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Gladwyne Elementary School


Gladwyne Students Explore Cultures, Celebrate Diversity with Ellis Island Reenactment

As part of their recent study of immigration, Gladwyne Elementary School second grade students participated in a recreation of what immigrants experienced upon arrival at Ellis Island, the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station, which processed more than 12 million arrivals from 1892 to 1954. Students dressed in contemporary clothes as they "arrived by boat" with their suitcases before going through the immigration procedures, including a "line inspection" of cursory medical examinations from doctors. 

Teachers began the unit with an exploration of maps as students learned how their homes are on streets in neighborhoods, which are part of communities that comprise towns within states, countries, continents and hemispheres. Students then learned more specifics about maps of the United States and the world-at-large.

Students were also assigned a mini-genealogy project as they were tasked with learning about the origins of their family’s ancestry. When students finished collecting their respective familial information, classes analyzed the data and participated in discussions on cultural similarities and differences among the diverse array of heritages. Some of the takeaways from the unit as noted by students were that some families came to the United States to avoid persecution, others were brought against their will and many came in search of a better life. Ultimately, students learned that America is a place of opportunity comprised of an eclectic melting pot of cultures and customs. To view a slideshow of pictures from Ellis Island Day at Gladwyne, click on the image below!

A student eats some Cheez-Its while waiting in line at Ellis Island
Elena Carlson's second graders pose for a class photo during their Ellis Island reenactment