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Lesson Plan

The Erie Canal - A SMART Rhythm Lesson by ECSDM


The Arts (1996)


Three to Four 40-minute class sessions.

Learning Objectives

Students will read, perform and create rhythms using triplets.


  • Erie Canal SMART notebook file
  • Erie Canal Folk Song
  • Erie Canal PowerPoint File
  • Paper, pencils
  • Tubanos, Hand drums, Guiros, Rhythm Sticks
  • Erie Canal Smart Notebook File
  • The Erie Canal Song.ppt
  • Step-by-Step Procedure

    1. Review background on the Erie Canal and its importance to New York State history using the tour link (page two). Review facts using fill-in-the-blanks (page three).

    2. Sing the song.

    3. Create, read and clap/play rhythms using triplet (page four).
    Suggestion: Divide students into groups to create rhythm patterns using triplets. Each group will perform their rhythm for the class.

    4. Select cities along the Erie Canal (refer to maps link on p. 2). Have students determine the rhythm of the city name and write it in the correct box on p. 5.
    Suggestion: Divide students into smaller groups. Give each group a section of the Erie Canal map. Have them work independently to determine the rhythm of the cities on their section of the map.

    5. Using the cities discovered along the Erie Canal, have students create speech rhythms, which will later be used for the B section of the final form.

    6. Process the ostinatos on p. 7 as follows: Speech alone; Speech and body percussion; Transfer to instruments.

    7. Perform final form (p. 8). Create variations on the final form with input from the students.


    Observe and assess student work during the performance of rhythms in step 3 above.

    Assess student work done in step 4 above.


    The Erie Canal transformed America and now it will transform the way you teach triplets. Students will read, sing and perform rhythms including triplets while reviewing important facts and information about the Erie Canal.

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