Boats have a long history on the Great Lakes. From the first birchbark canoes, to the schooners and steamships of the 1800s, to the massive freighters of today, people have used boats to fish for food and to transport goods and people.

This week students will explore some of the boats used in the region. They’ll also learn an important skill that all sailors use: knot tying.

Time/Materials

This activity will take between 30 minutes and an hour.

You’ll need:

  • Computer
  • Rope or string

Ready? Head to the Classroom!

Watch the video below to learn about boats on the Great Lakes. 

Share the Learning

Ask your kids: What types of boats have you been on? Have you seen different types of boats on the Great Lakes or in movies? What is happening on those vessels? Who works on those boats?

Activity

Learn to tie the knots that Captain Todd showed us by watching the three videos below. You can re-watch and practice along with Captain Todd as many times as you need. 

Extra Credit

Parents: Take a photo or video of your knot, and share it on social media. Tag us in your creations, and we may share it with others!

Deep Dive

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!

  • Test your knowledge of the different types of Great Lakes boats throughout history with this quick quiz: “Boats of Many Sizes” 
  • Have you read the classic book “Paddle to the Sea” by Holling Clancy Holling? 
    • Follow along on with this “Google Lit Trip” (NOTE: You will need to install Google Earth and download the .kmz file.)
    • The classic 1966 film “Paddle to the Sea” from the National Film Board of Canada is based on the book of the same name. The film follows the birchbark canoe and it’s long trip from Lake Superior to the ocean.
  • Learn more about the Denis Sullivan Schooner, one of the boats that Captain Todd sailed.

Find more Great Lakes lessons at H.O.M.E.School.