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The Melting Pot: A Mini Unit

The United States of America (as well as Canada since the 20th century)* is a melting pot of many different races, ethnicities, and cultures. This is a fun mini unit to explore the idea of a “melting pot” society.

*The United Kingdom and other industrialized countries have also experienced increased immigration since the 20th century.

1. Make a map, chart, or poster that shows the places of origin of the people in your neighborhood or community.

2. Take a survey of at least ten people you know in your apartment, house, block, neighborhood, school group, scout troop, etc. Find out how many were born outside your country, have (or had) parents or grandparents from another country, and/or speak more than one language. Keep track of the countries, languages, and racial groups represented in your survey.

3. Learn a little of a language that is new to you. Or, learn to say hello in at least five different languages other than your own.

4. By any means you know, except by speaking or writing, communicate at least three of the following to other people:
-- Will you go with me to the grocery store?
-- I want to find a job.
-- My puppy (or pet) has run away.
-- My grandparents are nice.
-- Where do you go to school?

5. Think up and communicate two more things you might want to say if you could not speak the language most people around you spoke or were not able to talk.

6. Make a display to represent some parts of your own cultural heritage. Your display might include objects, photographs, drawings, or handcrafts.

7. Share your own cultural heritage by demonstrating a handcraft or a dance, or by playing music for others.

8. Look for ways in which one or more cultural groups express themselves through art. Do at least one of the following activities:
-- Visit a local museum, art show, musical, or dance show.
-- Visit a local craftsman, artist, musician, dancer, writer, or actor. Talk to this artist about his/her work, interests, and successes.
-- Listen to a living artist, musician, writer, or actor on recordings or television. See how she/he expresses the feeling of his/her people.
-- Go to one or more stores and visit several departments, such as the art, record, book, furniture, china, and clothing departments. Note which items are representative of or come from various cultures in this country and countries around the world.

9. Design a colorful advertisement to invite visitors to a celebration or festivities of your own ethnic group.

10. Make a model or mural illustrating a holiday celebration you have see or would like to see.

11. With a small group, prepare a calendar for at least three months of the year, showing the ethnic events and festivities in your community.

12. Look through at least one publication, newspaper, magazine, pamphlet, or book put out by and/or for a specific ethnic, cultural, or language group.

13. Using a diary or small notebook, jot down some of your feelings about people whose cultural background is not the same as your own.

14. What do you think a melting pot society means? What might be some good things about such a society? What might be bad about it?

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