Introduction to Immigration
Back to Virtual Ellis Island Museum Unit Lesson Plans
- Grade level:Elementary, High School
- Subject Area: Social Studies, Language Arts
Students read and discuss selected library resources about children and immigration. Children develop an understanding of the concept of immigration and reasons that people immigrate.
- Students will use library resources to gather information about immigration.
- Students will synthesize their findings through whole group discussion.
Given library resources students will:
- Learn about some of the reasons people have immigrated and continue to immigrate to this country.
- Come to understand what the journey is and has been like for people who immigrate to this country.
- Hear and understand the experience of immigrants from their perspective.
- Learn about some of the historical trends that have occurred in patterns of people immigrating to America.
Materials and Resources Needed
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity - over and above those described above - as well as our sense of the Internet access required to do the activity.
Books for children on immigration -- see our list of resources on immigration below for some examples.
- You may choose to have students read with partners or alone, or read to the class as a whole group.
- After students have been exposed to a variety of resources on immigration, ask students to engage in discussions in small groups about what they learned about immigration-- why people immigrated, where people came from at different times, what their journeys to this country were like, and how they felt about their lives in a new land.
- Reconvene as a whole group and have the class brainstorm a list of common concepts that they learned about immigration. You may choose to record the students' findings in a chart.
These are some examples of resources on immigration available for students to use. The list is by no means exhaustive, but is intended to serve as a starting point for your search for books. Encycolpedias, both paper and CD-ROM, also are good places for children to look for information on immigration. Each resource in our list has a brief description as well as a range of grades for which it is most appropriate.
Sam Ellis's Island, by B. Siegel (4-6 graders)A historical chronicle of Ellis Island in its different incarnations. From chapters 5 onward the book describes the waves of immigration that our nation experienced. Some discussion of American citizens' opposition to immigration is also included.
They Sought a New World, by W. Kurlek and M. Englehart (3-7 graders)A discussion of European immigration to North America, with an emphasis on Canadian immigrants. Great illustrations and primary sources for quotes.
Ellis Island: Gateway to the World, by L. E. Fisher (5-7 graders)A description of the passage through Ellis Island, wonderfully illustrated with many historical photographs.
New Kids on the Block, by J. Bode (7-9 graders)An oral history of eleven teens who immigrated to the U.S. from Latin American countries.
Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America, by M. P. Lee (10-12 graders)An autobiography by one of the first 100 Koreans to immigrate to this country.
The Long Way to a New Land, by J. Sandin (1-3 graders)An account of a Swedish families move to New York City in the 1860s.
Immigrant Kids, by R. Freedman (3-7 graders)A chronicle of immigration to the United States from 1880 to 1920.
American Immigration, by E. G. Hartmann (5-8 graders)An historical discussion of the patterns of immigration, along with why different groups came at different times, from the Colonial era through today.
...In America series, published by Lerner PublishersA series that investigates the immigration experiences and contribution of many ethnic groups in America.
Coming to America series, published by Delacorte PressAnother series that investigates the immigration experiences and contributions of many ethnic groups in America.
Watch the Stars Come Out, by R. Levinson (1-3 graders)A grandmother tells of her mother's voyage to the United States in steerage class.
Angel Child, Dragon Child, by M. M. Surat (Kindergarten-3 graders)The story of a young Vietnamese girl's adjustment to life in America -- a good source for discussing the transitions that immigrants must make on reaching their new land.
Immigrant Girl, by B. Harvey (2-4 graders)The story of an immigrant girl in New York City in 1910.
Journey to America, by S. Levitin (5-8 graders)A woman and her three daughters flee Nazi Germany and immigrate to the U.S.
A Boat to Nowhere, by M. C. Wartski (4-5 graders)The story of the Vietnamese boat people.
Resources for finding more books:
- Best Books for Children-- (Pre-school thorugh Grade 6), by J. T. Gillespie and C. J. Naden, RR Bowker, 1990.
- Our Family, Our Friends, Our World, by L. Miller-Lachmann, RR Bowker, 1992.