Students and teachers are currently navigating a sea of uncertainty. We are struggling to connect with the world around us as we spend more time at home, away from friends and extended family. How are we going to teach our students? How will our lives look once the virus comes to an end?
Help your students face the uncertain future with lesson plans from the Tenement Museum in New York City.
Perhaps now more than ever, our students can relate to the questions early immigrants to the United States asked themselves. Even though their questions were motivated by different desires, we both wondered how to stay connected and navigate a brand new world. The Tenement Museum in New York City explores the impact of immigration on America, specifically New York. Here are a few highlights from the museum's current online exhibits and lesson plans that can help your students navigate these uncertain times.
In response to the Covid-19 virus, the Tenement Museum published an online exhibit that discusses contagious disease in New York City. The exhibit follows the stories of tenement building residents who lived (and died) during public health crises throughout history. The exhibit covers the 1860s through the 1990s and discusses illnesses like cholera, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS.
The Tenement Museum's Under One Roof exhibit explores the history of 103 Orchard Street. Though the neighborhood has stayed in the same place, it has gone by several names throughout the years (Lower East Side, Loisaida, Chinatown). This online exhibit offers images, videos, audio clips, and text to keep students engaged as they learn about the different people who lived on 103 Orchard during the 1900s.
This digital exhibit explains how Museum historians have used census records to learn about the residents of the Lower East Side. The United States first began taking a regular census in 1790, and the first census to report on immigration was completed in 1870. Using the census data from 103 Orchard Street and the rest of the Lower East Side, students can use this exhibit and accompanying lesson plans to examine primary documents and make inferences about early immigrants to America.
With PBS Media, the Tenement Museum created an interactive game so students can experience life as an immigrant at the turn of the twentieth century. Students play as Lena, a 14-year old Jewish girl who has just arrived from Minsk, Russia. Throughout the game, students will help Lena make decisions as she learns about America and raises money to support her family. You can also read about a similar story through the Tenement Museum website.
If there was nothing listed above that interested you, the Tenement Museum has other online lesson plans free for teachers. Not only are there full lesson plans with activities, but there are also Family Story unit plans. The Family Stories follow a specific family that lived in the Lower East Side as they struggle to live the "American Dream." Lesson plans are made for 4th grade and up and can be found on their website.
Interested in traveling to New York City with your students so they can experience the Tenement Museum in person? Take a look at some of our sample itineraries, and reach out to our Student Travel Consultants when you're ready to start planning!