This week I’m sharing a well known and loved song – The Erie Canal by Bruce Springsteen. This YouTube video gives the lyrics as well as some useful facts about the Erie Canal.

I did this song with 3rd class last year and they really enjoyed it. Here are some teaching ideas;


  • Bruce Springsteen – take a look at some of Bruce Springsteen biggest hits
  • Music that tells a story – link to Irish songs/ballads (Folk songs) – why are folk songs important?
  • Genres covered; rock, folk rock, heartland rock etc.
  • What instruments are used in the song?


  • Canals – what is a canal? why were canals built? how does a canal work? are there canals in the local area? when were they built? how were they used? how are they used now?
  • Transport – then and now
  • Take a look at canals around the world today (Project work on Venice, Amsterdam etc. (World Famous Canals)


  • Diary entry – imagine you are the mule in the song; how would you feel working daily on the canal?

  • Imagine you are a passenger on a barge on the Erie Canal – write about your experience (Eye Witness to History)
  • Imagine you are a “hoggee”/boat boy – write about your experiences working on the canal

  • Make an information poster/brochure about the Erie Canal
  • Make an advertisement to encourage people to take a barge on the canal.

Useful links;