When Jessie Came Across the Sea Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest explores themes such as family, tradition, the value of education, and much more. In this lesson plan, students will read the book, answer questions and complete an engaging activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define vocabulary words associated with the book
  • discuss the challenges when relocating from one country to another
  • compare and contrast America with Europe during the time period of the storyline


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2

Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.


  • construction paper
  • markers


  • inspections
  • pushcarts
  • occupation
  • grand
  • crammed
  • logic
  • guidance
  • parlor
  • comfort
  • lace
  • together
  • swapped


  • Prior to this lesson, create a word wall of the vocabulary words. Pair students and ask them to define each word and discuss. Then review.
  • Begin the lesson by asking students if they would like to travel to another country and if so, why?
  • Then explain that they are going to read When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest which is about a little girl who traveled to a new country for better opportunities.
  • After students have read the book, pose the following questions:
    • Use three adjectives to describe Jessie. How is she similar and different from you?
    • Why does Jessie's grandmother believe America would be a better place for her to live? What challenges are they facing in Europe? Why?
    • Why do the village people call America 'the promised land'?
    • Describe the problems the people encountered on their way to America.
    • Discuss Jessie's new life in America. Is America all that she dreamed? Explain.

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