English Dutch French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish


Immigrant Stories: Why we came, and what we brought with us

Mural with overlapping images of faces, hands holding things, silhouettes of people walking, and more.
Year Start
Year End

In this lesson on the experiences and contributions of immigrants to the United States, elementary students explore the reasons why people have made life changes in moving to a new country, both earlier in history and recently. Using primary sources spanning 100 years, students generate questions and look for answers. Students also interview adults in their lives or at school about their own immigration stories. This lesson was developed by teacher Matt Howell for a second grade class, but could easily work for older students as well.

Using their interviews and other research including primary and secondary sources, students will seek to discover reasons why their own family, or another family or group (contemporary or historical), came to the U.S., what they brought with them, and how their community benefits from immigrant contributions. Students will have a chance to share what they learned with each other, and can share their reports with civic leaders (and/or with their families as guests at a presentation). 

Designed to be accessible to English Learners at various levels, and adapted for use in a general classroom, this is an engaging project that allows students to develop skills in asking questions, planning research, and sharing their work and the stories of others in ways that develop the skills of active citizenship.