The Statue of Liberty is the world’s most famous symbol of freedom. It was a symbol of hope to all people arriving in America and is a reminder of how this country became great—through the efforts and contributions of its immigrants.
This copper-skinned lady, Miss Liberty, Lady Liberty, “Liberty Enlightening the World,” is rich with symbolism. The various components of the statue have special meanings deliberately selected to express the full importance of her purpose. Those meanings, ideals, are as pertinent and significant today as they were in 1886 when first she lifted her “lamp beside the golden door.”
Liberty, her inception, design, construction, historical import, symbolism, emotional impact, relevance to the 1880’s, will be studied, thereby enabling young learners (grades 1-3) to comprehend the subject of immigration. What is immigration? Why has it been a significant factor in the history of America? Why, for many, does it still hold the dream and the promise?
Footsteps to Liberty: A Journal Journey
is an interdisciplinary unit composed of six components: Symbol of Liberty—Expression of Freedom; Steps to Liberty—History of Immigration; Process to Liberty—Procedures for Immigration; Steps to Assimilation—Relocation in a New Land; Recent Steps to Liberty—Experiences of Today’s Immigrants to America; and Promise of Liberty—Assurance and Attainment of the Promise Today. Procedures, steps, taken in the immigration process plus actual field trips, learning experiences involving pretend journeys to relocation—taking “footsteps” to liberty—will be employed.
Journal writing will be a major aspect of this unit. Observations will be recorded throughout the duration, documenting the experiences and discoveries, real and imaginary, of
Footsteps to Liberty: A Journal Journey
The title of this unit is lengthy. For the remainder of this paper it will be termed
The Talented and Gifted Early Identification Program (Grades K-3) in New Haven provides itinerant services on a weekly basis to identified first through third grade students. The K-3 Program has been designed as an enrichment curriculum incorporating age-appropriate hands-on activities, critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving opportunities, independent projects, and field trip experiences.
has been prepared for the students participating in this program.
The K-3 curriculum has been developed around three central themes: Early American Life; Native Americans; and Art and Science. Students entering the program in first grade remain in it for three years. The three themes are rotated during the three years to prevent repetition for students attending during first through third grades.
The central theme for the 1996-1897 school year will be Native Americans.
will combine the meaning of immigration, contemporary attitudes toward immigration and the experiences of recent immigrants with the Native American TAG curriculum. This unit will require eighteen sessions. As a teaching guide for the self-contained classroom it could be accomplished in four weeks. The TAG Program, conducted on a weekly basis, will require four months.
An integral component of
will be journal writing—the “Journal Journey.” Each student will receive an unlined blank book. Throughout the course of this unit they will make observations, take time to reflect upon their observations, repeat the observation process, reconsider their observations and reflections, and record their thoughts. Journal writing facilitates thinking. It is a process of examining what appears to be obvious, formulating theories, looking carefully again and reassessing assumptions. It is an occasion to test one’s experiences against those of others, to work one’s way through questions, employing critical thinking with genuine interest and determined intent.
Journal writing encourages the learner to put into written form items of interest, capturing the observation in language. The journal will be evidence that curriculum concepts have been understood and that independent thinking has occurred. Entries may include drawings stimulating visual thinking and perceptual processes and writings fostering verbal development. For characteristically nonverbal students drawing is essential to communication. The teacher may record thoughts dictated by the student.
Bridging activities will be provided in order to continue the thinking/learning process between weekly sessions, encourage a student-parent-family learning relationship and intensify interest. These activities are designed to be fulfilled at home with family involvement. Meeting once a week effectively limits how much can and what should be accomplished during class sessions. Bridging activities generally entail studies and projects that do not necessitate teacher assistance.
Activities planned are: sharing immigration experiences of family members; assisting in studying the Indian picture writing; playing “Life Stories,” a board game engaging family members in conversation, the sharing of life experiences, hopes and dreams; borrowing from a lending library developed by the TAG teacher (with books pertaining to the unit content, spanning the reading abilities of the students); and parents participating in field trips. The students will realize increased learning capabilities and a sense of achievement during this study if families nurture their children’s eagerness to learn.
