Who/what to study: Ellis Island
- String up pictures of family and relatives on a clothesline. This is fast and easy to construct, and it also reinforces the idea of waiting in queues. Don't have any really old photos? Adopt an ancestor. Just buy photos at a flea market and use it as a creative writing prompt. Who is this person? Where are they from? Who is their family?
- It isn't the season for a lot of Statue of Liberty crafts, but you could buy or make (with transfer paper) Statue of Liberty pillows. Or you could print some eye charts to reflect the physical examinations the immigrants had to pass.
- Use laminated map/atlas pages as placemats or to decoupage a journal.
- Serve up some of those American classics. Talk about the types of food that an immigrant might find in the US. Did it originate here or was the food brought here?
- Go on a virtual tour of Ellis Island and what life choices immigrants made with the Tenement Museum or this scholastic website.
- You can search the Ellis Island records if you know a passenger's name. The Ellis Island website also has galleries of photos and lots of stories and info.
- For older students, have them create a Venn diagram contrasting immigrants now and then.
- Check out Stephen Wilkes's photographs of Ellis Island. Read his captions and stories. Try your hand at free writing a response to some of the photographs. Or choose a local location that holds a lot of history and create your own photo tour.
- Get some math in there by talking about flags and fractions. This lesson has some starting ideas. And this website has you create and learn. Can you replicate the flag of countries of origin for many immigrants?
- More math? Have students create bar graphs based on total population of immigrants coming through Ellis Island during a given time (info provided at EllisIsland.org)
- Create a family tree. Try to identify places of importance to your family (sites of birth, burial, weddings, jobs, etc).
This is a collection of Ellis Island lessons and sites.
Ethemes collection of Ellis Island lessons and links.