Recently while helping one of my kids with a history project, I came across "Projects About Nineteenth Century European Immigrants," from the Hands-on History series in the library. This slim volume (only 46 pages) begins with a short history about immigrants and then launches into various projects to help you get a sense of the immigrant's life. While recommended for children ages 8 and up I would recommend this book for ages 6 to 10, though you could add to the information provided and make it more applicable to older children.
Projects are categorized according to waves of immigration, the Early Immigrants (1800-1860), Second Wave (1861-1890) and the Third Wave (1891-1899). Projects include immigrants from the Scotch-Irish (sic), Germans, Irish, Swedish, Russian, British, and Italian immigrants.
Projects vary and encompass cooking, sewing and crafts. For those who want a taste of their ancestor's lives there is a recipe for Irish Potato Soup and German Apfel Torte (Apple Pie). Lessons about how life was different in the 19th and even 20th century might be of interest to children reading this book. In one instance a project for making fake flowers may help add to a discussion on child labor in the United States. The directions for making Italian fake flowers includes a photograph of an Italian family making flowers in their tenement apartment. Families in tenement apartments making flowers used every member of the family so that they could earn the money they needed. Even young children were busily engaged in these work projects.
The book concludes with a glossary and a short bibliography to help kids find books and websites to further their knowledge about immigrants.
Looking to interest your children or grandchildren in genealogy? Tell them the story of an ancestor and then use one of these projects to help what you have talked about come to life. You can then supplement this activity with photos and websites to help the younger generation truly understand what life in a different time was like.
Other books in this series by Marian Broida include Projects about . . . American Indians of the Southwest; Nineteenth Century Chinese Immigrants; the Plains Indians; Plantation Life; Westward Expansion; Colonial Life; the American Revolution, and Ancient Greece; the Woodland Indians; and the Spanish West.
Projects about Nineteenth-Century European Immigrants, by Marian Broida. Benchmark Books. New York, 2005.