Symbol of Liberty—Expression of Freedom is the introduction to
. Throughout this section the students will develop an understanding of the concept of liberty and the role it has played in the history of America. They will also gain an understanding of the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty.
First, students will be asked if they like to receive gifts. What was a favorite gift? Who usually gives gifts? Who usually gets gifts? Do they know that America was given a very special gift on its 100th birthday? Do they know America’s birthday? Do they know what the very special gift was? Would they like to see the gift? A model of the Statue of Liberty will be taken out of a gift-wrapped box and revealed to the students. Posters and books with images of the statue will be displayed and discussion will be initiated amongst group members. What is it? (Is there student recognition?) What is its purpose? (just a beautiful sculpture?) For what does it stand? (A beacon of freedom welcoming newcomers.)
The Story of the Statue of Liberty
by Betsy and Guilio Maestro will be read to the students and discussed. This book traces the statue’s creation from its inception to its unveiling and dedication ceremony. The Statue of Liberty, Lady Liberty, was a beautiful gift from France to America, but it involved tremendous cooperation on the part of both countries. It is, besides being a symbol of freedom, a wonderful testimony to the friendship and goodwill between the French and Americans and to the ideal of liberty shared by these two countries.
Students will observe-consider-observe again-record their impressions of the statue in their journals. The symbolic meanings of the components of the statue will be explained and added to the journals: the lighted torch for the beacon of light to welcome voyagers; the crown with seven spikes for Liberty ruling the seven continents and the seven seas; the broken chains at her feet for progress from bondage, tyranny and oppression; the tablet dated July 4, 1776 for the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and the style of her clothing, Ancient Greek for the birthplace of democracy. The students will not be expected to know the symbolism. It will be referred to occasionally. Eventually they will understand the meanings and be able to identify all components, with definitions.
Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” will be studied to enable the students to fully appreciate the message of Lady Liberty, the message that beckoned, lured, comforted all who heard her song. The poem will not be considered in its entirety. The closing stanza, the last five lines with which most people are familiar, will be photocopied, attached to the journals and discussed. Here, as with Liberty’s symbolism, exposure and the beginnings of a recognition are the desired results.
During the discussion period the students will be asked to explain the meaning of “huddled masses”; “yearning to breathe free”; “wretched refuse”; “tempest-tost”. What is “the golden door?” Together the students will rewrite the poem in their own words and retitle it. The new rendition will reflect their understanding of “The New Colossus”—an interpretation in their own terminology. Do they understand why this poem was placed inside the statue? After illustrating the poem in their journals, the children will share their versions of “the golden door.”
“Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of nations.” A “teeming nation of nations” states Walt Whitman describing America—the “melting pot.” America is a multi-colored tapestry. Ethnicity, culture, tradition are the threads. Those woven strands are the many immigrants who came, and continue to come, to make a new life for themselves and their families. Those woven strands are immigrants with dreams, spacious dreams, full of hope in the land of promise. This wondrous cloth woven from many wondrous multi-colored, multi-cultured, multi-ethnic threads is constantly undergoing transformation. This tapestry today is a continuum of unprecedented diversity.
Considered a land of opportunity, a “Garden of Eden” with “streets paved with gold,” immigrants arrive and find the real America to be freedom, adventure, livelihood, safety, peace . . . isolation, misery.
Steps to Freedom—History of Immigration provides historical background and an understanding of the reasons why people have immigrated to America. The words immigrant and immigration are introduced at this time. Big words for young learners, big issues for small children. (Previous to this point newcomers has been the identifying term.) In order to gain some insight into the students’ existing knowledge in this area they will be asked to explain what the word immigrant means. How would they define immigration? How does one immigrate? Why does one immigrate?
