Elementary School Programs

Our elementary school programs are place-based and hands-on and use inquiry methods to provide experiential learning to students.  During all our programs, students use their senses to heighten their learning and make thoughtful connections to promote stewardship.

Sailing and learning on the gundalow Piscataqua is a transforming experience!  This unique educational opportunity is available mornings and afternoons mid-May through October on the tidal waters of New Hampshire and southern Maine. These program are designed for schools, camps, clubs, or any group with an interest in our watershed. Our 65 foot Gundalow is Coast Guard inspected and can accommodate up to 27 students.


Grades: 4-12

PROGRAM LENGTH: up to 2.5 hours/sail (or bring 2 classes in 1 day and combine a sail with our Waterfront program, or spend part of the day at Strawbery Banke)

Each season the PISCATAQUA visits one or two towns “up river” or in Great Bay, and we’ll be happy to arrange programs in other towns when possible. Gundalow crew will work with you to customize the trip and guarantee your class a meaningful educational experience.

During school sails on the PISCATAQUA, students are engaged at customized learning stations related to exploration of the waterways and the operation of the gundalow, and work with the crew to set the sail, steer, and navigate. Activities are hands-on and place-based, combining concepts from social studies, science, math, art, and language arts. Critical thinking skills, decision making, and working as a team are all incorporated into the experience.

The cultural and natural history of the area will come alive as your students join the gundalow crew – – setting the sail, steering the boat, and engaging in active learning and teamwork throughout the trip. Students will board as a group and then rotate through an established program as the PISCATAQUA leaves the dock and travels down river.  Our Celebrating Our Rivers Program includes the 3 stations listed below:

Human Impact on the Watershed: Students use our 3D watershed model to explore how our actions on land impact the watershed and river on which we sail

Marine Food Chain: Using a plankton net, student engage in a 5 minute tow to collect plankton.  After looking at the plankton under magnification, students, student work their way up the food chain by looking at various filter feeders and eventually a lobster.

Sense of Place: During the sense of place station, students work with a nautical chart, compasses, binoculars, and other tools to determine their location.  Based on students interest, the crew will discuss the history or ecology of the region through which we are sailing.

In addition to our Celebrating our Rivers program, we offer several additional stations listed in our Sailing with STEAM program.  Many teachers choose to substitute water quality for one of the stations listed above.

While the trip will be customized for your class, a sample agenda follows. Please note that the times are approximate and are based on your arrival and departure times.

9:00 Safety talk and orientation

9:15 First watch (set the sail)

9:30 First learning station

10:00 Off watch (chantey or observation)

10:15 Second learning station

10:45 Last watch (chantey or observation)

11:00 Third learning station

11:30 Return to the Dock

See how our program aligns with state and national standards, frameworks and principles: celebrating-our-rivers-with-standards

To book a trip email education@gundalow.org and visit our booking page.

Explore the Portsmouth Waterfront with one of our shore-based programs, or combine a sail on the Gundalow with our waterfront program and make a day of it!

During the waterfront program we offer several options for the shore based programming. These programs are engaging and hands-on.  W.  Below are the program options for the waterfront program.

Piscataqua People (grades 3 and up): Travel back in time and take part in settling the Piscataqua Region.  Become a Native American, a Shipbuilder, or a merchant and make decisions about how you live, where you live, and how you adapt to the changing settlement. This role-playing game introduces students  to the the region and asks them to settle and barter with other early settlers.

A Walk in the Park: A History of the Waterfront (all grades):  Take a walk around Prescott Park and discover the history of the region through stories, photos and the historical landmarks of the area.  Take a step back in time and imagine what Prescott Park looked like when Puddle Dock ran through the area, or find the oldest grave in the cemetery.

Tide-Pooling Scavenger Hunt (all grades): Explore our coastline by looking for different critters in the water’s of Piece Island.  Spending time along the shore is a wonderful segway into looking at plankton on the Gundalow.  Our crew and volunteers will spend time exploring the area with you and answering questions.

Shore-Side Scavenger Hunt (all grades): Our waterfront is a bustling place with activity and lots of things to see.  Let students discover the waterfront in small groups using our scavenger hunt as they explore all that a working waterfront has to offer.

Simple Machines (grades 3 and up): Explore how simple machines have been used throughout history to make work easier.  Through student exploration, we will try out levers, pulleys, inclined planes, screws and a wedge.

Water Quality (grades 4 and up): During this hands-on, hour long station, students will design several basic scientific hypotheses about what they will find in water of the Piscataqua River.  We will then use a series of scientific equipment to test for temperature, salinity, Dissolved Oxygen, pH, and turbidity.  Students then prove or disprove their hypothesis and discuss challenges of carrying out real world scientific research.

Sketching in the Park (all grades): After a brief conversation about making artistic observations, students are given supplies and time to doing their own sketching in the park.

For more information on Rates and Reservations, visit our booking page, or email education@gundalow.org

Gundalows in the Classroom

Bring the Gundalow into your classroom! For grades K-6

This 1-hour program introduces your class to the historic role of Gundalows in the Piscataqua Region.  Just like all our programs, Gundalows in the Classroom is interactive and hands on.  The program includes a presentation of historical photos and maps to introduce students to a gundalows design and its place in the watershed, a detailed 5 foot long gundalow model, and a gundalow model building activity.

This program can be done as its own program or as an introduction to your sailing program.

First class = $75 (additional classes = $50)

As an introduction to your trip aboard the gundalow ($50/class)

For more information, visit our booking page, or email education@gundalow.org


Piscataqua People and Gundalows in the Classroom

For grades 3-6

This 2-hour program introduces your class to the historic role of Gundalows in the Piscataqua Region through our our historic role playing game, Piscataqua People and our Gundalows in the Classroom program.  The Piscataqua People game is an interactive activity where students become one of the early settlers in this region and work together tobuild a communityon our large Piscataqua Region map.  While 1/2 the class participates in this activity, the other students will take part in our Gundalow’s in the Classroom Program.

This program can be done as its own program or as an introduction to your sailing program.

First class = $125 (additional classes = $75)

As an introduction to your trip aboard the gundalow ($100/class)

We are currently in the process of adding more resources to help improve your gundalow and watershed experience.  For a few lessons, maps, resources, and a student logbook, please visit our resources page.

“If you are looking for a field trip that will WOW your students, look no further! It is here on the Gundalow! I have brought children on a bright sunny day and on a rainy freezing rain day and the outcome is always the same from my fourth graders…..WE LOVED IT….best field trip ever! The hands on science, the wonderful teachers and the beautiful scenery make it a yearly field trip for my class!” -Jacquie DeFreze Grade 4 Rye Elementary

“A fantastic program… sense of place, science, geography, math, history… fun. Our principal gave it a 10!”

“Students returned filled with curiosity and enthusiasm… the things they learned kept coming back for months.”

Contact Us

Gundalow Company
60 Marcy Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 433-9505
Directions | Email Us

Our Sponsors