Colonial Times


New York

Exploration and History

By Nicole Abold

  • Overview

  • NYS Standards and Benchmarks

  • How to Use This Book

  • Meet the Character Helpers

  • Native American Society Before the Settlers

  • The Native American Way of Life

  • A Timeline of the Contributions of Early Explorers in New York

  • Results of Exploration

  • The Creation of New York Colonies

  • The Results

  • Life as a Settler in Colonial New York

  • People of New York

  • A New World

  • Work Cited and Resources



Unit: Colonial Times in New York State

Subject: Social Studies

Grade: 4

Students will know:

  • Geographical settings of Colonial New York
  • Culture and rituals of Native American societies
  • History of accomplishments of settlers living in Colonial New York
  • Accomplishments and Contributions of Native Americans
  • Contributions of European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries
  • Results of European exploration in New York

New York State Standards and Benchmarks

New York State Learning Standard: SS 1, History of the United States and New York

SS Standard 1: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

History of the United States and New York Standard 1.3: Understands the history of our community, our state and our nation

Standards Benchmarks (Learning Outcomes)

  Knows geographical settings, economic activities, food, clothing, shelter, crafts, and rituals of Native American societies of New York State both past and present

  • Haudenosaunee
  • Algonquin

SS4.3h.2  Knows the history of the important accomplishments of individuals and groups living in our community and region                                                                                                                                              

SS4.3h.4 Knows the important accomplishments and contributions of Native American Indians who lived in our community and State government

  • games
  • customs

SS4.3h.7  Knows about European explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries, their reasons for exploring the information gained from their journeys and what happened as a result
of their travels

  • Christopher Columbus
  • Jacques Cartier
  • Verrazano
  • Hudson
  • Champlain

How to Use This Book

To the reader:

As you read through this text you may come across various words that are bold, underlined and highlighted. These words are to help guide you through difficult vocabulary. When you click on the word you will be taken to the glossary and provided with a definition. 

Meet the Character Helpers


Rebecca, Monty, and Hali will assist you in reading and understanding the content of this text.

Click on Rebecca, Monty and Hali as they explain what they will help you with.

Native American Society before the Settlers

Many Native Americans lived in the Eastern woodlands of New York.

  • The Algonquin lived in what is present day Long Island and the Hudson River Valley.
  • The Haudenosaunee lived in what is present day Central and Western New York.
  • The Algonquin were enemies of the Haudenosaunee and referred to them as the Iroquois, which means "rattlesnake".
  • Haudenosaunee means "people of the longhouse"; where many families lived together.


Native American Longhouse used for housing and gatherings.

The Native American Way of Life

Each member of a Native American clan contributed to their daily activities.

  • Women often picked crops. 
  • Men helped plant and clear fields, fish, hunt and make canoes.
  • Children would gather water and wood for fire.
  • Boys learned to trap animals such as bear, deer and turkey.
  • Girls learned to cook, create pottery and make clothing.

In the past and present storytelling has been an important part of Native American culture; it passes history from generation to generation about their ancestors

Woven Baskets, Moccasins and Clothing
Native Americans created many useful tools and clothing by hand.

A Time Line of the

Contributions of Early Explorers in

New York


Lake Champlain (Left) and the Hudson River (Right)
Lake Champlain and the Hudson River during Colonial Times

1492 - Columbus discovered the "new world".

1524 - Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano sailed into the New York Bay.

1536 - Jacques Cartier traveled to the St. Lawrence River.

1541 - Samuel de Champlain followed Cartiers route and built a permanent settlement along what is now the St. Lawrence River.

1609 - Henry Hudson sailed into the New York Bay and up what is now known as the Hudson River.

Results of Exploration

Exploration took place due to a great interest in New York  because of the opportunities of trade with the Native Americans.

The creation of St. Lawrence settlement became a major fur trade center. During this time, Champlain became allies with the Algonquin Native Americans.

Champlain found a large lake, which he named after himself, Lake Champlain. This area was surrounded by woods, meadows and mountains.

Henry Hudson and his crew sailed up the Hudson River where they met many Native Americans and often traded items such as beads and hatchets for food and furs.

Riverbed and Foliage

The Creation of New York Colonies

Exploration led to the formation of many colonies

  • New Netherland (Present day New York, New Jersey and Delaware)
  • Fort Orange (Present day Albany)
  • New Amsterdam/Fort Amsterdam (Present day New York City)


Map of Early New York City

The Results

In the early 1600's the Dutch government created The Dutch West India Company. This was a group of businessmen who sent people to set up colonies in New York and surrounding areas.

In 1624, thirty families sailed to New York and New Netherland was formed. Others continued further up the Hudson to form Fort Orange, which became the first European settlement.

Fort Orange was a very important trading center between the settlers and the Native Americans. They often traded furs and skins for knives, pots and guns.

As more settlers continued to arrive in North America, they began to build a fort in present day Manhattan and called it New Amsterdam after Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Albany Settlement
Early Settlement in New York State

Life as a Settler in Colonial New York

Most settlers lived in either New York City or Albany.

  • These communities were the largest of the time and centers of business.

By the 1770's settlements began to push as far west as the Mohawk River Valley.

Many people arriving to the new land brought with them their own cultures , including new languages and beliefs.

People that lived in the Hudson River Valley became farm families. Everyone on the farm worked very hard, taking on similar roles of daily activities much like the Native Americans.

  • Men did most of the hunting and fishing and crafted items out of wood.
  • Women made clothes for the family.
  • Children fed animals and gathered berries and participated in chores as they grew older.


Life in Colonial Times

People of New York

In the 1770's some opted to come to North America from Europe as Indentured Servants. They would work for an employer upon their arrival to pay for their boat trip. They would work as long as necessary and then were free to find other jobs.

By 1775 one fifth of New York's population were African American, some were free but others were brought to New York in  slavery. Those enslaved worked on farms or did housework. Others had skilled jobs such as tailors, shoemakers and blacksmiths. African Americans were often treated poorly and unable to live freely.



A New World

Though life as a settler was difficult, many people left their home countries to begin a new and hopefully, better life.

Many changes began to take place as more settlers arrived in the New World. Small pockets of people began to form governments within the settlements and create their own ideas of how the colonies should be run.

These ideas would eventually result in the Revolutionary War and the independance of the original colonies from European control. Creating what is today, the United States of America.


United States of America
Map of the United States as it exists today.

Work Cited

Banks, J. A., Beyer, B. K., Contreras, G., Craven, J., Ladson-  Billings, G., McFarland, M. A., & Parker, W. C. (2001). New York: Adventures in Time and Place (pp. 66-109). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill School Division.


Classroom Clipart Images

Discovery Education. (2005)

Definition of Exploration