required
- Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
- Plug-Ins: Flash
- Large-group instruction
Henry Hudson captained three distinct sea voyages in the early 1600s while trying to find an overseas trade route from Europe to Asia. At that time in history, the overland route through Europe and Asia and the existing maritime route around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa were both long and dangerous. So a new, shorter maritime route to the spice and silk regions of present-day Asia was desirable. Merchant companies and monarchs in western Europe paid captains like Henry Hudson large sums of money to look for these new routes to open up trade. Henry Hudson did not succeed in reaching Asia; however, he did explore the North Atlantic Ocean, Greenland, Iceland, parts of North America, and he famously sailed up the Hudson River as far as current-day Albany, New York. Hudson's multiple routes show the navigational challenges explorers faced during their voyages, as well as the success they had in reaching new parts of the globe.
- reading and interpreting a map
one of the seven main land masses on Earth.
having to do with money.
person who studies unknown areas.
data displayed in a spatial representation of information, such as distance and scale.
location across an ocean.
one of Earth's four oceans, bordered by North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Antarctica.
path or way.
river whose flow is affected by ocean tides.
long journey or trip.