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Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today

Take a tour of Ellis Island, explore an interactive immigration timeline, and meet young immigrants in this online activity!


PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Activity Type

  • Computer Lab Activities

Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today shares with students the many reasons people come to America and how they’ve helped create our rich and diverse country. Through various learning activities (mostly for grades 3–8), including oral histories of recent and historic immigrants, an Ellis Island history lesson, data analysis, research skills, and several graphing activities, students get a comprehensive look at immigration.

  • Explore the History of Immigration in America Interactive Timeline (grades 5–8) to learn about important periods and dates in the history of immigration in the United States, including A New Land: 1492–1790, Expanding America (1790–1880), The American Dream (1880–1930), A Place of Refuge (1930–1965), and Building a Modern America (1965–Today). To see a list of the dates on the timeline, as well as which stops include audio, video, and photographs, rollover each of the periods listed in the Index.

  • The Ellis Island Interactive Tour (grades PreK–8) offers students a foundation of American immigration history. With captioned photographs, period video, and audio files of oral histories, students tread the path that all immigrants at Ellis Island followed while entering America at the beginning of the last century.

  • In Meet Young Immigrants (grades 3–8), students are introduced to Asya from Ukraine, Taylor from South Korea, Vandi from Sierra Leone, Sandana from India, and Gabriella from Mexico. Through video interviews and essays, the students share what it's like being an immigrant today by describing why their families immigrated to the U.S., how they’ve adjusted to a new country and culture, and more.

  • Using graphs, charts, and tables, Who Lives in America? Explore Immigration Data (grades 3–8) offers students visual representations of immigration statistics. Students create their own immigration charts and answer questions using chart information and research skills.

  • In Relive a Boy's Journey (grades 3–8), students meet Polish immigrant Seymour Rechtzeit, who came to the U.S. in 1920 at age 8, later becoming a star of Yiddish theater in New York. This photo-illustrated oral history shares the challenges of young immigrants in the early 1900s, and how the talent of people like Rechtzeit has enriched American life and culture.

You can also explore and access all of the videos in this student activity through the descriptions and links included in Video Resources for Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today.

Learning Objectives

While participating in "Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today," students become proficient with several of these skills.

  • Use Web technology to access immigration history
  • Develop an understanding of the concept of immigration
  • Develop oral history writing skills, including note-taking and conducting an interview
  • Read for detail
  • Use real-world examples as models for writing an oral history
  • Compare and contrast immigration stories of the past with the present
  • Compare and contrast immigration through Ellis Island and Angel Island
  • Use technology to explore a historical place and event
  • Use graphs and facts to respond to several research-based questions and activities
  • Create a time line

Susan Cheyney

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