Tracing Our Roots

I am big on "At Home" projects.  I like that the students have a chance to budget their own time (something critical for when they move on to middle school), that they get to work with their parents on a school related project, and that they will have a great project, made with materials they found at home, as an end product.

Now I know there are some people who feel they can never grade something that a child did at home because they don't know how much input a parent had.  Well, I honestly have never had that problem.  My students are doing the work.  They have *help*, but I haven't received a project that was completed solely by a parent (or if I have, it has not be evident in the least ;) )

Anyway, that is not what this post is about.  Back to the subject....

Heritage is a unit that we teach through our reading series in 5th grade.  The unit is jampacked with stories of different people, where they come from, and how their culture influences who they are today.  As it just so happens, our ELD (English Language Development) unit is about Immigration and the reasons people would want to come to the United States.  These two themes go so perfectly together that I thought I would create an at home assignment to round it all off!

Click here to access the project.
Since many of my students are immigrants, or second/third generation here in the United States, I had them start with an interview of someone who immigrated to the United States.  Most had access to their own parents, grandparents, or other relatives that they could interview.  For those few that didn't, I allowed them to interview a neighbor or even a teacher at our school who immigrated.

Next, the students needed to write a report about the country of origin they most identify with.  I use myself as an example.  My great-grandparents on my father's side both immigrated from Russia at the turn of the 20th century.  On my mother's side there is a slew of European countries that are represented.  However, the Russian side of my family was the most prominent while I was growing up.  Russia is the country I most identify with as having "originated" in.  The students need to choose one of the countries they most identify with.

The final piece of this project was to create a parade float representing the immigration journey from the "home" country to the United States. The directions I cut and pasted from Enchanted Learning, however the requirements I made specific to the project.  These floats were so varied and came out so amazing!  Students put pictures of their relatives, artifacts from the country they creative!  We then presented the floats to the school in a "parade" (as you can see in the picture below.

To keep the kids on track, I had them periodically (about once a week) turn in a "check in form" to me.  This let me know what questions they had, what materials they needed, and helped me to see that they were actually doing the project.

Overall, this project was successful in getting the students to think about their roots, as well as connect our literature unit with our ELD unit.  They walked away from it with a greater appreciation of their own family as well, which was the ultimate goal.

1 comment

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I have given you the Liebster Award! Come to my website at and pick up your award and learn how to pass it on! Jennifer Ayers


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