By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member
From the first English settlers in the 1600s to modern-day pioneers representing every corner of the globe, immigration has been a cornerstone to what makes American society unique and prosperous. The United States can attribute its progress and greatness to the diversity of cultures and people that have made this country home.
The early foundations of America were laid out by the talents and sacrifices of Native Americans, British, Africans, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Scottish and countless other nations. Name any country and there is surely a significant influence it has had on America’s past as well as present.
The plight of today’s immigrants is no different from those of the past – the United States offers a new home full of freedom, opportunity, peace, justice, and a chance to thrive.
Curriki has curated resources to help students understand the importance of immigration on US history.
- “Who Should We Let In?”
Alexandria Lau, from the Ambassador School of Global Leadership in Los Angeles, offers a collection of resources including a lesson plan, PowerPoint presentation, case studies, political cartoons, and a writing assessment. This curriculum was created for upper-level California students with specific emphasis on the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Bracero Program (allowing Mexicans to immigrate to work in the California agricultural industry).
- Immigration Resources
This collection includes middle school and high school lesson plans focusing on topics such as Japanese internment, the Asian-American experience, oral history, and the meaning of ethnicity.
- National Geographic: Immigration
This collection from National Geographic includes 41 resources on diverse topics such as resettling Vietnamese refugees in the United States and global patterns of human migration.
- Immigration Oral History from PBS Independent Lens
This lesson plan from PBS guides students in conducting interviews to learn first-hand the experiences on immigration.
- Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
Smithsonian’s History Explorer offers this reviewed K-12 resource on Angel Island, the Pacific gateway to U.S. immigration. Educational resources include personal stories of immigrants to the Pacific coast.
- Map: Immigration to the U.S. in the late 1800s
This downloadable map from National Geographic displays the immigration routes from various countries from 1870 to 1900.
- Liberty Belle’s Immigration Nation Game
This online interactive game from iCivics has students guide newcomers along their path to citizenship. Students learn the range of allowable circumstances for legal residence and the requirements for naturalization and full citizenship.
- Ellis Island-History of Immigration to the United States
This award-winning 30-minute documentary covers the single largest migration of immigrants to the United States of America through Ellis Island between 1890 and 1920.
- What Lady Liberty and Ellis Island Mean Today
This video from National Geographic profiles Ellis Island, the U.S. gateway from distant countries, and its reopening after damage from Hurricane Sandy.
- Virtual Field Trip to Ellis Island
Scholastic offers this exploratory video of Ellis Island and its significance to American immigration.
- Growth, Cities, and Immigration: Crash Course US History
This video teaches students about the massive immigration to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.