Survive and Thrive Dutch Settlers in New Amsterdam Lesson Plans for 4th Grade Essential Unit Question

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Survive and Thrive

Dutch Settlers in New Amsterdam

Lesson Plans for 4th Grade

Essential Unit Question: Could settlers survive and thrive in New Amsterdam?

Overview: These lessons will introduce the students to the situation facing Peter Stuyvesant as he arrived in the Dutch colony. Using the online database and the Castello plan, they will be able to experience what life was like as they meet his neighbors. They will learn what their everyday life was like, including their occupations, the role of women and the everyday struggles everyone faced. Finally, they will experience the government structure of the colony as they take part in a meeting to plan the rescue of one of their own.
New York State Social Studies Standards:
Standard 1: History of the United States and New York

  • 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.

    • Key Idea 1

The study of New York State and United States history requires an analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions

    • Key Idea 2

Important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions from New York State and United States history illustrate the connections and interactions of people and events across time and from a variety of perspectives.

    • Key Idea 3

Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural, and religious developments in New York State and United States history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.

Lesson 1: Meet Peter Stuyvesant

Suggested time allowance: 1-3 days
Essential Question: Can an individual change a society?


Background Materials for Teachers:

  • New Amsterdam History Center Online Exhibition and Castello Plan.

  • “The Dutch in New York.” (56:52). “As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage to America, historian Barry Lewis takes us back in time to rediscover the first European settlers in New York — the Dutch.”

  • Banks, John. Peter Stuyvesant: Dutch Military Leader. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. “A biography of the hot-tempered leader who, though intolerant and unpopular, brought major reforms to the colony of New Netherlands before its surrender to the British in 1664.”

  • Gibson, Karen Bush New Netherland: The Dutch Settle the Hudson Valley. Hockessin, Delaware: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2007. “History of the Dutch settlement named New Netherland, which included the present state of New York, and parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware.”

Materials for Students:

  • Close-up: Colonial and Revolutionary New York. Segments: “Colonial New York: New Netherland.” (6:53) Discovery Education Streaming. “The Dutch established a colony called New Netherland in what is now New York. Peter Minuit and Peter Stuyvesant helped the region become profitable and populated. After forty years of Dutch rule, New Netherland fell to the English, who ruled New York until residents declared their independence in 1776.”

  • Lobel, Arnold. On the Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed Into Town. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. “Finding the appearance of New Amsterdam a total disgrace, Peter Stuyvesant begins issuing no-nonsense proclamations to rectify the situation.” This book has been re-published many times.

  • Quackenbush, Robert. Old Silver Leg Takes Over! A Story of Peter Stuyvesant. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1986. “A brief biography of the

Dutchman who arrived to be governor of New Amsterdam in 1647 and turned it from a muddy village into a well-organized city.”


1. “Set the stage” for the upcoming unit by brainstorming with students about what they know of life in a 1600s settlement, emphasing who would have been already here, why settlers would have come, and what types of daily struggles they would have encountered. Then from the video “New York Close Up: Colonial and Revolutionary New York,” show video segments about New Netherland before the arrival of Peter Stuyvesant.

2. Once life in the colony has been discussed, Peter Stuyvesant will be introduced as a “man for his time” whose strong control kept the colony together under Dutch rule for longer than anyone else. The picture books for students listed above can be shared as a read aloud or read in small groups. Using the same video listed above, show segments pertaining to Peter Stuyvesant and then ask the following discussion questions:

  • Why didn’t Peter Stuyvesant order his men to fight against the British?

  • Why did the British want New Amsterdam?

  • What important ideas did the colony of New Amsterdam give us?

  • How were the Dutch laws different from the British laws?

3. Project the 3D model and introduce the students to Peter Stuyvesant’s town via the virtual tour of New Amsterdam. This is meant to be an introduction to the program, and to the town as a whole; so individuals or their specific homes are not identified at this time.

4. With laptops, or in the computer lab, students will be given time to work individually or with partners to explore the town via the database containing entries on each of the houses they’ve just seen at: .

5. In a de-briefing session, students will discuss things they realized about life in New Amsterdam, and then discuss what they discovered about the program and their reaction to it.