Coming to America: The Story of Immigration
by Betsy Maestro will be read to the students. This selection offers a brief overview of immigration, from the very first people to cross the Bering land bridge connecting Asia to the North American continent more than 12,000 years ago, up to the late twentieth century.
Coming to America
traces the fluctuating history of immigration. People came for many reasons: economic opportunities; physical survival; a determination to attain religious and political freedom; and for personal safety and prosperity.
An immigration timeline will be inserted into the journals. Developmentally a sense of historical perspective is normally not acquired until adolescence, therefore the timeline will be regarded as a reference tool and item of interest for those students who understand its function. For students having difficulty grasping the concept it will serve as a prelude to the utilization of chronological lists as part of the record keeping system and study of the past.
Discuss reasons for immigration. Why do people come to America? From where have immigrants come in the past? How do the students think it feels to immigrate? What problems might immigrants face? Have they always been welcomed in the United States? Are they welcome today?
An engraving in the narrative form from
entitled, “Viewing the Statue of Liberty,” will be observed and discussed. This genre piece will help the students connect visually and emotionally to the experience of the characters depicted, to interpret an everyday occurrence, momentous for the immigrant, and tell a story. Following the discussion period the students will write a story or poem in their journals.
Process to Liberty—Immigration Procedures involves preparation activities for the field trips. These excursions are real trips with an imaginary aspect—that of going back in time to when the land was inhabited only by Native Americans—combined with a make-believe immigration to a new land. By acting out this process the students will gain an understanding of some of the hardships endured, the difficulties encountered when one decides to immigrate.
Activities will be hands-on projects imitating the items needed to relocate to a new country. Each student will prepare a passport designed to fit the needs of this unit. Children will supply a photograph or be photographed, important data will be recorded on the passport and accomplishments, such as field trips, wigwam building, picture language communication, journal entries, and bridging activities will be documented in sections allocated for this purpose. In order to indicate completion of each responsibility rubber stamps or stickers pertain to this study will be utilized.
Suitcases will be made out of cigar boxes. Critical thinking will be employed as students select a specified, limited amount of items (three or four) that they determine are necessary for survival in the new land. These bare essentials may be drawn or found in magazines and cut out or they may be actual items if small enough to fit into the suitcase.
The journal entry will identify these items and explain the rational for their inclusion. Why were they chosen? How will they help in the new country? Also, the thoughts and feelings involved in immigrating will be recorded. Is it hard work? How does it feel? Exciting? Scary? Uncertain? What do they hope to find in the new land?
West Rock Ridge State Park in New Haven and Indian Rock Nature Preserve in Bristol will be the field trip sites in Steps to Assimilation—Relocation in the New Land. This will be a pretend relocation to an imaginary land occupied by people (Native Americans) whose culture and lifestyle differ greatly from the newcomers (student immigrants).
During the West Rock trip students will hike through the wooded area, taking note of natural environmental resources readily available. A water supply (streams, lakes), edible items (berries, sassafras, wildlife) and trees for dwellings will be sought. A suitable site on which to build a home and live will be selected. Once that is done the students will cut poles out of saplings (permission having been granted prior to the trip), dig holes in which to insert the poles and construct the domeshaped wigwam framework, reinforcing it with vines (or twine) from the surrounding area, tying the poles together wherever they cross over one another. Upon completion of the framework the ‘bark’ (decorated chipboard) will be tied to the horizontal cross pieces of the wigwam frame. The opening for the entrance must face the east—the direction of the sunrise—and have a smoke hole at the top with a ‘bark’ flap to open for ventilation and close during inclement weather.
The students will enter the wigwam, sit on the ground and listen to Native American folktales. This storytelling session provides further understanding of the culture of the inhabitants of the new land.
Journal entries will include trip impressions, critical thinking pertaining to the appropriateness of the items selected for inclusion in the suitcase. Should some of the items have been excluded? What should have been chosen instead?
