Great Ships on the Great Lakes

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by Catherine M Green, Jefferson J Gray, Bobbie Malone

A Maritime History

In this highly accessible history of ships and shipping on the Great Lakes, upper elementary readers are taken on a rip-roaring journey through the waterways of the upper Midwest.

Great Ships on the Great Lakes explores the history of the region’s rivers, lakes, and inland seas—and the people and ships who navigated them. Read along as the first peoples paddle tributaries in birch bark canoes. Follow as European voyageurs pilot rivers and lakes to get beaver pelts back to the eastern market. Watch as settlers build towns and eventually cities on the shores of the Great Lakes. Listen to the stories of sailors, lighthouse keepers, and shipping agents whose livelihoods depended on the dangerous waters of Lake Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Give an ear to their stories of unexpected tragedy and miraculous rescue, and heed their tales of risk and reward on the low seas.

Great Ships also tells the story of sea battles and gunships, of the first vessels to travel beyond the Niagara, and of the treacherous storms and cold weather that caused thousands of ships to sink in the Great Lakes. Watch as underwater archaeologists solve the mysteries of Great Lakes shipwrecks today. And learn how the shift from sail to steam forever changed the history of shipping, as schooners made way for steamships and bulk freighters, and sailing became a recreation, not a hazardous way of life.

Designed for the upper elementary classroom with emphasis on Michigan and Wisconsin, Great Ships on the Great Lakes includes a timeline of events, on-page vocabulary, and a list of resources and places to visit. Over 20 maps highlight the region’s maritime history. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide includes 18 classroom activities, arranged by chapter, including lessons on exploring shipwrecks and learning how glaciers moved across the landscape.

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