This unit is an introduction to immigration to the United States from 1840-1920 or so. This time period saw a record number of immigrants come to the US as many were fleeing persecution and poor economic conditions in their home countries.

The unit is designed for fairly capable 5th and 6th grade students. Students will be reading and analyzing primary source documents to discover what the immigrant experience was like. At the end, students will do a project that will allow them to share their learning about the immigrant experience, as well as take a formal assessment on what they learned.

This unit does not cover the more recent waves of immigration from the 1970s to the present day. It is recommended that students get the opportunity to study more recent immigrant groups -- Hmong, Mexicans, Laotians, Vietnamese, Somali, etc. -- with the goal of finding similarities and differences in the experiences of these groups and those that came in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Finally, for reasons of time and space and age level, this is not considered to be an all-encompassing unit. Immigration is a complex and controversial topic, and in our history there were many laws made to both encourage and discourage immigration. These laws and this aspect of our history are not covered here but could be an additional area of learning for students.

Tim Kaari
Bloomington Public Schools
Bloomington, MN