New York’s Urban Ecosystem Lessons



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This lesson allows students to start with a map and explore it. As they do, they will look up whichever water and map words appear in one definition and look up those.  By the end, they should have a long list of words related to the harbor.


Students will explore a map in order to learn the words needed to talk about the harbor.

Materials and Resources


  • Internet

  • Map of Estuary

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

  • You must have reliable internet to do this lesson.

Instruction Plan


Look at the map in the folder (or another map of NY Harbor or a different harbor). Have students circle one word that they don’t know the definition of (Bay, Inlet, etc.).


Give students internet access (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). Have them look up their word. Then, have them make a list of all the other water words in that definition. Then, have them look up those words as well. They should keep a running list of the definitions of all the words that they have looked up using the worksheet in this folder. By the time they are done, they should have the definitions of at least 10 water words.


Give students a blank map. (There is one at :  http://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/blank-map-of-new-york-city.html)

Have them label the following waterways by describing them without them using any of the real water words.

  1. Hudson River

  2. East River

  3. Long Island Sound

  4. Newark Bay

  5. Upper New York Bay

  6. Lower New York Bay

  7. Jamaica Bay

  8. Atlantic Ocean


Have a class discussion where you decide which three water words are most important in discussing NY Harbor.  Justify your answer.