Robert Fulton Lesson Plans

There are so many wonderful directions you can go with a study on Robert Fulton!  Our top recommendations are to study his life, his travels and inventions, or the history of shipbuilding.  Here are a few ideas to get you started in those areas!

You can grab your free downloads to go along with the Robert Fulton letter here!

Don't have the letter yet?  You can grab the snail mail letter here or the instant digital download version here.

For All Ages


  • Learn the Beach Boys song "Steamboat" from their album Holland
    Here's an Amazon link
    and a YouTube link:

The river's a bed of sweet berries and flowers
Banks of thirsty lies
(Please be careful)
The stream is an eyeglass of heroes
Bridged with bright replies
The creek is a funnel of forgiveness
Winning every prize
Steamboat of living ever faithfully ride.

The river's a dream in a waltz time
Banks of jasper glaze
(Have a ball and sing)
The stream is a timepiece of children
Bridged with crystal haze
The creek is a trumpet of hard times
Blowing tasty days
Steamboat of living ever faithfully glide.

Don't worry mister Fulton
We'll get your steamboat rollin'.

  • Learn Jimmy Buffet's song "Boats to Build" from his album License to Chill
    Here's an Amazon link
    and a YouTube link:



  • Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, New York

  • Robert Fulton Birthplace in Quarryville, Pennsylvania

  • If you're fortunate enough to live near a river or port, go observe the boat traffic.  Discuss the types of boats you see and what they may be transporting.  Or take a boat ride down a river or float a river in a canoe or kayak!



Boats Float by Rebecca Glaser
Zoom! Chug, chug! HONK! Babies and toddlers will delight in repeating the sounds of popular vehicles and animals in our board book series. Well-composed photographs highlight the real things little ones see in their world, providing a beautiful first nonfiction experience.

Alphabet Boats by Samantha R. VamosDiscover twenty-six types of vessels, from the more common--canoe and motorboat--to the unusual--umiak and Q-boat.

Boats Float! by George Ella Lyon
Set sail into the world of boats in this buoyant companion to Trucks Roll! and Planes Fly!
Sails and engines
paddles and oars
make the trip
from shore to shore.

Boats float!


  • Sensory Play Table
    Set up a table with water and plastic boats like the TOOB "In the Water" set or build your own boats with pool noodles using this tutorial.  Invite children to play!

  • Play "Will It Float?"
    Fill a tub or sink with water and invite children to collect various items to put into the water to see if they will float.



    Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman by Marquerite Henry
    A fascinating look at the foundational and character-forming acquaintances and experiences of the man generally credited with making steamboat transportation a commercial success in the United States.

    Jr. Graphic American Inventors: Robert Fulton by Steven Roberts
    Fulton's innovations on the steamboat changed America's trade and travel in a progressive way. Readers will enjoy learning more about Fulton and his contributions to American society through easy to follow text and vibrant illustrations.

    The Adventures of Munford: Munford Meets Robert Fulton by Jamie Aramini
    Join Munford and Fulton as they race to create the world's first commercially successful steamboat. Along the way, you'll meet a colorful cast of characters, from Benjamin Franklin to Napoleon Bonaparte. Don't miss this exciting story as it takes you from a fledgling young nation, to the rivers of France, and back again!

    Boats Fast & Slow by Iris Volant & Jarom Vogel
    From the haunting Viking longships, to Native American log canoes, and onwards to Chinese Dragon Boats and pirate ships, to modern racing sailboats, Boats helps to tell the story of humankind in this artfully illustrated nonfiction picture book.

    Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes by Sarah Gillingham
    This stunning visual reference is an introduction to maritime communication through nautical flags, along with Morse code, the phonetic alphabet, and semaphore signaling.

    The Boat Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
    Boats and the need for them have been around for thousands of years. Reed boats might have been the first boat ever to be built. The Vikings built wooden ships that were strong and ornate. And now boats like an Aircraft Carrier house 6,000 people and can carry over 100 planes.

    Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
    A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea. Paddle's journey, in text and pictures, through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean provides an excellent geographic and historical picture of the region.


      Middle School



      • Take learning the nautical alphabet a step further and learn Morse code
      • Learn how a steamboat works and explore this Interactive Steamboat Model at htttps://

      • Build a model steamboat like this one!

      High School



      • All of the suggestions for Middle School would be appropriate for High School.
      • Learn Morse code and earn ARRL's Code Proficiency Certificate.


      As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

      Back to blog