Ellis Island Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Why is Ellis Island so pivotal in our country's history? This lesson plan uses a fact-filled text lesson to explain this while an activity gives students a chance at deeper analysis.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • outline the significance of Ellis Island
  • define immigration
  • analyze the immigration process used at Ellis Island


  • 1.5 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.


  • Paper copies of the text lesson Ellis Island: History & Facts
  • A quiz created using the quiz from the associated text lesson
  • A worksheet created using the following questions modeled after those that were asked of immigrants at Ellis Island:
  1. What is your name?
  2. How old are you?
  3. Are you male or female?
  4. Are you married or single?
  5. What is your occupation?
  6. Are you able to read and write?
  7. What country are you from?
  8. What is your race?
  9. What is the name and address of a relative from your native country?
  10. What is your final destination in America?
  11. Who paid for your passage?
  12. How much money do you have with you?
  13. Have you been to America before?
  14. Are you meeting a relative here in America? Who?
  15. Have you been in a prison or institution for care of the insane?
  16. Are you a polygamist? Are you an anarchist?
  17. Are you coming to America for a job? Where will you work?
  18. What is the condition of your health?
  19. Are you deformed or crippled?
  20. How tall are you?
  21. What color are your eyes? What color is your hair?
  22. Do you have any identifying marks? (scars, birthmarks, tattoos)
  23. Where were you born? (Country & City)
  24. Who was the first President of America?
  25. What are the colors of our flag?
  26. How many stripes are on our flag? How many stars?
  27. What is the 4th of July?
  28. What is the Constitution?
  29. What are the 3 branches of government?
  30. Which President freed the slaves?
  31. Can you name one of the 13 original Colonies?
  32. Who signs a bill into law?
  33. Who is the current President of the United States (in 1907)?

Key Vocabulary

  • Ellis Island
  • Immigration

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