6. Distribute a blank slip of paper for an Exit Ticket and have students fill it out before they leave the classroom.

On the Exit Ticket ask students to write down the most important new thing they learned about New Amsterdam in this lesson.

Optional Extension:

Brainstorm list of issues that would have been on the minds of the people of New Amsterdam, such as the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, or the surrender of New Amsterdam to the British. Students will then choose one of the topics to write an opinion piece stating their views which will be published in the class newspaper the New Amsterdam News. Have students add other appropriate newspaper sections, such as advertisements or political cartoons. Make this into the first edition of the New Amsterdam News displayed on a developing bulletin board. Use ideas generated by the students to add editions to the bulletin baord during the next lessons.

Lesson 2: Meet the Neighbors in New Amsterdam

Essential Question: How did the occupations of the people in New Amsterdam affect their daily lives?

Suggested time allowance: 2 – 3 days; construction of houses optional


  • SMARTboard or projector for Castello Plan; laptops or access to computer lab.

  • Worksheet: “Household Research Sheet” (included)

  • Chart paper or white board

  • “House Dimensions List” (included)

  • Cardboard model of schoolmaster’s house (L 10) made to 1’:1” scale made by teacher

  • Heavy-duty cardboard or shirt cardboard large enough to accommodate dimensions; rulers; scissors; paints or construction paper; markers; glue; display table (any other materials the teacher or students may require depending on how elaborate the Town will be)

  • Homes and associated biographical material for the following families:

    • N2 Govert Loockermens (wealthy-house/brewhouse)

    • N5 Gysbert Teunissen van Barnevelt – (farmer). Also have students visit the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum at for a picture of the oldest structure in New York built around 1652. A virtual tour of the farmhouse is available at (1:52) It presents an excellent view of the style and types of furniture found in a farmhouse during that time.

    • B7 Jan Pietersen Haring (wheelwright)

    • F4 Cornelis Steenwijk (elaborate dwelling/salt)

    • P9 Gysbert OpDyck (merchant)

    • J1 Peter Stuyvesant (Dutch West Indies Company = power). A picture of the Old Stone House of Claes Arents Vechte built in 1699 is located at This would have been similar to the stone house of Peter Stuyvesant.

    • N7 Pieter Andriessen (tavern)


  1. Using the Castello plan, take the students on a “walk through the town” “stopping” at each of the seven homes listed above just long enough to introduce the family by name and occupation. A list of the occupations should be generated on a large piece of chart paper or the white board. As the teacher

“stops” at each house, he/she can refer to the fact that the students may have already explored the links the indicated by the white flags.

2. Review the list of occupations of the townspeople, including the importance of such an occupation to the town, and its effect on the family in terms of wealth, comforts, and daily lifestyle. This is essential for helping students understand what size house each occupation would provide, and how individual families would be able to fulfill their need for wood to heat these homes.

3. Students are divided into 6 groups of 4-6 students each and given a family identity to assume for the rest of the unit. Each student should choose a different member within that family to use as their diary persona if possible.

4. Distribute the “Household Research Sheet.” (included) Tell students to complete the “Household Research Sheet” using links provided by the 3d model of the Castello Plan to investigate the family’s biographical information. Discuss the results of their investigations.


5. Present a completed cardboard model of the schoolmaster’s home (L10) made to the same scale the students will use. This is also essential foundation for the following lesson regarding the amount of wood needed in various homes.

6. Using the dimensions they find on the taxlot or the “House Dimension List,” (included) students will work in their groups to construct a cardboard model of their family’s home. Depending on the interest and the artistic abilities of the group, they may want to “furnish” their homes or “plant gardens” with items brought from home, such as artificial plants and animals.

7. Use a projection of the Castello Plan to create and color a mural of New Amsterdam, depict the land areas and the Hudson River. With this mural covering a large display table, place the homes in their correct position. Label each with a white flag showing the lot number and family name. Don’t forget to place ships at the docks and canoes in the river!


Collect the completed “Household Information Sheets” and check for completeness and accuracy.

