Immigration Fair

By: Mrs. Cathryn Mellon
from Beth Yeshurun Day School

Development of Critical and / or Creative Thinking, Interdisciplinary Integration

Subject(s) of entry:
Art, Computer Science, History, Literature, Tanach

Blended Learning, IBL - inquiry based learning, PBL - project based learning, 21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
2, 3, 4, 5, Elementary school, Middle school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Elementary school, Middle school, High school

I teach the same students 4th grade Texas History and then 5th grade US History the following year. We put on an Immigration Fair for 2-5th grades using what we learned about Immigration into both Galveston and Ellis Island.

Entry Narrative

I teach 4th grade Texas History and then loop with the same students to teach them 5th grade U.S. History.

In 4th grade, as we study Jewish Texans, we discuss the port of Galveston – specifically in relation to Jewish Immigration. We learn that thanks to The Galveston Movement, also known as the Galveston Plan, (an immigration assistance program operated by several Jewish organizations between 1907 and 1914) Jewish immigrants, fleeing Russia and eastern Europe, had a place to go away from the crowded East Coast cities, particularly New York, which was already crowded with these poverty-stricken immigrants. Then in 5th grade, we continue to look at Immigration through the study of The Spanish Inquisition as the impetus for Columbus’ voyage to America (was Columbus Jewish?) and then later through our escape from Europe through Ellis Island. All videos were created by my students except for the Virtual Tour of Ellis Island and Ellis Island Immigrants.

At the fair, students distributed an envelope to each student as they watched their video. In the envelope was the attached letter from their “cousin”, some foreign money, two cents for a newspaper, and a ticket. The name of the ship they were to ride was written on the outside of the envelope. They then got on the platform and rode across our make-believe ocean to see the Statue of Liberty and enter Ellis Island. Each student played a role as a ship captain, passport checker, newspaper sales, Children’s Aid Society worker, money conversion center, teaching a trade such as sewing or construction, real estate sales (tenement rentals), etc. Because this was an election year, we integrated our election studies into this by holding an election (including primaries) for Ship Captain. I have attached the advertising costs from our election.

Students printed an actual page from the New York Times to distribute the day of the Fair, and in order to give out the water front passes, they used old yearbook photos of each student. They also created their own journals of their voyage by writing on coffee stained pages and sewing them together. We put these in our “museum” with old family photos and artifacts.

The first video attached is from the Immigration Fair this year. The second, Mattox and Ethan’s Excellent Adventure was created by my students last year – and will be created again this year – but I was unable to upload the entire video. It’s a little long, but the basic idea is that they time travel to learn about history. If you look at the trailer, you’ll get a good idea of it.

Entry Videos