First Stop: The American Dream


Students will research different jobs associated with Ellis Island and complete a project demonstrating their knowledge of these jobs. The students will understand the jobs' importance and how these jobs facilitated immigration to the United States.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will examine various occupations of people who worked on Ellis Island. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the occupations to Ellis Island. Students will create a product that demonstrates knowledge about these occupations.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Three
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of American history.

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse
  • Reverse
  • Inspector
  • Clerk
  • Interpreter
  • Aid Worker
  • Nurse
  • Doctor



  • Make copies of necessary materials.
  • Review with the students how to complete the "Ellis Island Profiles" worksheet.
  • Address and highlight any unfamiliar or new vocabulary from the discussion and record it on a chart.
  • Bookmark Web sites to guide students to exactly where you want them to research, such as:


Lesson Steps

  1. Describe the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for background information. The program is described at /learn/coin-and-medal-programs/america-the-beautiful-quarters. Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the reverse, and "obverse" is another name for the front. With the students, examine the 2017 Ellis Island Quarter; locate the site on a class map. Answer any student questions.
  2. Give a brief and age-appropriate description of Ellis Island and its importance in American History. Mention that over 12 million immigrants came to America this way, and how many people worked at Ellis Island to make this happen.
  3. Lead the students in a discussion about what kind of jobs people might have had at Ellis Island.
  4. Display the "Ellis Island Profiles" worksheet and review it with the students.
  5. Using available text and Internet resources, allow the students time to research these occupations. Have the students record their findings on the "Ellis Island Profiles" worksheet.
  6. Have the students complete the "Ellis Island Occupations" worksheet to summarize what they found.
  7. Have the students think about what they would ask someone who has a particular occupation. Have the students complete the "Ellis Island Interview" worksheet.
  8. Have the students present the results from the worksheets to the class and have each decide which project to complete on Ellis Island occupations.
  9. Have the students work independently on their selected projects and then present them to the class.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work in small groups or pairs.
  • Allow students to use a scribe to complete their worksheets.


  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheets and projects to see whether the lesson objectives have been met.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate performance on the final product.

Common Core Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.