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Immigration Lessons for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students


Resources to help students learn, think, debate, and write about immigration



ThinkCERCA's lessons give students an opportunity to connect with stories, reports, and first-hand accounts about immigration. Each authentic text is paired with a writing prompt, and premium lessons include scaffolded writing supports as well.

With these lessons for grades 3-12, don't just ask students to read about immigration. Inspire them to express their views and to reflect on immigration's connection to their life.

Grades 3-5

Growing Up on Ellis Island

What made living on Ellis Island so unique?

The Tamale Connection

Why are family traditions important?

Liberty's Skin and Bones (Free)

What is the most impressive part of the creation of the Statue of Liberty?

Immigrants Adopt Thanksgiving's Traditions

Should immigrants follow the traditions of the country they move to, the country they left, or combine traditions of both countries?

Poetry: The New Colossus

What values of the United States does the poem explain?

My Name is Now

What were some of the reasons why people's names were changed when they immigrated?

Kids Did That?

What actions by individuals and groups caused the U.S. government to create child labor laws?

The First Polish Americans

How did the Polish settlers of Jamestown help make it a successful settlement?

Of Heritage and Horses

What does the narrator learn about Natasha's Roma heritage, how others talk about it, and how it affects her?

Ellis Island Interpreter

What evidence suggests that Ellis Island interpreters were successful?

Let's Talk Language

How are people learning the language of their ancestors, and why might they be motivated to do so?

From Africa to Astoria by Way of Everywhere

Is the work of the National Geographic Project of value? Use key vocabulary from the article to support your answer.

Grades 6-8

Ellis Island: Stories

What do the families' experiences in the article indicate about the way the world was changing in the early twentieth century?

The Past Is Present: Just a Ferry Ride Away (Free)

Why was there a national effort to preserve and restore Ellis Island?

Grades 9-10

New Americans

Do Augustus Sherman's photographs accurately reflect the immigrant experience at Ellis Island?


We The Voters: Citizen Next (Free)

Why do some immigrants to the United States become citizens while others do not?

Leaving Baghdad: Culture Shock in America

According to the author, how does moving to a new culture alter one's personal identity?

Grades 11-12

Honduran Entrepreneur Helps Central American Immigrants Gain Legal Status in Mexico (Free)

What makes Nora Rodríguez a hero?

"Ellis Island History" and "The Oral History of Mary Margaret Mullins Gordon"

How does Mary Margaret Mullins Gordon's immigration story impact your understanding of the immigrant experience at Ellis Island?

Homeward Bound

How does the author explore themes of the impact of culture on intimacy through the story of her relationship with her grandmother?

Discovering That Christopher Colombus Is Persona Non Grata (Free)

How were the Italian immigrants able to overcome the opposition to the creation of a Columbus statue?

The Shadow of Kristallnacht (Free)

Does the author’s reference to Kristallnacht make a persuasive case in favor of expanding asylum today?

Talking Turkey About the Real First Thanksgiving (Free)

How did common Thanksgiving misconceptions begin and why do they continue today?

Mira Slovak, Cold War Defector Who Flew to Fame, Dies at 84 (Free)

What made Slovak a daredevil?

Mallory Busch
Mallory Busch

Mallory Busch is ThinkCERCA's Editor of Content Strategy. A graduate of Northwestern University, Mallory came to ThinkCERCA from stops in audience strategy at TIME magazine and news applications development at Chicago Tribune and The Texas Tribune. She holds degrees in Journalism and International Studies, and was a student fellow at Knight Lab in college.