Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ellis Island and Immigration

To begin the next phase of our social studies unit, we read the Caldecott winning book Grandfather's Journey by Alan Say. The kids really enjoyed reading it since we read the Kamishibai Man by Mr. Say two months ago. 

The story tells of a man who is homesick for Japan when he is in America, and homesick for America when he is in Japan.

We made a list of reasons why people would choose to immigrate:
  • religious freedom
  • to escape war or violence
  • famine or drought (not enough food or water)
  • natural disaster
  • to get an education
  • to get a job
  • to join family
  • for adventure
My students were very intrigued, especially since many of them have relatives who immigrated to America. in the last 30 years. I told them that a great place to read about and visit is Ellis Island.

I was lucky enough to visit there in third and ninth grades. Although my paternal grandfather immigrated from Italy, he came in 1945, meaning that he did not have to pass through Ellis Island. I highly recommend the audio tour as you can actually listen to immigrants' accounts of their own journeys to American and memories of Ellis Island and their first days in America. There are also many pictures and artifacts from the time and you can see where the immigrants lived while detained or waiting or relatives to claim them. You can even search ship manifestos using their Passenger Search or have a relative's name inscribed on the Wall of Honor.

Books, Websites, and Videos about Ellis Island and Immigration:

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