Social Studies Unit


Unit Essential Question: “How has immigration changed the United States?”

Grade Level: 4/5                                                                    Subject: Social Studies

Time Needed: 40-50 minutes                                                 Topic:  Immigration

Lesson Essential Question: “What contributions have immigrants made to the U.S.?”

NCSS Standards:

·         Culture

·         Individuals, Groups, and Institutions


MMSD Standards:

·         Give examples of valuable contributions to the United States made by many cultural, ethnic, and racial groups.


UW Teaching Standards:

·         Standard 1: Incorporates Understanding of Human Learning and Development

·         Standard 6: Connects School and Community

·         Standard 10: Employs Varied Instructional Strategies

·         Standard 11: Uses Technologies

·         Standard 14: Relates Well With Students, Families, and Communities


Materials Needed:

·         My Name is Celia/Me Llamo Celia by Monica Brown

·         Computer for salsa music and PowerPoint

·         Index cards for exit slips

·         Chart paper and marker



·         Students will learn about the life of Celia Cruz and her influence in bringing salsa to the United States.

·         Students will learn to dance a basic salsa step.

·         Students will be able to identify several specific influences of immigration in their own community (ex. businesses, places of worship, holidays celebrated, languages spoken, etc.)

Lesson Context:

Students have been exploring immigration; they have found out where their own ancestors are from, why people choose to come to a new country, and where people arrive when they come to America.  In this lesson, students will learn about some of the traditions and talents that immigrants bring with them when they come to a new country, and how these can become rooted in the new country’s culture.


Lesson Opening:

Today, we’re going to continue discussing immigration, but in a bit of a different context than we’ve done before.  Today, we are going to answer the question, “What contributions have immigrants made to the United States?”   What does ‘contributions’ mean?  To go to recess, you are going to write down five contributions that immigrants have made in America.  (Have question written on board.)  Now, please come to the rug and find a place that you will be able to see when I read this book.  Remember to sit next to someone that will be able to let you listen to the story.


·         Ask students if they’ve ever heard of Celia Cruz.  If they have, ask what they know about her.

·         Read My Name is Celia/Me Llamo Celia with the class, stopping to ask questions at predetermined places.

·         At the end of the book, ask students what they learned about Celia Cruz.

·         “And like we discussed, Celia Cruz is famous for bringing salsa to the U.S.  Today, we’re going to do a little bit of salsa ourselves.  Has anyone done this dance before, or seen it done?  What words would you use to describe it?”

·         Have students stand up and circle around the rug.  Remind the students to leave enough space for themselves to move.  I will teach students the basic 8 count salsa step, breaking it down for the students and then building on as they are comfortable.  When they are ready, we will add in music.  They will be dancing to La Vida Es Un Carnival, by Celia Cruz.  If there is time, we might dance to another song.

·         After this activity, we will debrief:  Who brought salsa to the U.S.?  Was this fun?  Do you think that people who are not Cuban or Hispanic enjoy doing salsa? 

o   Write exit slip example on board: “Celia Cruz, who was Cuban, introduced the salsa dance to the United States.”  Tell students to be as specific as possible on their exit slips.

·         Now, you may go back to your seats.  We are going to be discussing where you see the influence of immigrants in your own community.  We already discussed salsa – a dance that many people do and enjoy, even if they do not a Hispanic background.  What are some other things you notice about your community that happen because of immigrants? (PowerPoint as a discussion centerpiece)

o   If students are at a loss, remind them of culture night – what talents were represented?

o   Languages? 

o   Businesses?  (What businesses are helped by people who are immigrants, what businesses cater to immigrants, what businesses are started by immigrants) – may want to use Google Earth to take a virtual trip around community and point these out, if possible

o   Places of worship and holidays celebrated

o   Food and music

o   Civil Rights

o   Think about inventions – American inventors with an immigrant heritage

§  African American inventors: cell phone, ironing board, air conditioner, peanut butter

§  Asian American inventors: barbeque, fireworks, gunpowder, vaccinations, ketchup

§  Hispanic American inventors: yo-yo, synthesis of RNA, astronauts

Lesson Closure:

We’ve had a really rich discussion today about the talents and traditions immigrants bring with them when they come to America.  Your exit slip, to be given to me before you go out for recess, is to write down five contributions that immigrants make to American society.  They can be contributions we’ve talked about, or, if you know of others, you may definitely write those down as well.


·         Student participation in discussion and salsa dancing

·         Exit slip

Special Considerations:

·         Students who are uncomfortable dancing salsa can clap the beat along with the music – it will definitely help those who are dancing!  I might also have them count the beats out loud for a time.

·         If students are unable to listen while learning the dance, I will immediately have them go back to their seats and we will proceed to the discussion.

·         If students are having trouble keeping focused during the discussion, I will have them write down their ideas, instead of simply sharing them out loud.