Ellis Island Field Trips

Resources For Teachers Planning a Field Trip to Ellis Island

Shore to Shore
Grades 4-6
Students in grades 4-6 learn about immigration at Ellis Island through re-creating experiences immigrants by participating in hands-on activities. The 90-minute program consists of a ranger-guided tour and several activity stations. This program is offered Tuesday – Friday during the school year (September through June) and requires class preparation and the completion of pre-visit activities before the on-site visit. This program is limited to 40 students. (Free)

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Also, download our Shore to Shore Educator Program Guide

Immigration Game Zone
Grades 4-8
Students in grades 4-8 learn about immigration at Ellis Island during its peak years (1892-1924) during this 90-minute program. A ranger explains the process of immigrating through Ellis Island while taking students through the resource, followed by an interactive question and answer game. This session tests what they have learned while presenting the information in another format and reinforcing the educational experience. The program is offered weekdays during the school year and requires the completion of pre-visit activities before the on-site visit. This program is limited to 48 students. (Free)

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Also, download our Game Zone Educator Program Guide or the Game Zone Educator Program Guide in 8.5x11 format.

Documentary Film
Students of all ages can watch Island of Hope, Island of Tears. This award-winning documentary film reveals why and how millions of immigrants journeyed across the world to Ellis Island with the hope of a better life for them-selves and their descendants. The program, which includes a 15-minute ranger talk followed by the 30-minute documentary, begins at 11:00 and 12:00 and is strictly limited to 140 people; no standing. Other unreserved times are also available. (Free)

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Teachers can also access “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” at www.archive.org/details/gov.ntis.ava15996vnb1 The documentary is available in different formats so it is easily usable for showing in the classroom as either a pre or post visit activity.

Audio Tour

Audio Tour for Groups
Available for both islands

Students of all ages can learn about the Ellis Island Immigration Museum exhibits and/or the Statue of Liberty (available for both outside grounds and pedestal/museum access) listening to the audio tour. The tour is available in English Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. Purchase along with your ferry tickets in advance or during your visit. (Nominal fee)

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Self Guided Tour
Students and chaperones can explore the museum’s three floors of exhibits. Learn more about the history of Ellis Island and the lives of those millions of people who were processed here. Pick up a map and brochure at the park Information Desk. View the galleries in any order or begin on the third floor, continue on the second floor, and conclude your tour on the first floor. Make sure to visit the Registry Room and the exhibit entitled “Through America’s Gate.” A package of material for a teacher-led curriculum based program through the Ellis Island exhibits is currently under development.

A summary of the main exhibits at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum:

  • The Peopling of America: (1st Floor) Focuses on many of the statistics of immigration. Who came from where and when?
  • The Great Hall (also known as the Registry Room): The main room used for the processing of immigrants, and the room most often seen in movies and historical photographs.
  • Through America’s Gate: (2nd Floor) Perhaps one of the most interesting exhibits at Ellis Island---leading visitors through the process of arriving at Ellis Island, being examined, and then leaving or being detained.
  • Peak Immigration Years: (2nd Floor) The historical and cultural milieu in both Europe and the United States during the Peak Immigration Years of 1890 to 1924. Includes information about the changing immigration legislation and policies, and ends with interactive naturalization tests.
  • Ellis Island Chronicles: (3rd Floor) Models and pictures of the constant changes in the size and use of Ellis Island, and the architectural history of the island.
  • Treasures from Home: (3rd Floor) A display of some of the things people brought with them to America and Ellis Island.
  • Restoring a Landmark: (3rd Floor) Pictures and displays of Ellis Island before it was restored.

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