Students write about Immigration Trunk Day

Westerly third-graders Kate, Bea, Karis and Julia pose as Polish immigrants just off the ship.

My third-graders at Westerly School in Bay Village learn about immigrants during the period that Ellis Island was open. Students get a chance to compare life today with life in the past. Throughout this integrated unit, the students learn about immigrants from fiction and nonfiction texts as well as going on a virtual tour of Ellis Island. They learn to write letters and poems related to immigration.

As a culminating activity, the students participate in "trunk day." Each student is assigned a country and they learn about real immigrant families that settled in the Cleveland area. Each group has a chance to explore trunks or suitcases with artifacts, journals, logs and more. Here are two summary paragraphs written by two of my students. 

Trunk Day by Kate Kontis-Gleydura

Long ago, people came from other countries to Ellis Island, then to America to have a better life. On trunk day, Julia, Bea and I were in a group to learn about a Polish family. First, we looked in the trunk on the table. The first thing we saw was an old doll in a little dress. Then we filled out the worksheet about the Kniola family. They were immigrants living in Cleveland a long time ago. Then we dressed up. I wore a very long, green and black dress. Next, we tried food from six different countries! My favorite food was little, tiny rolls with powder on them called Russian Tea Cakes. Then we got our pictures taken dressed in our immigrant clothes. Last, but not least, we answered some questions on stage to teach everyone about our Polish family. I have a question for you. Are you an immigrant?

Trunk Day by Jacob Owens

I think that you should have Trunk Day. It is when you go to different centers and do worksheets and eat food from different countries. I was from Hungary (not really). We got to dress up in clothes from the suitcases. Most of them were grown-up clothes. I hated the food except for these cookies called pizzelles from Italy. I learned about life in America through letters to Hungary. There were other notes from the trunks to help us. The Vaskos were an interesting family to learn about. Does this sound like fun?

Kristen Thomas

Third Grade teacher at Westerly School in Bay Village.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:50 AM, 05.17.2016