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Welcome Immigrants!

Research the great wave of immigration to the United States in the 1800s then create a model of an immigrant marketplace.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Independently or in small groups, research the history of immigrants who came to the United States starting in the late 1800s. Italians, Poles, Armenians, and other peoples from southern and eastern Europe came to the East Coast. Ellis Island, in New York, is known as The Golden Doorway, because so many immigrants entered through that port. On the West Coast, many immigrants from China, Korea, Russia, and Japan entered the country at Angel Island in San Francisco.
    2. Inside a shoe box or similar recycled box, create an authentic marketplace that might have been found in an immigrant community. Use Crayola® Scissors to cut construction paper to make the background, signs, and other parts of the scene. Color and design the box and its lining with Crayola Markers. Attach construction paper to the box with Crayola School Glue.
    3. Research and write signs in the language of the people portrayed, using Crayola Colored Pencils. For example, in an Eastern European chicken market, you might make signs in Hebrew. Hang signs from yarn glued to the box.
    4. Dress clothespins to look like immigrant people. Cut fabric scraps to make authentic-looking dresses, shirts, and pants. Glue fabric on clothespins. Use Crayola Multicultural Markers for realistic skin colors. Glue the vendors and shoppers in place.
    5. Glue cellophane over the front of your finished diorama.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Give examples an describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Investigate concerns, issues, standards, and conflicts related to universal human rights, such as the treatment of children, religious groups, and effects of war.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side by Raymond Bial; Polish Immigrants: 1890-1920 (Coming to America) by Rosemary Wallner; Irish Immigrants, 1840-1920 (Blue Earth Books: Coming to America) by Megan O'Hara; Chinese Immigrants in America: An Interactive History Adventure by Kelley Hunsicker; Immigrant Children (Picture the American Past) by Sylvia Whitman; At Ellis Island: A History in Many Voices by Louise Peacock; The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff; Angel Island (We the People: Industrial America series) by Alice K. Flanagan

    Upon arriving and being processed at Ellis Island, many immigrants settled in New York City and other neighboring manufacturing centers. Encourage students to investigate immigrant choices for housing, work, and how they worked to keep their traditions while being immersed in their new world.

    Invite students to research The Statue of Liberty and what it signifies for immigrants. Where did the statue come from? How long did it take to erect the statue? Talk with small groups of peers to ponder what it would be like to suddenly be in a world that does not speak your language nor follow your traditions.

    Read and discuss Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" with peers. How doe Lazarus' words reflect the immigrant passage from the home country to the United States?


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