Coming to America


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Students complete “The Actor’s Ritual” warm-up activities. Review “Tableau Basics” from a previously made chart. The class webs ideas about reasons people may have had for immigrating to the USA.

Use “visual discovery” to discuss the cover illustration of The Memory Coat. Ex: “What do you see?” “Who might these people be?” “What is happening?” “How are these people feeling?”

Lesson Process:

Step 1: Create tableaus. First, depict scenes from the story, and then the students may create additional scenes from their imagination using the ideas heard in the story. During each tableau scene, the characters are interviewed about who/what they are and how they are feeling.

Step 2: The “audience” evaluates the tableaus using the previously made checklist.

Step 3:  Students add their new ideas about immigration to the web. (These ideas may be used to create poetry and/or stories about coming to America.)

Time Required:
30-45 minutes

Materials List:

  • Picture books about immigration-some suggested titles are: When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest Journey to Ellis Island by Carol Bierman The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff
  • Living Pictures: A Theatrical Technique for Learning Across the Curriculum published by The Kennedy Center



Students and the teacher design a rubric to assess each tableau presentation for accuracy, use of text references, interview questions and depth of answers.

Students are then assessed using their self-created rubrics.