K, 1, 2

Throughout history America has been seen as a land of freedom and opportunity. This lesson will explore the history of why and how people came to America.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty to Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • use the vocabulary of Coming To America
  • interpret the meaning of America as many together as one
  • trace the movement of immigrants into America.
  • list the nationality of his/her ancestors.
  • The book Coming To America (see Bibliographical References)
  • Large pull-down map of the United States
  • Large pull-down map of the world
  • Smaller map of the world that can have pin holes put into it
  • Hot plate
  • Large pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • 13x9x2 inch pan
  • Spoon
  • Rice Krispies
  • Marshmallows
  • Margarine or butter
  • Spatula
  • Knife
  • Napkins
  • student copies of Handout: School/Home Connection Worksheet ( and in Spanish)
Home Connection 

The teacher will tell the class that they are to go home tonight and ask a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or any adult relative to help them fill out the School/Home Connection Worksheet (handout below). The students will be exploring their own ancestry to find out where their ancestors may have traveled from to get to America. The following day the students will report their findings back to the class. Note to the Teacher: You will need to have a world map ready for the next day. It will have to be one that you are willing to sacrifice to pin holes. Allow the students, with teacher’s guidance, to mark the map with push pins in the locations from which their ancestors came. Some students will require more than one push pin. The teacher should also use push pins to share his/her ancestry with the class. Allow time for everyone to look at the diversity, or lack of diversity, from where the class’ ancestors came. If there is not much diversity, discuss possible reasons why so many of one nationality settled in the same area. They may have missed their homeland. They may have wanted to maintain their culture. It may have made being in a foreign land easier when they were with people from the same area.


Maestro, Betsy. Coming To America. New York: Scholastic, 1996.
ISBN: 0-590-44151-5.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Using a map of the United States, tell the students that a long, long time ago no one, not even Native Americans, lived in America. Ask: How do you think the people got here? Write the students’ ideas on the board. Re-read the student-generated list to the class to recall all of the possible ways people could have come to America. Tell the class that we will be reading a book that answers the question: How did people come to America?

  2. Show the cover of Coming To America. Point to the picture of the Statue of Liberty. Ask: Does anybody know what this statue is called? (the Statue of Liberty) What does “liberty” mean? (freedom)

  3. Set the reading purpose by asking: Why do you think all of these people are so happy about seeing the Statue of Liberty? Let’s read the book to find out.

  4. Read Coming To America. While reading, pause for understanding of: immigrants - people who come to a new land to make their home - many cultures or ways of life from all of the different immigrants have blended together to make our country.

  5. Explain that America is made up of people from different countries and cultures who have come here and blended together as Americans. Together, with our different backgrounds and perspectives, we are strong together.

  6. Ask: How many of you have made Rice Krispie Treats before? What happens when you put the marshmallows and butter in the pan together and put them on the burner? Let’s find out! Make Rice Krispie Treats according to the following recipe. Allow children to help prepare the recipe as you see fit.

  7. Emphasize the different parts forming together as one idea when the marshmallows and butter have blended together. Show the students the new mixture. See if students can use the metaphor that the Rice Krispies are like the people and they get fused together. They take on a new shape and a new flavor. By themselves, the butter and marshmallows taste different. The butter-marshmallow mixture is like a community where all kinds of people come together.

  8. Rice Krispie Treats Recipe: ¼ cup butter, 10 oz. package mini marshmallows, 6 cups Rice Krispies. Melt butter in a large deep pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat, add Rice Krispies and stir until they are all well coated. Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into buttered 13x9x2 pan. Cut when cool. You will serve this at the end of the lesson.

  9. With the help of the class, reiterate the story using the World Map to show the movements of the immigrants. The following is the order in which they are told in the story:

    • Thousand and thousands of years ago the Native Americans’ ancestors came from Asia, across a land bridge into what is now Alaska. (Show the movement with your finger or a pointer.) What are ancestors? (An ancestor is a relative from long ago, like your Great, Great Grandma.) The ancestors of the Native Americans traveled all around and settled in both North and South America. (Point out both continents.)
    • Later people came from Europe to America. (Point to Europe and move your finger across the Atlantic Ocean to North America.)
    • Some people were brought here from Africa. (Show movement from Africa to North America across the Atlantic Ocean.)
    • Later more and more people came. They landed in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. (Point to each city.)
    • Later people moved west and settled. (Show movement across the United States from East to West.)
    • People started coming from China. (Point to China and trace the path they may have taken across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco.)
    • Ask: Why did all of these people come here? Remember the Statue of Liberty? They wanted freedom. Many of the immigrants couldn’t go to the church they wanted to. Their country said they all had to go to the same church. They wanted the freedom to be able to say what they wanted to say. Some of the immigrants came from countries where you could not talk against the government. You couldn’t have an opinion.
  10. Explain the homework in the handout below.

  11. Eat the Rice Krispie Treats.


Assessment will be based on teacher observation of student participation and completion of the School/Home Connection assignment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.5 Discuss the relationship between individual freedom and government power in a democracy.