Hannah's Journal Lesson Plan
Students practice journal writing and learn about the immigrant experience.
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
After surviving a pogrom (an organized massacre) in her native Lithuania, Hannah's family sends her to America to find a better life. Hannah's journal records her trip aboard a huge ocean liner and her arrival on America's "golden shores." Readers will be fascinated by her succinct observations, humorous asides, personal impressions, and illustrations. Moss brings Hannah's immigrant world vividly to life.
Students will practice journal writing and learn about the immigrant experience.
Standard: Students will practice making connections between characters or simple events in a literary work and people or events in his or her own life.
A Land of Immigrants
One of the great strengths of the United States is its ability to welcome and encourage immigrants.
- Are any of the children in your classroom immigrants? If so, ask them (if they're comfortable) to discuss their experience. Do they have any family members, relatives, friends, or neighbors that immigrated to the United States? From where?
- Talk about the contributions immigrants have made to U.S. society. A simple example would be cuisine. Make a list on your chalkboard of the many different types of foods available in this country. What other influences have immigrants provided? Music, movies, customs?
- Encourage your students to celebrate, not be afraid of, the diversity around them.
1. My Journal
Hannah's Journal provides crucial historical information in an easy-to-digest format. Help students create their own journals.
- Distribute small notebooks to your students. If necessary, have them create their own journals by folding in half several sheets of 8- by 11-inch pieces of paper and then stapling the crease. (They can decorate the cover.)
- Ask students to imagine that they are moving to another country, just as Hannah did. You may wish to let each student choose his or her own destination.
- Tell them that they'll be leaving in three days' time. What preparations need to be made? Have them record those activities in their journals.
- Once they've "left," ask students to write about what is happening to them. By what means are they traveling? How long will their trip take? Are they feeling happy? Scared? Excited? Lonely?
- Once they "arrive," what happens? Are the country's inhabitants friendly? Have any accommodations been made upon their arrival?
- If students feel comfortable, ask them to share their journals with the class. Talk about each student's imaginary experiences.
- In what ways are their stories like and unlike Hannah's?
2. Hannah's Life
Help students relate their own life experiences to Hannah's.
- Hannah lived in a world far away and long ago. The author mentions ways in which life was very difficult for girls. Hannah could not be educated in school. Her cousin was promised in marriage to a man she'd never met. Together as a class, or individually, make a list of some of the hardships that Hannah endured.
- Next, ask students to consider ways in which their lives are similar to and different from Hannah's.
- How have our lives improved over the last century? Ask students to imagine Hannah's reactions to things we take for granted — supermarkets full of food, airplanes, computers.
Other Young American Voices Series Titles by Marissa Moss
Explore the historical worlds of these extraordinary young women:
- Emma's Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl
- Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl
- Rose's Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression