Friday, September 19, 2008

Ellis Island for Third Grade

May's class (and all the other 3rd grade classes) acted out the process of arriving at Ellis Island via ship, and going through the immigration process (Baggage Room, Information Room, Medical Room, Deportation, and Welcome to America!) a few days ago.

I volunteered in May's classroom, which was the Medical Room. A long and winding line of kids arrived in front of me, and one-by-one, I asked them these questions

* Have you ever had chicken pox?
* Have you had a chicken pox shot?
* Have you ever been hospitalized? If so, what for?
* Do you have problems with:

Heart

Feet

Eyes

Walking/Limping

Face

Mental Illness

I had a LOT of fun asking the question of whether the child had problems with their FACE! LOL!! :-) Also, I looked at them sideways when I asked about their mental health (I know a lot about mental health problems - believe me!!)

The kids carried a brown paper bag from Safeway as their baggage. They were to pack the things they would need for the journey back then (no electronics, etc.). They had things like changes of clothing, stuffed toys, dolls, food, photos, books, etc. They dressed in old fashioned clothing and many of the girls had their hair in buns or braids. Lots of the boys had hats on.

The kids were so nervous about getting all the steps right and being allowed into America. They were so serious and determined. It was HARD for me to mark any "negatives" down on their medical forms. Just a small handful played like they were sick, and seemed to want to get that noted as they moved along to the "doctor" (May's fabulous teacher).

It was AMAZING to me how many kids would disclose to me their REAL LIFE medical issues and hospitalizations. I got to learn which ones had heart surgeries, broken bones, too-fast growing fingernails (no, really! I know and trust this girl.), eczema, and countless tonsils out. Only a very few had experienced chicken pox. And, I got to explain that having the chicken pox shot (there are actually two shots now) is a GOOD thing. (I hope there are no crazy anti-shot moms reading this! Hee! No offense, Crazy Anti-Shot Moms.) (OK - I was going to leave that at that. BUT - one of my children carries a communicable virus. It is NOT a big deal. She is HEALTHY. This is a greater risk to HER than to anyone else. Once her body discovers the virus and fights it, there are greater health risks to HER. There is a shot to protect against this virus! If YOU do not see to it that YOURSELF and YOUR child are fully immunized, then YOU are putting your child and yourself at risk in this world. Period. Fact. The End. Crazy People. Sigh.)

But, I digress ...

(Take a breath, Holly. Sheesh!)

It was a GREAT exercise for the third grade kids to be in a huge mass of people, moving slowly along the complex process. Most making it into America, but some being deported. :-(

I was so thankful that May did not get deported. This is an exercise, but immigration is real and personal to kids who have actually DONE it. :-)

ANYWAY -- here are some photos of the experience. In the first two shots, May's teacher is reading to her class from a book that has letters from people who actually immigrated. It was a great thing to hear! I need to find out what the name of the book is, so we can read it. May is in a white sweater and dark long skirt. She can be spotted easily, because she is beside her friend with the turquiose sweater. (Except in one photo, where I caught her beside my possible future son-in-law, Camello - I hope I spelled that right. Carmello? He is a great boy. He is on my short list of boys who I would love to have as a future son-in-law, should May grow up to be heterosexually marriage inclined. She has a lot of time before she makes those choices.).




1 comment:

Julie said...

This was such a COOL little activity and history lesson for the class - I wish WE had done stuff like this in 3rd grade!

And as a former employee of Children's Hospital - I COMMEND your soapbox about vaccinations. It is really important that people understand what is at risk and that the risk extends beyond just THEIR child!