Planning a Spur of the Moment Online Field Trip is hosting a virtual fieldtrip of Ellis Island this Thursday, March 29, at 1pm eastern time and it looks really, really interesting.

I know, I can just hear you saying,
• “But that’s not in my weekly lesson plan. We couldn’t possibly fit this in.” My answer is that you do need to have a system or schedule in place, but it shouldn’t be so rigid that when something cool comes along that would enhance your children’s homeschooling experience, you can’t fit it into your plan. That kind of defeats the freedom of homeschooling, doesn’t it?

• “My children don’t know anything about Ellis Island so doing this virtual fieldtrip would be totally meaningless to them.” This is when you give yourself permission to do a “quick research” topic study.

How to Quickly Research a Topic

I did a quick google search of Ellis Island this morning, and here are a few of the resources I found.

Put your mouse on the Ellis Island tab on the top of the page to see the drop down menu of topics to peruse.

Click on The Statue of Liberty Torch Cam for several web views of the Statue of Liberty
Wikipedia is a great research tool for finding out basic information. In this article about Ellis Island, you can learn about the geography, medical inspections, state sovereignty disputes, the arts and references to related articles.

National Park Service
For Teachers
Lesson Plans and Teacher’s Guides
The National Park Service website has a page of helpful teaching aids on Ellis Island. has a good overview of Ellis Island plus a great series of short video clips about Ellis Island and some related articles to read.

There are many more websites available on this topic. These are just a few I discovered. You can make this mini unit study as casual or as in-depth as you want. But remember, our goal is to help our kids develop a “love of learning.” It is not our job to teach them everything they will ever need to know about Ellis Island. Our job is to teach them how to learn.

What’s the benefit of doing this:
• You will show your children that you love to learn too.
• Your children will be introduced to some cool basic online research and
study skills.
• You will be studying and learning together.

* Just a reminder to be flexible. Don’t worry if you happen to have trouble connecting to the webcast. They always offer a replay that you can watch a little later once they get it posted.

Now go to the website and register for the Ellis Island Live Webcast. It only lasts 35 minutes. Then, go to the above links so you AND your children and read through and discuss the topic of Ellis Island and immigration, and how it affected the building of America. Then attend the Live Ellis Island Webcast. What a great mini unit study!

If you find some other great links about Ellis Island that would be great for this unit study, please post them here or go to Facebook and join me there.