Friday, 15 September 2017

Ellis Island

The Matchbox Diary

Our class text is The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman.  It is a story that documents a young boy who journeys from Italy to America in the early 1900s.  Each matchbox tells the story of a significant event in his life and the memories that he has.

During our topic time, we have spent some lessons unpicking the events he experienced.  Ellis Island had recently opened during the time period of the story and we get a glimpse of how he felt as he approached America.  

Mrs Warland set up a replica of his entry into New York via Ellis Island and we paused regularly to consider how people would have felt. 

 Disembarking the boat on the gangplank was tricky for some of us and we could only imagine how much trickier it would be with suitcases.

At baggage search, many of us lost prohibited items or failed our initial assessment meaning we were sent to a separate area to await our fate.  

The medical tests were most frightening. Some of us became separated as we didn't walk well enough so may have been lame.  Others presented diseases such as Trachoma because our eyes looked red.  Those of us that failed our medical checks were sent to the examination room.  Some of us got deported.

It really opened our eyes to the perils that were faced.  Some people were split from their family and refused entry to America.  Many had travelled for days on crowded steamships hoping for a better life but were turned down after rigorous legal checks.

At the moment, we are beginning our own matchbox diaries and are looking forward to sharing them with you soon.