The Ellis Island Experience in the eyes of our CDS 5th Graders

As part of the Unit of Inquiry on Where We Are in Place & Time, our 5th graders participated in an Ellis Island Simulation. 

During this simulation, our 5th graders were able to get hands-on experience of what it was like coming to America.

They had to experience waiting in line, going through the different stations of “inspections” (valuables, medical, government, legal and mental). They either were able to pass onto the “USS Patriot” or go into a holding area where they were not allowed to go onto the “USS Patriot.” 

Learn more about the Ellis Island experience through the comments of our of CDS 5th graders below.

"Today we went through an Ellis island simulation.  During the simulation, I was thinking about how stressful it must have been for the immigrants, especially the ones that got detained and had to wait for hours. I was also thinking that I would definitely not pass because of the language barrier. During the experience, I felt confused because we were not told anything about the simulation and I could not understand anything the teachers were saying. This simulation taught me how difficult and stressful it was to be an immigrant going through Ellis island."
- Anthony L.
"Today at school we experienced an Ellis Island simulation. What happened was that we were pretending to be at Ellis Island and going through the process of immigrating to America. I was thinking during my experience that it was so loud. I felt so stressed during the experience. What the experience taught me was that immigrants went through hard things during the process at Ellis Island. I can connect this experience to the Esperanza Rising book because she immigrated from Mexico to California."
- Donnie B.
"We just went through an Ellis Island simulation. I felt very stressed out because I didn’t speak Spanish. I was thinking how hard it was for immigrants to come to America. I was also thinking that if this wasn’t a simulation, it would’ve been very hard to solve the puzzle and go through the tests. I can connect this experience with what we’ve been learning because this is what they described in the texts we have been reading about Ellis Island.
- Gauri C.
"Today we experienced an Ellis Island simulation. What happened was we experienced what immigrants had to go through to get to America. It was hectic, loud, and crazy. During this experience I felt hectic trying to answer questions, trying to escape, also occasionally starting chants to escape. It was fun. In this experience, I realized how hard it was for people to come to America. This was important to our unit because now we know how the immigrants felt when they were at Ellis island."
- Hudson C.
"The answer to what just happened is the teachers and the staff who speak Spanish did a simulation of Ellis Island. The reason why they spoke Spanish is because most students do not speak Spanish. They spoke Spanish because it was supposed to represent English and how the immigrants did not understand English. I was thinking “wow this is really stressful”. It wasn’t as stressful for me because I already speak and understand Spanish. I felt very claustrophobic because there were people left and right. It was also very stressful. It taught me how back then it must have been so hard for immigrants mostly because the immigrants didn’t speak English and the guards spoke English. Also, it was hard because they could get sent back and their family would stay and they would be separated."
- Ifah A.
"Today at school I had to relive the feeling of the immigrants traveling to Ellis Island. It was really hard and I did not understand anything they were saying since they were speaking Spanish.  They also rushed everybody and were very strict. I was sent to the Holding Area for not doing what I was told because I did not understand the language. I felt helpless, but I escaped in the end. I learned that things were really tough for immigrants not knowing the language, being confused, and not knowing answers to the questions. I felt very rushed and was freaked out as the people spoke really fast and I did not understand.
- Sam L."
"Today I just experienced an Ellis Island simulation. My grade is studying immigration, and they just made a simulation of immigrating to America. During the simulation, I was thinking about how hard it was for immigrants and I understood how they felt. I felt confused because everyone was speaking another language. I felt scared because if I did the wrong thing, then I would get “deported “. We had to answer a sheet with all of the questions in Spanish. This experience taught me that it wasn’t easy to immigrate back then. I can definitely connect to the book Esperanza Rising because Esperanza was immigrating and she had to show her passport just like we had to do."
- Zoey L.

Thank you to the 5th-grade team and faculty/staff who helped make this stimulation happen.