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Here students write a letter about their “immigrant experience” after virtually exploring the Ellis Island immigration station


Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Social Studies  



Title – Ellis Island Immigration
By – Mindy Allee
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Computers & Internet
Grade Level – 5
Duration – 2 hours

Lesson Summary:

    The students will virtually explore the immigration station of Ellis Island and then view a video showing the challenges and importance of the immigrant’s journey to Ellis Island. They will then write a letter as an immigrant describing their journey and experiences at Ellis Island.

Note from

If the links in this lesson become obsolete or you do not have time to make a PowerPoint or video, just substitute another site, movie, or media for sharing the Ellis Island experience. Enrichment Idea: Give students the option of illustrating their letter with PowerPoint, Photo Story 3, or a digital scrapbook program or to make an actual scrapbook with pictures of family heirlooms or internet items. Neither one of these suggestion change the main objective of this lesson described in the blue boxes below.


  • lined paper
  • letter rubric
  • computer
  • Ellis Island PowerPoint

State Standard:

    5-3.4 Summarize the significance of large-scale immigration and the contributions of immigrants to America in the early 1900s, including the countries from which they came, the opportunities and resistance they faced when they arrived, and the cultural and economic contributions they made to this nation.


Students will describe an immigrant’s journey to the United States through Ellis Island, and the opportunities, resistance, and contributions they faced in this nation.


  1. Teacher preparation:
    • Create an Ellis Island PowerPoint including the topics and links listed below
    • Create a letter rubric for the student project
    • Ensure that internet sites are accessible through the computer network
    • Ensure PowerPoint links are working correctly in PowerPoint
  2. Using the PowerPoint as a guide:
    • Discuss with the students that people from around the world wanted to leave their home countries to come to America.
    • Discuss reasons immigrants would be pushed out of their countries along with reasons immigrants would be pulled, or drawn, to America.
  3. Explain that immigrants coming from European countries would arrive at Ellis Island in New York.
  4. Brainstorm with the students the opportunities that would bring the immigrants to America.
    • Why would they risk the journey?
    • What made it so important?
  5. Then click on the link for Teacher Tube.
    • Here the students will watch an inspiration video about the immigrant’s journey to Ellis Island.
    • Point out lyrics of the song to engage the students in the video.
    • Talk to the students about their reactions to the video.
    • How would you feel if you were an immigrant?
    • What challenges would you face, why would you come to America.
  6. Finally, finish the PowerPoint with the contributions the immigrants have brought to American and how they have influenced American culture.
  7. Pass out letter rubric to the students. Explain that they will pretend to be an immigrant coming to America. They should write a letter to a friend or family member who they left behind. They should describe their journey to America, why they want to come here, and their experiences at Ellis Island.


  • The students will be assessed throughout the lesson through questioning and class discussion.
  • The student’s letters will be assessed by way of the letter rubric.

E-Mail Mindy Allee !

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