Box #5: Family & Community

Teaching Unit: Migration




Varies, can be easily adjusted


Social studies, writing, drama

Related project themes

Migration and globalization


The students will use personal oral histories as a way to examine why people move. Comparisons will be made to Senegalese migration, forced or voluntary. The unit ends with a personal story telling presentation.

Materials Supplied

"Generations" worksheet, Goree Island book, Goree Island postcard, map of Africa , map of the world

Materials Needed

local maps, paper to create "my personal history" books, personal photographs, folktales (see bibliography on website, video recording equipment (if possible)

Step One

Migration of family. Share personal stories about moving (town, state, country, house to apartment, bedrooms, etc) either self or someone the student knows. Teacher shares photographs of own life and tells a brief story of moving/migration. As home assignment, ask students to get parental help in putting together the places the family has lived. Students should bring in list and photos, if possible.

Step Two

Share stories and photographs. Create "my personal history" books/workbooks. Have students make pages to fill in birth place and date. Leave spaces to draw pictures, room for families to write a memory, a place to paste a family tree. Let the students brainstorm the things they would want to include in such a book. Students should work on the book whenever possible, taking it home and letting the family contribute as well.

Step Three

Discuss the roots of where we came from, using primary sources. For example, local maps can be used to trace a family's moving pattern. This is where the oral history investigation begins. Discuss how African-Americans would have a more difficult time because once their ancestors were on a boat, their origins were erased.

Step Four

Teacher does an oral storytelling of one exciting experience in her/his life. Encourage the children to begin thinking about an event they might like to make into a story for storytelling. Let them do a rough draft or brainstorming list and a chart or tree of how all the people in the story are connected. (See unit on family for further instructions in creating trees.) Read a folktale from Africa or find a video if possible. Be sure to point out the reader's use of volume, pitch, pace, tone, etc.

Step Five

Discuss the history of a place. Use Goree Island as the example of how a place holds history. Read the book included in the artifact box about the events that took place on Goree Island . Also share the photographs in the collection of the interior of the slave houses. Discuss how this is one way that people were forced to move to another location. Their personal histories were wiped clear. Then work on writing a story about a place in the school either individually, in small groups, or a class story.

Step Six

Storytell an African-American folktale (compare with an African folktale, if possible). Point out characteristics of a good storyteller. Ask students to choose and write about an event that is happening currently in their lives. Encourage them to begin thinking about which story they want to present orally.

Step Seven

Each student chooses their performance story and practice, practice. Discuss strategies for memorization of a story and tips on using body language.

Step Eight

Model good storytelling with another folktale. Try to pick one about one looking at one's past or a por quoi tale to show evolution and growth and how the children have become storytellers.

Step Nine

Tell stories!! Try to videotape and invite parents.

This unit was created and written by Stephanie Higdon. She can be contacted for questions or comments at