Names: _______________________________________________________________

Group #

Household Research Sheet

Lot Number

List the people your household:


Relationship (mother, father, child, slave, etc.)


Other research information on people, house and objects:

House Dimensions List

B7 – Jan Pietersen Haring (wheelwright) & Grietje Cosyns

13' Wide x 25' Deep x 10' Tall

F4 – Cornelis Steenwijk (elaborate dwelling house/salt)

19'3" Wide x 45'11" Deep x 11'10" Tall.

N2 – Govert Loockermens (wealthy/house & brewhouse)

20' 8" X 29' 4" X 18'

N5 – Gysbert Teunisssen van Barnevelt & Magdalena Waele (farmer with 9 kids)

Width (Frontage on the Street) - 15'10"

Length - 29' 8.1"

Interior Height from floor to ceiling - 7'8"

N7 – Pieter Andriessen and Grietje Gerritsen (tavern)

15' 9.5" X 27' 5.5" x 12' 7.5"

P9 – Kathryne and Gysbert OpDyck (merchant)

30' 5.5" Wide x 11.5' Deep x 8' Tall.

L10 – Harmanus Van Hobocken (school master)

12.5' Wide x 22' Deep x 10' 4" Tall.

Lesson 3: Meet the Daily Struggles in New Amsterdam
Essential Question: How did the people of New Amsterdam meet their need for heat?
Suggested time allowance: 1 – 3 days;

  • Manahatta 1609 Map and 1609 Eco Communities Map

  • Excerpts from the “Diary of Daniel Pitersen, a Young Dutch Boy” (included)

  • Household Firewood Plan (included)

1. Begin by reviewing people’s basic wants and needs, leading to the need for shelter and from to shelter as a basis for the need for heat. Discuss how the students’ homes are heated – and how they get that heat. Ask how many students have fireplaces, and if they rely on those fireplaces for heat. Why or why not? How do the students get the wood they use in their fireplaces? End discussion with concept that the residents of New Amsterdam had only fireplaces for heat.
2. Once it has been established that fireplaces were the only sources of heat, have groups list ideas of how they will get the wood they need for their home.
3. Using the Manahatta 1609 Map and the 1609 Eco Communities Map, have groups put their ideas into priority order, considering the location of their home, and proximity of the wood. They should also consider other factors as they make their decisions—such as whom in their family is going to get the wood and how the wood is to be transported?
4. Distribute “Excerpts from the Diary of Daniel Pitersen, a Young Dutch Boy in New Amsterdam, 1660” for each group to read. Have them use the information in this reading to modify their plans as needed.
5. Have each group compare the size of their house to the schoolmaster’s house. Based on the size, estimate if their will need more, less or the same amount of wood as the schoolmaster’s house which requires 60 loads of wood to be heated. Groups then complete the “Household Firewood Plan.”
6. Groups share their ideas for getting enough wood to stay warm.

7. Ask how the group’s occupations effected their decision? Did those that could afford to pay do so? Did those who owned slaves have them to do the physical labor?

As each group reports on the size of their house and the amount of wood they feel would be required, make a class chart of results. Do the results seem consistent – do the smaller homes require the least wood? Why did certain groups decide to gather their wood one way over another? The completed “Household Firewood Plan” worksheets can also be used as evaluation of each group’s work.
Students use their diary entries as a basis to write and act out a skit, dramatizing an adventure they had while getting wood. Depending on the theatrical interest of the group and the writing abilities, the skits could range some a simple retelling of the physical

difficulty of cutting wood, to an elaborate recreation of a bear encounter complete with costumes, props and an audience

Florins - Dutch currency (50,000 florins = $20,000)

Excerpts from the Diary of Daniel Pitersen, a Young Dutch Boy

New Amsterdam, 1660
-March 1: The backroom was cold today. That’s where we sleep, and that’s where our only fireplace is! It’s also where Ma and my sister Kathryne do the cooking.

-March 4: Cold again today. This morning Ma told me I could only bring in four pieces of firewood, because the stack is running low. Usually I get at least seven pieces: 5 for daytime and 2 for night. Today the wood burned down to coals by mid-afternoon. Ma says we have to save the other two for night.

