Let your students share stories about their own unique families with an underlying theme of all families, whether traditional or not, as loving and caring ensembles.
- Interview their families
- Locate, with assistance, the country of their ancestors on a map
- Compare and contrast different ways of travel
- Color and cut out a paper suitcase
- Compare and contrast distances and amounts
- Large world map
- Push pins, at least one per student plus extras
- Computer and printer
- Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Template printable
- Chart paper
- An oral Thanksgiving story or a book about the holiday, such as Thanksgiving by David F. Marx
- Store advertisements, fliers, or catalogs
- Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
- White card stock
- Small photos of each student
- Red yarn
- Yellow yarn
- Attach the world map to a bulletin board or wall where you can use push pins. Allow room for a border around the map to post student work.
- Create your own Family Interview letter to parents based on the basic template below. Feel free to add additional questions, such as when did the family come to the United States, where did the family first enter the United States, etc. Make sure to print or copy enough for each student to take a letter home.
- Make a class set of the Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Template, plus two extra copies for your examples.
- Use one of the Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Templates, decorate a Pilgrim suitcase with pictures or drawings of things Mayflower passengers may have carried, like period clothing and toys.
- Use another copy of the Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Template to decorate a suitcase for one of your ancestors.
We are discussing the holiday of Thanksgiving by looking at our own family pilgrimages to The United States. Most of our families, except for the Native Americans, are immigrants in this country. For some families, one may need to look at ancestors from a long time ago. Other families may have come to the United States more recently.
Please help your child interview you about your family history. Please return this form tomorrow with your child.
Name of Student: __________________
Which country or countries did my family/ancestors emigrate from?
How did they come to the United States? (boat, plane, car, walking, train, other)
Before Day 3
- Make a chart of the countries from where students' families emigrated.
- Put corresponding push pins on the map.
- Use red yarn to connect all the countries to your city.
- Stretch pieces of yellow yarn from each country of origin to the outside border of the map. This will connect each student's country of origin to his or her Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase page.
- Post your family emigration chart.
Step 1: Gather students for a whole group discussion and ask them if they notice something different on the wall. Tell students it is a world map that that shows our planet's land and water.
Step 2: Introduce map vocabulary like cities, countries, continents, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Write these words on the chart paper. Using colored pushpins, indicate on the map the United States, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the North American continent.
Step 3: Ask students to name the city in which you live. Ask a student volunteer to find it on the map. Put a colored pushpin there.
Step 4: Point to the calendar and ask students if they know of a special holiday coming soon. Ask students to describe what they know about Thanksgiving and share a short oral story or book about the first Thanksgiving.
Step 5: After the story, place pushpins at England and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Use a red piece of yarn to show the Mayflower voyage. Share the meaning of this journey with students.
Step 6: Remind students that when the Pilgrims came to our country, the only people here when they arrived were the Native Americans. Tell students that most of us came from someplace else. That means we emigrated here. Write the words "emigrate" and "immigrant" on the chart paper and define them. Discuss the different ways immigrants may have emigrated: plane, boat, car, foot, or by train.
Step 7: Write the word "ancestor" on the chart paper and describe what it means. Recall the story The Keeping Quilt and remind students about the Russian immigrant mother and family who arrived in the United States.
Step 8: Share your own family history.
Step 9: Tell students that over the next few days, they are going to act like newspaper reporters and interview their families to find out from where their families emigrated. Then the class will locate those countries on the map and compare them. Distribute the Family Interview letter and review the questions with the "reporters."
Step 1: Collect the Family Interview sheets and gather students together to share. As you call out their names, ask students to share their family origins and what means of transportation their ancestors used. If they don't remember, read aloud the information on their Family Interview sheets.
Step 2: Tell students that when their families came to the United States, they probably brought things in a suitcase. Ask them to name some things they think their families might have brought and accept all reasonable answers. They don't need to be historically accurate, but they should describe the kinds of things one might bring, like clothing, toys, food, books, photos, or money.
Step 3: Explain to students that they will be making pictures of a suitcase their families may have carried. Distribute the Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Template printable to students. Ask students to write their names on the suitcase handles.
Step 4: Introduce the store advertisements, fliers, or catalogs and invite students to cut out pictures of things they think their families might bring in their suitcase. Have students glue the pictures to their Tracing Our Own Family Pilgrimages: Suitcase Template.
Step 5: As students work, circulate around the room and assist them in completing the sentence "My family emigrated from ____________" on the template. Some families may have written a continent or even a city for the Family Interview questions. Accept all reasonable answers.
Note: If children want to make more than one suitcase for different countries of emigration, allow them to do so.
Step 6: Distribute the small student photos so that they can glue them on their suitcases.
Step 7: When students are finished "packing" their suitcases, have them cut out the suitcases from the templates.
Step 8: Gather students back together and have them present their suitcases to the class. Collect the suitcases for the next day's activity.
Step 9: Show students the Pilgrim suitcase you prepared. Discuss the kinds of things the Pilgrims would have brought when they came on the Mayflower. Use a yellow piece of yarn to extend from the map to the border and staple a suitcase for the Pilgrims for display.
Step 1: Gather students in front of the world map (now featuring their countries of origin) and indicate the countries that have pushpins in them. Tell them that the red yarn shows how far their families traveled to this country. Compare and contrast the distances by asking students which families traveled the shortest and longest distances.
Step 2: Tell students that many years ago, immigrants from all over the world came to the United States by boat and first landed on Ellis Island. One of the first things they saw was the Statue of Liberty. On Ellis Island, they were all mixed together in a great hall. Show them the list of immigrants on the family emigration chart.
Step 3: Distribute students' suitcases back to them. Ask students to find other families that emigrated from the same country as they did. Allow them to refer to the family emigration chart and encourage them to mingle in order to find classmates whose families emigrated from the same place. Assist children getting into groups.
Step 4: When students are grouped together, show them your personal suitcase and staple it to the outside border of the world map at the end of the yellow colored yarn pointing from your country of origin. Ask each group of emigrants to come forward and find their country of origin together on the map. Staple their suitcases around the border of the world map at the end of the yellow yarn from their country of origin.
Step 5: When all groups have finished, count the number of suitcases from each geographical location and discuss which group of immigrants is the largest, the smallest, and the same.
Supporting All Learners
Be sensitive to those families that may not be legal immigrants. The family interviews are not about legal status. Some families may want to indicate that their ancestors came from a city within the United States, rather than another country. Others may list more than one place to reflect their ancestry. Honor their replies.
Make a class graph of the method of transportation families used to emigrate. Compare and contrast the various modes of transportation used. Ask students to think about which took more or less time.
- Make a collage on a paper suitcase and cut it out
- Assemble a class immigration diagram with a world map
- Were students able to locate places on the world map?
- Did they use geographic vocabulary?
- Were they able to illustrate and cut out their suitcase independently?
- Did they complete the assignment to interview their family?
- How might you do this lesson differently next time?
- Observe how students compare and contrast lengths of yarn and numbers of suitcases.
- Notice the relevance of the items they draw on their suitcases.