Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America (Hardcover) by Martin W. Sandler. Scholastic, 2004. ISBN: 978-0439530828. pp: 144. Ages: 9-13, gr: 5-8

ArtExplosion

Summary

In this non-fiction story, Martin Sandler follows the lives of immigrants from 1892-1954 as they are processed at Ellis Island. Through Sandler’s written word, the voices and recollections of the immigrants, black-and-white photography, and compelling informational sidebars, Island of Hope describes the difficult journeys of the immigrants and the hardships they faced once they arrived in America. Once in America, the story emphasizes the positions of the children and teens who often picked up English and the new customs faster than their parents did, as they became the future of the new country.

Activities

Activity spanning the reading of the book - KWL chart - group activity
Before reading the story, complete the first two columns.
In the first section (Know), ask the students to fill out what they already know about Ellis Island and/or immigration. Give the students five minutes to write down their ideas on their chart and then have each student share one thing they know with the class.
In the second section (Want to Know), ask the students to fill out what they would like to know about Ellis Island and/or immigration. Give the students five minutes to write down their ideas on their chart and then have each student share one thing they want to know with the class.
After the story is finished, fill out the third section (Learned). Have each student share one thing that they learned with the class.

Before reading

  1. Virtual Tour of Ellis Island - group or individual activity
    View the tour of Ellis Island using a classroom computer projector or individual computer station.

  2. Graphing Family Interviews - group activity
    Each student interviews members of the family asking what they can tell about ancestors who came from other countries. Make a bar graph showing what countries of origin are represented in the class and the number of families from each one.

During reading

  1. Prompted Response Journals - group activity
    Put the students in reading circles with 4-5 students per group. Each day, after the students read a chapter or assigned pages of Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America in their groups, have them discuss what they just read. After discussion, give the students a prompt to respond to in their reading circle journal. Some prompts include:

    • Select an important character you read about today and write about the kind of person she or he is.
    • Choose a character you read about today and write about how you think they dealt with their experiences in a new country.
    • How is the setting important in this story?
    • Choose a character you read about today and write about how you would feel if you had to live a day in their life.
    • How were immigrants treated when they arrived in America?
    Each journal entry should have a heading that includes the date, the chapters read, and the question that they are answering. Each entry should be 2-3 paragraphs.
  2. Statue of Liberty (with pages 21-23) - group or individual activity
    Read one or more of these student reports:
    Try to solve one or more of these challenges.
  3. Tenement (with Chapter 5) - group or individual activity
    Look inside a New York tenement

After reading

  1. Review Ellis Island Facts - group or individual activity
    Read the Ellis Island Historical Overview to review the general information in Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America.

  2. Write a Letter as an Immigrant - group or individual activity
    Pretend you are an immigrant who just came to America, however, some of your family members did not make the journey to America with you. Write a letter to one of your family members that did not make the journey. The letter should include the following:

    • Details of the journey (how long it took, how you treated, where you slept, what you ate, etc.).
    • A description of your new home.
    • What new customs and foods you like in America.
    • What the people are like in America.
    • Should the rest of their family come to America? Why or why not?
    Write your letter in a standard format, including the date, a formal greeting (Dear XX), a body of the letter, and a formal closing (Love, XX).
  3. My Ellis Island Book - group or individual activity
    Fold a standard size sheet of paper in half to make a booklet with a cover and three pages. On the cover write "My Ellis Island Book" as a title and your name as the author. Think of three interesting facts about Ellis Island. On each page, draw a picture for one of your facts at the top half of the page and write 2 or 3 sentences for the fact on the bottom half of the page.

Extension Activities

  1. Culture Quilt - group activity
    Hand out 10-inch squares of white construction paper to each student.
    Using markers, crayons or colored pencils, have students create images on their quilt square that represent their family culture.
    Allow students to work on this project at home so they can use materials such as photographs or food packaging if they desire.
    On the due date, have each student present their square to the class, explaining why they included each item on their square.
    After each student presents, reinforce their squares with cardboard. When all squares are ready, use a hole punch to make holes around the edges. Lace the quilt panels together with yarn.
    Hang the class quilt on the wall for students to see.

  2. Hall of Fame - group activity
    Each student dues a research project on an individual who immigrated to America and has made important contributions to the country since their arrival. (Note to teacher: Hand the students a list of possible people to research, however, let them know that they are not limited to the list and may choose their own person.) Students search for biographies of the individuals using reference materials from the library or from online sources. Each student should provide the following information:
    • a photograph or other likeness of the person
    • the birthplace of the person
    • when the person came to America and how
    • 1 or 2 paragrah explanation of his/her accomplishments
    Students present their research to the class and hand in their work. Hang each project on the classroom bulletin board to create a Hall of Fame of immigrants who have made important contributions to America.
  3. Cultural Project - group activity
    Have students talk to their family to research their heritage. Ask students to investigate their family tree, customs, how and when their family came to America, and foods that have their origins in the country their ancestors lived in before coming to America.
    With their research in hand, allow the students to choose one of the following ways to present information on their family/culture to the class:

    • Prepare and bring in a dish for the class that has origins in the country your ancestors lived in before coming to America. Tell the class the history of this recipe and any special family occasions the dish is prepared for.
    • Write a paper on your ancestor(s) that first came to America. The paper should include the following information:
      • when they came to America.
      • how they came to America.
      • who they came to America with.
      • where they came to America from.
      • their first impressions of America.
      • what they did when they came to America (what did they do for a job, where did they live, etc.).
      • any other interesting information you learn from your research.
    • Write a 1-page paper on the country your ancestors lived in before coming to America. To accompany the paper, draw a picture of the country.
    • Come up with your own fun way to share with your class either the experience of your family in coming to America or the culture of your family.
  4. Ellis Island vs. Angel Island - group or individual activity
    Not all immigrants came to America through Ellis Island. Many immigrants came to America through Angel Island. Research Angel Island. Compare Ellis Island and Angel Island.

  5. U.S. Immigration webpage - group of individual activity
    Explore the fifth grade project website U.S. Immigration. Create a single web page that would add to the information these fifth graders have presented (another topic from the book, another country of origin of immigrants).

  6. Sing Coming to America - group or individual activity
    student friendly lyric and music
    lyric and download Neil Diamond music

About the Author

Related books

See also the Themed Reviews on Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty.

More for the teacher

Links to other online guides for Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America.

Assessment

Island of Hope: The Story of Ellis Island and the Journey to America. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #78942 EN; Book Level 7.9; Points= 5.0
Reading Counts: Reading Level 6.5; Points= 15.0
Lexile Level 1200

Other related books: