Friday, June 29, 2012

All the Way to America & a freebie!

All the Way To America:
The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
by Dan Yaccarino

Last year my Social Studies curriculum was changed.  The most challenging but fun part of the new curriculum for me has been teaching immigration.  Up until a year ago, I taught American History from Indians through the Civil War.  I loved it and was disappointed when the wars especially were taken from my list!  I also wondered how to teach history, but not sequentially.  Now I would have to pass by all of the {super fun} war stuff and skip from colonial studies to immigration. 

At the beginning of the year, I sadly packed up my "Schoolhouse Rock" videos, my scripts, props, and costumes for plays about the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere, the "Liberty's Kids" videos (goodbye Ben Franklin as played by Walter Cronkite ~ *sniff*), and bravely went on a search for new videos, plays, songs and books to help me make Immigration come alive for my students.  I'm not going to lie; it was a bust.  My heart wasn't in it, there was a lot of upheaval at my school, and I just didn't do a great job.

So this summer, I have recommitted myself to my students and the curriculum and have spent hours on the internet and at the library searching and developing great lessons.  Recently I came across this book on the New Book shelf at the library.  It's really cute and will be a great introduction for my students.

All the Way to America is the true story of the author's family beginning with his great-grandfather who immigrated from Italy through Ellis Island to start a new life with a shovel and advice from his mother: "Work hard, but remember to enjoy life, and always remember your family."  The story continues by following four generations of the Yaccarino family and the shovel that has been passed down through the years.  It is a great discussion starter, and hopefully it will make my students question where their families have come from!  I Loved it!  

There is also an All the Way to America blog!  It's not so popular yet, but I thought that would be a great authentic audience for my students to share the stories of their families at the end of the unit! Can't wait!

My school and students are very lucky to have a well-stocked library.  As soon as I read this book, I knew it would be a great springboard into the novels available in my library and the school's.  I made this quick activity that the students can do during library class to explore some of the books we have just waiting to be read!  You can download the activity for free by clicking this link or the picture.  If you download it, please let me know what you think.  I hope you can use it and your students love exploring these books!


6 comments :

Frugalteacher said...

My daughter and I performed in Peter Boyer's "Ellis Island" a few months. It is a symphonic piece that includes the stories of immigrants who came through Ellis Island. I portrayed Lillian Galetta, an Italian immigrant. I performed it for my 2nd graders and it really helped them understand the concept of immigration. I also read "Coming to America" by Betsy Maestro. I really love this subject and try to share my passion for it with my students!

Ruth S. said...

When I started reading your post, I thought I had written it!! Guess what? Our social studies curriculum was changed too!! I also taught American Indians up through the Civil War and couldn't imagine the change. I agree with your first comment that "Coming to America" by Betsy Maestro is a great book to use for immigration. This is a great site. I've read all the books on this page. I especially love Jean Fritz's "Homesick" and Russell Freeman's "Immigrant Kids"
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/375083-stories-about-immigration

Lynn Kasserman said...

I completely forgot about Homesick! I have a whole classroom set of those; thanks for the reminder! I used to have a set of Immigrant Kids, but sent them away after I didn't use them the first 3 years I first started teaching. Who knew!?!?!

Kelly said...

I love this - now I have a ton of books added to my wish list! LOL!

Tricia said...

Thanks for the great recommendations.

Tricia

Kristin Kennedy said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog and for following! I am your newest follower.:)

Kristin
iTeach 1:1

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