Field Trip Program

Introductory School Programs

Students in blue shirts about to visit Ellis Island as part of a class trip

Students happy to be on a field trip to Liberty and Ellis Islands.

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Update: While Ellis Island reopened on October 28, 2013, due to extensive damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy, our traditional onsite programs, including those described below, cannot be offered at this time and will not be offered during the current semester (Spring 2014). However, we are pleased to be introducing new self-guided activities for school group field trips! See "Be an Inspector!" (Grades 2-5), "Dear Editor" (Grades 6-8), and "Politics!" (Grades 9-12) listings on the Field Trips page. 

All education programs require a reservation, which is made when you buy the boat tickets for your field trip through Statue Cruises.  Education programs are offered Monday through Friday during the school year (typically September-December and February-June). Each program has its own requirements regarding age/grade limits and pre-visit activities. Please read the descriptions below for more information.

Island of Hope, Island of Tears Documentary Film

Students of all ages can watch "Island of Hope, Island of Tears." This award-winning documentary film reveals why and how millions of immigrants journeyed across the world to Ellis Island, hoping for a better life for themselves and their descendents. This program includes a 15-minute ranger talk followed by the 30-minute documentary. 

This program is:
  • 45 minutes long
  • Limited to 140 people (127 students max along with their 13 adult chaperones) 
  • Suitable for students in any grade 
  • Offered Monday-Friday during the school year (September-June)
  • Free (paid for by your tax dollars)
  • Available with a reservation only

While this program does not have a formal Teacher's Guide, the following questions can help students begin to think about immigration a century ago. Please note that the theater is completely dark when the film is playing; we do not recommend that students be expected to physically answer questions on a worksheet during the film.

  • What conditions would make you want to leave your home forever?
  • If you had to carry everything you were bringing along, what would you pack?
  • What kinds of tests would you have to pass to be able to enter the United States as an immigrant?
  • If you didn't speak English, how would you get to your final destination?
  • Where would you go in the United States? Why?
  • What would you do for work in the United States? Why?

Even if you are unable to make a reservation for this program, you can access this film online at to prepare for the visit and can even have your students watch this film in preparation for the field trip.

If this program sounds right for your class, request the program when you buy your ferry tickets!

Ellis Island 101

Students in large groups learn about Ellis Island as an immigration station a hundred years ago and as a museum today in this 40-minute program. More than 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island a century ago. Students will learn more about what those immigrants experienced here and will also be introduced to Ellis Island as an Immigration Museum with three floors of exhibits. Museum "must see" highlights and recommendations will help students successfully explore the museum with their chaperones. The park ranger will conclude the program with a short question and answer session.

This program is:
  • 40 minutes long
  • Limited to 140 people (127 students max along with their 13 adult chaperones)
  • Suitable for students in any grade
  • Offered Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year (September-June)
  • Free (paid for by your tax dollars)
  • Available with a reservation only

Note that this program has limited offerings and is intended for groups of students numbering between 48 and 127 along with at least one (1) chaperone per every ten students as the maximum capacity for the program is 140 people. 

If this program sounds right for your class, request the program when you buy your ferry tickets!


Education Department


History, Immigration, Social Studies
Field Trip Program