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McREL Standards Activity

The Welcome Wagon

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the immigrant experience.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Grades K-4 History
 Standard 3.Understands the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state
   Level II [Grade 3-4]
   Benchmark 5. Understands the reasons recent immigrants came to the state or region, what their lives were like, and their experiences of adjustment (e.g., problems and opportunities experienced in housing, the workplace, and the community)
Student Product:Report or worksheet
Material & Resources:No supplementary notes for this activity.
Teacher's Note:This activity is best used in conjunction with lessons on the American immigration experience. Students should have some understanding of the various stages of immigration in American history-- from Scotch-Irish immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries to the immigration of Vietnamese "Boat People" in the 1970’s.
The teacher invites immigrants to speak to the class. The speakers explain why they immigrated to the state or region, what their lives were like in their native countries, and what difficulties they’ve had in adjusting to life in the U.S. After each presentation, students write brief reports or complete worksheets to demonstrate what they’ve learned. The teacher should provide background instruction in the American immigration experience. He/she should familiarize the students with reasons people have immigrated to the U.S. in the past (famines, religious persecution, economic opportunity) and American reactions to this immigration (e.g. the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Ku Klux Klan’s stance on Catholic immigration, and the isolationist perspective of people like Pat Buchanan). In addition, the class should prepare questions to ask the speaker. The class should be given a primer in the reasons why the speaker may have come to the United States so that they can formulate appropriate questions (for example, if an Iranian-American is to speak to the class students should be aware of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, or if a recent immigrant from Russia is to speak the class needs to understand the fall of the USSR and the economic problems of the Russian Republic).