Lesson Plan

Push and Pull Factors I

Worksheet about push and pull factors using a t-chart.
Explore various push and pull factors that impacted immigrants a century ago and today.
NPS Photo


In the mid-to-late 1800s, large number of immigrants crossed the Atlantic Ocean to begin new lives in the United States. This activity explores the reasons why immigrants elected to leave their native countries, and examines how these factors are similar or different in immigration today.


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify reasons why immigrants in the early 20th century and today left their countries and came to the U.S.
  • Compare and contrast immigration issues throughout history.
  • Think about their own potential immigration and the reasons behind that decision.
  • Answer and discuss questions about immigration in terms of their own community.
  • Explain immigration in terms of push and pull factors.
  • Relate immigration patterns to economic, political, social, and environmental factors.
  • Research an individual who has migrated to their community and write a report about the person's background and motivation for moving into the community.


  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Push and Pull Worksheets (pages 3, 4, and 5 of the downloadable PDF)


How are the reasons people left their country to emigrate to the U.S. during the 19th century different from today?

Motivation: (10 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever lived somewhere else. Then ask if they remember moving, and if so, how they felt during and after their move to a new home (excited, sad, afraid, happy, bored). Have students share the reason (if they know, or want to share) why their family moved to their current home and how they felt about moving.

Poll students and record the results. How many have lived in more than one place? How many have lived in a different city? State? Country? What were some of the reasons? How did students feel about moving to a new home?

Then ask students to think about a place they might like to move to when they are older. Have students brainstorm a list of reasons why they think they would like to move there. Then discuss why they chose that location. What would be the downside of moving?

Create a T-chart on the board and have them record the pros and cons of moving to a new home.

Mini-lesson: (5 minutes)

For immigrants some factors pushed them from their country while other factors pulled them toward America. Often, when discussing immigration, you will find there are many reasons for immigration to happen. There are always "Push" factors that encourage and motivate people to leave the place they live, where their family may have lived for centuries. Also there are "Pull" factors that draw people to leave everything they have ever known in search of something better. That was certainly the case with the immigration of people from Germany & Ireland in the mid-1800s. These reasons are not much different today in terms of why immigrants come to the U.S.

Task: (25 minutes)

Using pages 3, 4, and 5 from this lesson plan's downloadable PDF:

Students will read about the causes of immigration during the mid-1800s (see page 3 "Past") and compare it to immigration stories today (page 4 "Present"). They will work with a partner and identify the similarities and differences and explain reasons to support their answers. Then students will identify Push & Pull factors of immigration by creating a T-chart (page 5 "Past and Present") and filling it out accordingly. Teacher will have students write their answers on the board.

Brief Review/Wrap-Up: (5 minutes)

Optional Homework: Questions from the bottom of "Push & Pull Factors of Immigration: Past" reading (page 3)


Push Factors
Pull Factors
Economic Factors
Political Factors
Social Factors
Environmental Factors