Tales of the Towpath is the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and National Canal Museum’s flagship education program. Tales of the Towpath is a standardized third through fifth grade social studies/ language arts curriculum. It introduces students to Pennsylvania on a local “backyard” scale in an academic yet entertaining and engaging way. Tales is set in an era when the Lehigh Valley was leading America into the Industrial Revolution.
The story is based on the life of Finn Gorman, an Irish immigrant whose adventures along the Lehigh and Delaware canals in the 1850s introduce him to the rise of the canals and the birth of the Industrial Revolution in eastern Pennsylvania. The story is told through a historical fiction 24 chapter story book based on actual events and real and fictional people who lived and worked in the region in the mid 19th century. Throughout the tale student’s will be exposed to the local industries of coal, iron, lumber and agriculture. The history of this important part of the Lehigh Valley’s - and America’s - past, as well as the background of many familiar towns and cities, is conveyed through Finn’s adventure.
This website includes companion information and activities to share with your students as you read the story. You will find historical pictures, videos, both historical and educational, maps, and extra information. You will also find a quiz for each section, a key terms section, and an interactive map with even more information. There is also a section specifically made with bonus activities to do as Finn interacts with his “amulet” throughout the story. Included in the website is also a downloadable version of the book, an audio version and PDF of the teacher’s manual. As well as links to outside websites, potential field trips, and links to purchase additional materials for this curriculum.
This curriculum is a standardized social studies and language arts curriculum made in line with the state standards. However, there is no set standard to teach Tales of the Towpath. Instead, there are a myriad of tools in the form of lessons and assessments, website opportunities, photos, illustrations, and trunk items as well as both in person field trips and virtual programming that can be used as a springboard for creative enrichment.
If you are interested in our other curricular offerings we have another curriculum for high school and college age students called Cultural Ecology. Please visit our website for more information.
Tales of the Towpath received the 2011 “Outstanding Program of Excellence” award from the Pennsylvania Council for Social Studies.