All Aboard the Orphan Trains
Can the orphan train movement help us understand the challenges of children today?


By
Phyllis Bartosiewicz


Table of Contents:
Overview
Project Activities
    • Activity 1
    • Activity 2
    • Activity 3
    • Activity 4
    • Activity 5
Resources
    • Online Books
    • Orphan Train Web Sites
    • YouTube Videos
    • Image Resources
    • Additional Resources
Topic:
Orphan trains
Themes:
children
homeless
orphan trains
orphans
Focus Content Area:
History/Social Science

Secondary Content Area:
Technology
Grade Level:
5
6
7
8


Overview:
Overview

It’s hard to describe what a traditional family looks like today. Many children find themselves in what used to be non-traditional family structures. Nearly every classroom includes children who have experienced step-parenting, adoption, or foster care. Children today must also deal with social issues like scarcity, sickness, or separation. This project allows students to examine the lives of children in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They will learn that children from this era experienced some of the same hardships they or their peers have experienced. By examining the conditions of the orphan train children and their adult lives, students will learn that change can often lead to closer relationships and difficult circumstances can build strength and determination in individuals.

 

Students will learn about the orphan train movement of the 19th and 20th centuries and create a multi-media project to communicate their learning.

Core Understandings

 

 

Learning Objectives


Project Activities:

Activity 1

Introduction:

Introduce students to the topic of orphan trains by showing them the video "The Orphan Train HD" by HistoryProject564. It is embedded at the bottom of this page and listed on the Resource page.

 

Process:
You may also wish to watch one or more of the Youtube videos, listed in the resources, depicting how children lived in the tenements of New York during the 19th century.


Discuss

After watching the video(s), have students (as a class) identify the different living situations of the children in the videos.

 

Create


Resources for this activity:

Word processor

Wordle

Tagxedo


Method of Checking for Understanding:



I.2. Comprehending the Past
All students will understand narratives about major eras of American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing the setting, and sequencing the events.
I.3. Analyzing and Interpreting the Past
All students will reconstruct the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and creating narratives from evidence.


Activity 2

Instructional Time: 30 minutes a day for 4 days


Read:
Read excerpts from Orphan Train Rider by Andrea Warren to introduce students to the story of Lee Nailling. Be sure to include in your reading how Lee became an orphan train rider, his experience on the orphan train, who his adoptive parents were, and what happened to Lee as an adult.


As you read the story of Lee Nailling:


Resources for this activity:

Method of Checking for Understanding:




I.2. Comprehending the Past
All students will understand narratives about major eras of American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing the setting, and sequencing the events.


Activity 3

Online Research


Instructional Time: 45 minutes a day for 2-3 days

Research:
Students will use a web site called Riding the Orphan Trains to explore information about the orphan trains and orphan train riders. The site includes the following activities which could be assigned to students:

  1. Video
  2. Link to list of online stories about many orphan train riders (teacher should determine how many stories students should read - you may want to assign specific stories to each student)
  3. Scavenger Hunt
  4. Online game based on the scavenger hunt
  5. Online book excerpts about the orphan trains
  6. Web site about a boy who rode the orphan trains to Michigan
  7. Extend learning by challenging students to discover what circumstances led to the start of the orphan trains

Give students their own copy of the graphic organizer created in class about Lee Nailling. As students read about their specific orphan train rider, have them create a graphic organizer recording information from the story about their rider. 

 

Alternate activity:

    1. For older students, assign each student an orphan train rider to research.
    2. Have students include general information about the orphan train movement in their research.
    3. Students should record their research using an online wiki.
    4. Students should create a citation for each web site they use in their research.
    5. Citations can be posted above the notes for each resource or students can create a seperate wiki page for their citations. 

Resources for this activity:



Method of Checking for Understanding:



I.2. Comprehending the Past
All students will understand narratives about major eras of American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing the setting, and sequencing the events.
I.3. Analyzing and Interpreting the Past
All students will reconstruct the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and creating narratives from evidence.
Strand V. Inquiry
V.2. Conducting Investigations
All students will conduct investigations by formulating a clear statement of a question, gathering and organizing information from a variety of sources, analyzing and interpreting information, formulating and testing hypotheses, reporting results both orally and in writing, and making use of appropriate technology.


