This lesson plan adheres to New York State Learning Standard 1- History of the United States and New York, Elementary Level, Key Idea #2. Additionally, this lesson plan corresponds with the National Social Studies Curriculum Standards thematic strands of culture, individual development and identity.
Ask students if they have ever moved from one home to another. Continue the discussion by asking students to share their experiences during their move.
Students will be able to analyze primary sources (photographs) of immigration during the early 1900s at Ellis Island. Students will be able to identify why immigrants came to America.
The United States population has historically been composed of diverse ethnicities. From 1850-1924, immigrants helped to increase the diversity of the nation’s ethnic fabric. However, many immigrants had to leave behind possessions and family members.
Essential Information - Tell students that immigrants to Ellis Island typically experienced harsh conditions. For example, the majority of immigrants brought only what they could carry in one suitcase, traveled for up to a month on overcrowded boats, could not speak English, underwent rigorous physical examinations, and had to answer many questions over a minimum five hour interview, including whether they could read and whether they had jobs.
Activities - Display images from the Ellis Island series one by one to class for discussion. Use the following questions as a guide for discussing each photograph, (depending on grade level, you may want students to fill out a discussion guide handout utilizing these questions).
Independent Practice – Students interview a relative, teacher, or neighbor about their national origin. Students should gather information on:
Discuss your family heritage and their reasons for coming to America. Bring in pictures of your ancestors to show your students.
CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING / CLOSURE
Students present their answers to the independent practice questions.