There is No Place Like Home! 
U.S. Immigration in the 1800's

Kraig B. Hannurn Poultney High School

Lesson Plan Grades 5-8

Introduction: This is an introductory lesson for a unit on U.S. immigration in the late l800's. Some European immigrants tried to settle in American regions that were geographically similar to their homelands. In this lesson, students will use maps to compare the physical geography and industry of different European countries to that of the U.S. Students will use critical thinking skills to help them better understand why people move where they do.

Objectives: The student will be able to identify and describe the settlement patterns of European immigrants to the U.S.

Geographic Themes: Movement

Geographic Standards: National Standard Number 12 (processes. patterns. and functions of human settlements). and State Standard Number 6.8 (movements and settlements)

Time: 1-2 class periods


(1) Wall map of the United States

(2) Thematic maps of Europe and the U.S., available either in:
A. Continent Explorer II CD-ROM by Pierian Spring Software (school packages for $59 and school site licenses for $499, call (800) 472-8578), and a Macintosh LCIII computer (or better) with CD-ROM drive, or,

B. Individual or atlas maps of 6 to 8 European countries, showing physical and industrial features, and maps of the U .S. showing physical and industrial features (one European country map and one U.S. map for each group of 3 or 4 students).


(1) Divide students into groups of 3 or 4 (if computers are used, use groups no larger than 3). Each group will have a presenter, a recorder, and a timekeeper. All group members will contribute ideas and information.

(2) Read the scenario to the class:


You and your group members are from a country in present-day Europe. For reasons unknown to you, your families wish to emigrate to the United States. You have been asked for your input to help them pick the place in which to settle. It must be a place that will make your families feel, geographically, most at home. What kind of climate are you used to? What is your native landscape like? What kind of jobs do the people in your country perform? There are many things you must consider before a spot can be chosen. Wherever you choose, you must be prepared to justify your decision to your family. Good luck!

(3) Assign each group a country from the list below:

Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Poland

(4) Have students go into Continent Explorer II and click on the world maps until they reach their assigned country .They can view the map based on geographic features and industrial regions. Have them do the same with the United States. If computers are not being used, hand each group the map(s) of their country and the map(s) of the United States.

(5) Have students make lists of the similarities and differences between both the physical geography and the industry of the two countries.

(6) After all the lists are complete, have them choose a location in the United States that they feel would be the most like their home country .

(7) Each group will present their findings to the class and point out their location on the wall map of the United States.

Evaluation: Teacher observation to determine how well the group presents themselves and their ideas to the class.

- Gold: Students worked as a group to list multiple similarities and differences between the countries. Their selection of a settlement location was based on very good reasons as cited by their notes.

- Silver: Students worked as a group to list several similarities and differences between the countries. Their selection of a settlement location was based on good reasons as cited by their notes.

- Bronze: Students worked as a group to list some similarities and differences between the countries, but with some effort, they could have come up with more. Their selection of a settlement location was based weakly on reasons from their notes.

- Copper: Students could have worked better as a group to do their work. They did not list many similarities and differences, and their settlement location was not based on reasons from their notes.

Follow-up: Present a lesson in U.S. history explaining where different groups did in fact settle in the U.S., and the various factors involved.