In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about immigration and Ellis Island. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Ellis Island topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Ellis Island
Invite students to make a family tree. You may want to share a few examples or draw your own family tree as a demonstration. Encourage children to interview family members and write short descriptions on their family trees. Challenge them to go back as far as they can. Some students may even be able to trace their ancestors to Ellis Island! Invite students to share their family trees with the whole class.
Have students imagine they have just arrived on Ellis Island in 1892. What was their journey like? Where did they come from? What did they see? What happened on Ellis Island? Then have students compose a letter from the perspective of a new immigrant. They may want to write to family members back in their home countries, or write a letter to another new immigrant they met on the boat. Encourage children to be creative! Have students display their letters in the classroom or even mail them to each other to share what they wrote.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Ellis Island
Invite your child to record an oral history from a relative or member of the community. Your child can use the video function of a digital camera or camcorder and record the subject discussing his or her family history or what life was like when he or she was young. Encourage your child to take photographs, draw pictures, or take notes. How is your child’s life different from that of the subject when he or she was growing up? Help your child make connections and understand how times have changed.
Would your child want to start a new life in a new country? Why or why not? What would be the most exciting part about moving? What would be the most challenging part? Discuss with your child and create a pro-or-con chart or other graphic organizer together. Then have your child write a paragraph using information from the chart. Be sure your child proofreads his or her work and checks for errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.