Indian Rock will afford additional assimilation experiences. Here the ‘immigrants’ will meet ‘inhabitants’ dressed in traditional deerskin garments complete with animal headpieces and amulets. They will be escorted by Lone Wolf through a wooded area to his authentic wigwam. Once inside, seated on the ground before an open fire, they will be introduced to wooden utensils and tools essential to survival and will eat unfamiliar Native American food. Communication will intermittently occur through the use of Native American oral and sign language. Tales will be told of the first Americans’ life, a world of harmony with nature. At the time of departure from the wigwam the students will have marks applied to each cheek (from a smoking smudge pot) and smoke wafted on each individual to keep away evil spirits.
Journal reflections should entail trip impressions, reactions to strange foods, thoughts regarding the new language, and any discomforts or hardships encountered. Are there opportunities for a future in the new land? What customs would they like to adopt? What customs do not appeal to them?
Language acquisition is critical to functioning in a new country. The students will study Indian picture writing handbooks devised for this unit. They will practice communicating with one another and will incorporate picture writing into their journals. Entries should reveal some ability to understand and communicate in this new, foreign language.
Recent Steps to Liberty—Experiences of Today’s Immigrants to America will give the students the opportunity to interview newcomers dealing with the issues of today. Immigrants within each school will be selected for this phase. It is preferable that the interviewees be able to communicate with the interviewers to avoid the need for interpreters.
The students will prepare questions in advance. Some possibilities are: What was life like in the native country? With whom did you live? What kind of work did your family do? How did you get to the new country? With whom did you travel? How was the journey? What was the most difficult part of your trip? What is your life like in America? Who are your friends? What new customs were hard to get used to? Did any of the customs seem really strange? Do you especially like any of the new traditions? What do you miss about your native country? What do you dislike the most about America? What do you like the most about America? Do you have any disappointments? What did you bring with you that you cannot put into a suitcase? (traditions, memories)
These interviews will be tape recorded, allowing the students to fully participate in the conversations. Later, the recordings will be played and the students will discuss their discoveries. Journal entries will record information, responses and impressions from these inquiries.
concludes with Promise of Liberty—Assurance and Attainment of the Promise Today. “Rainbow’s End,” a painting by Wayne Skolnick, will be the visual focus for this section of the unit. This art piece depicts the Statue of Liberty in the foreground. She is erect, strong, imposing, determined. Cloudy skies and dark ominous waters forebode stormy, threatening times on the horizon, uncertain futures. Appearing through the clouds—a rainbow—the symbol of hope, promise of liberty.
Responses to the painting will be elicited from the students. The artist has placed particular images in his painting. They are things that we can readily recognize and describe. But what is the artist really trying to say? What is the true message of “Rainbow’s End?” The children will record their impressions in the journals. A creative writing assignment will include an original story or the composition of a poem.
Each student will receive a twenty-four by thirty-six inch poster of Wayne Skolnick’s “Rainbow’s End.”
The Statue of Liberty is the world’s most famous symbol of freedom. It is still a symbol of hope to all people arriving in America. What does Lady Liberty promise? What does Lady Liberty deliver? What about the dream? What about that promise?!
The culmination to
requires the students to review their experiences, observations, questions, discussions, impressions and conclusions acquired during this project. They will need to bring together the idealism studied, their trip reactions, the information gathered during the interviews with recent immigrants and then formulate their own conclusions. The final entry in the journal will be their answer to the question—What is at the rainbow’s end?
Day of spacious dreams:
I sailed to America,
overblown with hope.
The students will gain:
(figure available in print form)
-an understanding of the concept of liberty and the role it has played in the history of America.
-an understanding of the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty.
-an understanding of the reasons why people have immigrated to America.
-a general knowledge of the immigration timeline.
-an understanding of Native American culture.
-an understanding of some of the hardships endured, the difficulties encountered during the immigration process.
-gain an understanding of and form an opinion about the ‘promise’ of America.