Title: Immigrants in the Mountain State

Author: Kathryn Stalnaker

Big Ideas: Discover the patterns and effects that immigration has had on West Virginia.

Essential Question: How have immigration and the immigrants helped build and shape West Virginia’s economy and future?



Social Studies


SS.5.WV.1 reconstruct the economic, social and political history of West Virginia through the use of primary documents..


SS.5.WV.5 identify and explain the significance of historical experiences and of geographical, social and economic factors that have helped to shape both West Virginia’s and America’s societies.


SS.5.H.CL5.3 explain the causes and effects of immigration and urbanization on the American economy during the Industrial Revolution (e.g., roles of immigrants, the growth of cities, shift to industrialization, rise of big industry and reform movements, etc.).


SS.5.E.3 critique the economic reasons for immigration and migration throughout the United States during specific times in history and relate the information to the present (e.g., Great Migration, Ellis Island, etc.).


English Language Arts


ELA.5.R.C3.5 integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


ELA.5.W.C9.3 write a narrative to develop real or imaginary experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences

  • orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters, organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
  • use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters in situations.
  • use a variety of transitional verbs, phrases and clauses to manage the sequence of events
  • use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely
  • provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events


ELA.5.W.C10.1 produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose and audience (grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in objectives 1-3 in Text Types and Purposes) (CCSS W.5.4)


ELA.5.W.C10.2 with guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, re-writing, or trying a new approach (editing conventions should demonstrate command of Language objectives up to and including grade 5) (CCSS W.5.5)


Imagine that you are an immigrant coming to America between the years of 1860 and 1945. Choose a country of your ancestor and research what events would have caused them to leave their home country to come to the United States and eventually settle in West Virginia. Write a story telling why you left your country, describe your trip to the U.S., your experience coming through Ellis or Angel Island*, where you settled in West Virginia, and what your life is like in your “new country.” The story should include a cover, flag from the country of origin, map of the country of origin with the capital and home city marked, and a neatly written narrative.


*Prior to assigning the above activity, students should be given background information about immigration and Ellis Island.


Weaving can be done by cutting notches (or slits) in the short sides of a 5" x 8" piece of corrugated cardboard. Mark 1 cm across the top and bottom of the cardboard. Cut slots in the cardboard at the marks for the loom. Use yarn to "warp" the loom, or string yarn from the top to the bottom and then from one slot to the next across the back of the loom and repeat until all slots are filled. The ends can be knotted to the yarn on the back to the adjacent yarn.


Use a length of yarn about 15 feet long to weave across the top of the loom. Each row is a series of over and under the warp yarn from one side to the other. The last warp thread is then the beginning of going back through the sequence. When the thread is finished under, the next row goes around the last yarn and then threaded over and under in the opposite sequence.


When the yarn runs out, push the woven yarn up and proceed with a new 15 foot piece of yarn. There is no need to tie the yarn, simply begin weaving. When the weaving is tight on the cardboard loom, it can be popped off. The completed weaving can be used as a mat, or a dowel stick can be worked into the loops at one end and a hanging yarn can be attached for hanging.

Scoring Rubric

Cover (5 points)


Written story/creativity (50 points)


Flag from country of origin (15 points) drawn/not printed from the internet


Map of country of origin (20 points) capital and home city marked, drawn/not printed from the internet


Neatness (10 points)

Links & Other Resources

Student Materials

Access to research materials (internet, encyclopedias, atlas, etc.)


Cardstock or construction paper for story cover


Writing paper