Lesson Plan

Neighborhood Treats

The lychee is a popular fruit from tropical and subtropical parts of Asia, but is now available in many parts of the world.

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Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
State Standards:
Standard 4: 1B, 1 C, lE
Standard 5: 1B
Thinking Skills:
Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations.

Essential Question

What apprehensions come from trying a new cultural dish in a foreign country?


Identify different foods immigrants have introduced to the United States.

Students will describe their thoughts and feelings of trying new food for the first time. 

Evaluate the significance that imported food has had on an immigrant community and culture.


For this activity, students will learn about the different foods that contribute to the immigrant tradition today. As immigrants tasted foods on Ellis Island for the first time, students will be given an opportunity to try new culinary tastes in the classroom. They will identify how different cultures impact our diets, and discuss how immigrants continue to influence and enhance our cultural palates.

Important note: Please check with students' parents for food allergies and dietary restrictions before starting this activity.


For this lesson, you will need:

  • A variety of foods that are traditional to immigrant communities. These can be found at local supermarkets or from street vendors in immigrant neighborhoods.  Ideas include: lychees, plantains, soft-shelled tacos, matzoth, gelato, and kielbasa.
  • Audio clip excerpt and accompanying transcript from the Ellis Island Oral History Collection entitled, "Kathleen Remembers Trying Pizza
  • Paper and Clipboards
  • Pencils or pens


Play several of the recordings found on the Ellis Island Oral Histories webpage. Students will participate in a share-out after the recordings have been played.

In this program, students will get the opportunity to try some foods that immigrants have brought to the United States and are still found in marketplaces today. Distribute paper.  Students will write their feelings describing how immigrants may have felt as they tried these new foods.

Distribute several food selections and have students taste the following:

Lychee (lee-chee) -(native to China)

Plantains (plan-tin) -(popular in the Caribbean and Central American country)

Soft-shell tacos (Mexico and other Central America)

Matzoth (mah-tsah) -(well-liked in many AshkenaziJewish communities)

Gelato (juh-lah-toh) -(traditions date to ancient Rome and Egypt)

Kielbasa (kil-bah-suh) -(a staple dish in many Eastern European countries)


Immigrant: Someone who moves from one country to another to live on a permanent basis.
Culture: The way of life for an entire group of people including: manners, clothing, language, religion, and food.

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Last updated: November 30, 2018