Education: Heritage Discovery Center

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Teachers' Guide: During your Visit

Push and Pull of Immigration

What was it like to be an immigrant?

Materials for this lesson
Readings Activities Primary sources
  • The exhibit offers many possibilities for learning more by reading detailed labels

 

     ** Referenced PA Standards **

  • "Packing Your Trunk" gallery activity
  • Role-playing their characters as they go through the exhibit
  • Love-Hate List
  • Steamer trunk
  • Photographs, artifacts, interviews, and documents in the exhibit "Through Immigrants' Eyes"

On the way to the museum (or just before leaving)

Ask students to get out their homework assignment: their packing list on the "Move It On Out" worksheet. Directions:

At the museum

Your museum visit will be most effective if you divide your class into smaller groups (groups of five or six work well).

Let the museum staff know that you have been preparing for your visit using the Push-Pull activities on this Web site. Tell them that the students already have their character assignments, so they can make sure students receive the correct ID card for their characters. They will need to present the ID at various points in the exhibit to receive customized feedback for their characters.

"Packing Your Trunk" gallery activity

In the first gallery of the exhibit "Through Immigrant Eyes," your class will follow up on their packing list activity as they wait their turns to enter the rest of the exhibit. This activity was specifically designed as a way to avoid a bottleneck as students individually put their ID cards into the Ellis Island kiosk. If you did not have students complete the "Move It On Out" worksheet in preparation for this activity, see below for a modified version.

Either you or the museum docent can lead this activity. Be sure to inform your docent that you have the worksheets with you, if you wish for s/he to conduct the discussion.

In the gallery is a steamer trunk just like the trunks most immigrants used; assemble the group around the trunk.

Discuss:

This is a steamer trunk just like the one most immigrants packed with everything they brought with them to America. Look at your packing list (the "Move It On Out" worksheet):

  • How many of your belongings would fit in the trunk?
    • How much of your "must have" list would fit into the trunk?
    • How much of your "nice to have" list would fit (after the "must haves" are packed of course!)?
  • If everything won't fit, what would you leave behind? How do you decide what is most important?
  • What things on your "must have" list do you really need? What could you do without?
  • What things could you get after you arrive? How much money will you need to buy those things?
  • What else could you do? [do without; team up with someone you can share with; buy another trunk and pay a lot more for baggage; have it shipped later, etc.]

Modified version

If students did not complete the "Move It On Out" worksheet prior to coming to the museum, conduct a modified discussion. Having paper and pencils available might make the mental list-making easier for students.

Discuss:

This is a steamer trunk just like the one most immigrants packed with everything they brought with them to America.

  • If you were moving to another place, what would you need to take with you? Make a mental list of your absolutely, most-important, can't-do-without-it must-have things. Make another mental list of your things that would be "nice to have," but that you could live without.
    • How much of your "must have" list would fit into the trunk?
    • How much of your "nice to have" list would fit (after the "must haves" are packed of course!)?
  • If everything won't fit, what would you leave behind? How do you decide what is most important?
  • What things on your "must have" list do you really need? What could you do without?
  • What things could you get after you arrive? How much money will you need to buy those things?
  • How well do you think you would do with the number of belongings an immigrant in 1900 brought with them?

Continuing through the rest of the exhibit

Give students a few goals to achieve while they go through the exhibit. Remind them to continue to look for push-pull factors that might apply to their characters.

Love-Hate List

Ask students to pay special attention to the "pull" factors: what did their characters find attractive about the USA? Directions:

This will be good preparation for the follow-up lesson "Pursuing the American Dream."

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