Activity 4

Writing and Recording the Orphan Train Story

 

Instructional Time: 45 minutes a day for 3 days

Process

  1. Students will write a story about the orphan train rider assigned to them, using their research or the graphic organizer they created. 
    1. Assigning the story as homework will give you more time in class to edit the story or complete the other tasks for this activity.
  2. From their story, students use a template to begin creating a storyboard for their digital story.
  3. Have students record their stories using the Sound Recorder on their computer. Alternately, students could use the program Audacity to record their story.
    1. I strongly recommend that students record seperate audio for each frame of their story
    2. If they have to re-record a segment, it will be a lot less time consuming than re-recording the entire story.
    3. Also, when setting up the timeline in Movie Maker (or any video editing program), it will make it easy to determine the time needed for each frame.


Rsources:

 

Jakesonline storyboard - side

Jakesonline storyboard - top

 

Method of Checking for Understanding:



I.3. Analyzing and Interpreting the Past
All students will reconstruct the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and creating narratives from evidence.
I.4. Judging Decisions from the Past
All students will evaluate key decisions made at critical turning points in history by assessing their implications and long-term consequences.
Strand IV. Economic Perspective
IV.1. Individual and Household Choices
All students will describe and demonstrate how the economic forces of scarcity and choice affect the management of personal financial resources, shape consumer decisions regarding the purchase, use, and disposal of goods and services, and affect the economic well-being of individuals and society.


Activity 5

Gathering Images and Music for Your Digital Story

 

Instuctional time: 45-55 minutes for 1 day

 

Process:

 

Gathering images:

  1. Using the links from Resources, have students find images to use in their digital story and save them to their hard drive.
  2. They should have at least one image for each frame of their storyboard.
  3. For each image saved, students should create a citation.
  4. Image citations can be posted on their research wiki page, or citation page. They could also create a page just for image citations.
  5. Have students add images to their storyboard, if using a digital template.
  6. If students are not using a digital template for their storyboard, have students add a description of each image in the appropriate frame of their storyboard.

Finding Music

  1. Have students search for a music file using the links on the Resources page.
    1. They should have some idea of how long they need the audio file to be from the amount of time their story took to record.
  2. They should download the music to their hard drive.
  3. Be sure to have students create a citation for the music file they selected and post it on their research wiki.


Resources:

Online Books

Google Books:

We Rode the Orphan Trains
by Andrea Warren
Orphan Trains - The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed
by Stephen O’Connor
The Orphan Trains
by Alice K. Flanagan
The Ophan Trains - Placing Out in America
by Marilyn Irvin Holt
Orphan Train Rider - One Boy’s True Story
by Andrea Warren
Children of the Orphan Trains
by Holly Littlefield



Orphan Train Web Sites

National Orphan Train Complex

American Experience - The Orphan Trains

42Explore - The Orphan Trains

Orphan Trains to Kansas

He Rode the ’Orphan Train’ Across the Country

 




YouTube Videos

The Orphan Train HD

Lewis Hines Progressive Movement

Jacob Riis Story

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Tenement Living

Tenement Life 1860 - 1910




Image Resources

Image Resources:

 

The History Place - Child Labor in America

~Photographs of Lewis W. Hines

MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Lewis W. Hine Collection

~More photographs of Lewis Hine
~These photographs are high quality

Jacob A. Riis’s New York

~Photographs of Jacob A. Riis

Masters of Photography: Jacob Riis

~More photographs of Jacob Riis

 


MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Jacob Riis Collection

~More photographs of Jacob Riis
~These photographs are high quality




Additional Resources

Simple graphic organizer

Bubbl.us online graphic organizer
The Tenement Museum

Citation Maker - Recipes for Success

Audacity

Jakesonline storyboard - side

Jakesonline storyboard - top