-March 5: Today Papa said it’s time to go up to Harlem and cut some more firewood. Papa, my brother Jansen and I packed up some food, our saws and axes, and sailed the canoe up the river to the unfenced lands in Harlem.

-March 6: Today we are in Harlem. We cut down a big walnut tree and sawed it into pieces. Papa said walnut is a good tree because it will take a long time to burn. More heat! Dragged the wood down to the beach and loaded up the canoe. We got 45 pieces in the boat. That’s one load. We need 60 loads a year!

-March 7: The wind made whitecaps on the river but we arrived home safely. Heard about a man with a raft full of timber that got carried off course and landed on Nutten Island! Pa says we have to take a lot more journeys this spring so we can get the firewood pile stacked up high.

- March 8: Grandpa, Jansen and I were chopping and splitting wood all day. My friend Jacob says he doesn’t have to do much chopping, because their slave Manuel does most of the work.

-May 19: Today we took the horse and wagon up to Harlem and cut a load of firewood. Hauled the wood out of the bush. Now we have 20 loads of wood in the stack. Some of the wood is still green. It will have to dry out for six months before we can use it.

-June 6: I asked Papa why we can’t buy loads of firewood like my friend Pieter’s family does. He said one load costs 20 fl. Multiply that times 60! That’s why.

-July 15: Today Pieter told me that the cart man who sold them loads of wood was cheating. The cart man measured the load with a stick that had 3 notches. He said he was going to use the top notch, but then used a lower one! That’s another reason Papa doesn’t want to buy firewood.

-November 10: Had our first snow today. Wood is dry and Mama let me bring in two extra pieces of firewood for daytime.

Names: _____________________________________________________

Household name: _____________________________________________

Household Firewood Plan
Lot Number _________________

  1. Number of people in household:

  2. How many pieces of wood per day will you use (average):

    • Daytime

    • Night

    • Total

  3. How many pieces of wood per year:

  4. How many loads of wood per year (divide total number of pieces by 45):

  5. How are you going to get these loads of wood?

a. Sail canoe up to unfenced lands and cut wood

  • Who, how many loads?

b. Drive horse and cart up to unfenced lands and cut wood

  • Who, how many loads?

c. Buy loads of wood from cart man or boat man

  • How many loads @ 20 fl./load, total cost

d. Trade something for a load of wood

Lesson 4: Meet the Issues in New Amsterdam
Essential Question:
How would the people of New Amsterdam handle community problems?
Suggested time allowance: 1-2 days;


  • which links to: Scandinavian Immigrants in New York chapter on Peter Andriessen.

  • “Scandinavian Immigrants in New York “ excerpt (included)

1. Lead a discussion on what types of problems are currently facing the students’ classroom or town community and how problems are addressed and solved.
2. Groups will then all go to N7 the home of Pieter Andriessen and follow the link to “Scandinavian Immigrants in New York” to read about his capture by Native Americans. Scroll down to 156-158 for the information on Pieter--specifically on p157. If there is no access to computers “Scandinavian Immigrants in New York “is included.
3. Groups brainstorm possible ways of getting him released, as well as the pros and cons of each option.
4. Peter Stuyvesant, (complete with a peg leg a peg leg and formerly known as the teacher) will officiate) as students take part in a meeting held to discuss what should be done to gain Andriessen’s release. Attendees present their ideas and respond positively or negatively to the other ideas being presented. At the end of the discussion a HUZZAH will determine if and how Andriessen will be rescued.

Each group will meet and discuss any issues facing their household that they feel would be appropriate to discuss among the residents of Stone Street. For example, cows could be wandering through yards, trampling gardens. Once an issue has been identified,

one representative from each family will present their personal problem to the others.

Scandinavian Immigrants in New York
" In 1655 the Indians made one of their raids. Andriessen was one of those who suffered by it: he lost his cattle. In order to recover some of his livestock, he and a few others sailed up the East River, to his farm, which he had left when the raid took place. But the Indians caught them and kept 4 of them, including Andriessen, prisoners. First after the city authorities had paid a ransom for their release, were they liberated....The Indians received a ransom; not however, the extravagant one they had demanded..." (p. 157)

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