Boat Arriving at Ellis Island The Great Hall/Registry Room

Ellis Island National Monument
Resources and Suggestions for Teachers
Planning a Field Trip to Ellis Island

Visiting Ellis Island can be a rich and rewarding experience for any school group. In order to preserve and protect Ellis Island and ensure visitor safety, we ask groups to follow some basic rules and regulations during your visit. Please read these carefully.

Groups are different, and different classes have different needs. Nevertheless, the most successful class trips to Ellis Island usually involve three parts: 1-some pre-visit activities, 2-some carefully planned activities and/or programs during the visit to Ellis Island, and 3-some post-visit activities. What we have tried to do on this page is to list some resources and programs and to offer some of the tools necessary to make your class trip both productive and enjoyable. And if at any time during your planning, you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

  • Self-Guided Tours of the Exhibits at Ellis Island: The exhibits at Ellis Island are extensive. Many groups will plan their trips with a focus on particular exhibits at the museum. A Teacher Self-Guided Tour Booklet was developed in 2011 and may be helpful for many groups. For those who want to develop their own tours or programs, here is a summary of the main exhibits at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum:
    • Ellis Island Floor Plan
    • 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 Americaís 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 leavingor 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.

  • Documentary Film: "Island of Hope, Island of Tears" is an award winning 30-minute documentary film preceded by a 15- minute "Ranger talk". The program is shown at regularly scheduled times in two theaters. Each theater seats 140 people. Tickets are required during high visitation periods and are available at the Ellis Island information desk at NO CHARGE. Certain theater shows are reserved for student groups on weekdays only. Educators should contact the reservations coordinator at (877)523-9849 for more information.

  • "Shore to Shore": This curriculum-based educational program focuses on America's immigration history between the years 1892 and 1954. Through pre- and post-visit activities, a ranger program, and hands-on activity stations, students will explore the nation's mass wave of immigration; the importance of Ellis Island in our nation's immigration story is emphasized. This 90-minute program is offered Tuesday - Friday. (September through June), and is appropriate for grades 4-6. Maximum class size is 40. Class preparation, Internet access, and completion of pre-visit activities are required before on-site visit. Please contact the reservation coordinator at (877) 523-9849, download our Shore to Shore Teacherís Guide , and review some of the On-line activity support material for educators.

  • The "Immigration Game Zone": This 90-minute curriculum-based program takes a comprehensive look at the many facets of immigration through Ellis Island during its busiest period (1890's - 1924). The 3-tiered program includes a brief introduction and/or video segment, a ranger-guided tour, and an interactive question-and-answer game show. The program is offered Monday through Friday (September through June), and is appropriate for kids in grades 4-8. Maximum capacity is 48. Class preparation, Internet access, and completion of pre-visit activities are required before on-site visit. For information & reservations call: (877) 523-9849. Also, please download our Game Zone Educator Program Guide or our Game Zone Educator Program Guide (8.5x11 inch format).

  • Wall of Honor: Students can view the American Immigrant Wall of Honor just outside the main building while enjoying the view of New York Cityís skyline. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a permanent exhibit of individual or family names featured at Ellis Island in New York Harbor. It is the only place in the United States where an individual can honor his or her family heritage at a National Monument.

  • The Junior Ranger Program: Recommended for ages 7-12. This self-guided program gives children an opportunity to learn about Ellis Island, and our Nation's vast immigration heritage. Use the booklet to complete fun activities that teach children about the National Park Service and this site and why it is important to protect and preserve this National Monument. The booklet takes about 1 hour to complete and is currently available at the Ellis Island information desk. You can also download and print the Ellis Island Junior Ranger booklet prior to your visit, although this is an on-site activity program only.

  • Some Possible Previsit Activities:

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