A mini-unit for teaching students more about family.


Opening the Doors to Social Studies with Children's Literature
By: Cheryse Hooste

Lesson Plans for All Kinds of Families

  1. Different Types of Families
  2. Family History
  3. Family Tree
  4. Traditions
    Appendix A
    Appendix B


1. Book Title: All Kinds of Families

2. Author: Norma Simon

3. Publisher and Date: Albert Whitman and Company, 1975

4. Curriculum Developer: Cheryse Hooste

5. Summary: This is a great book that talks about and has pictures of what a family is, different kinds of families around the world, families without a dad or a mom, traditional families, families of people who may not be biologically related, but who live with you, feelings families that many families have, old, young or extended families. It includes the many different family types that your own students may have.

6. Social Studies Relevance: With this book, children may become more aware of the differences in families, traditions, cultures, changes and similarities. They will know what a family is, and learn more about their own heritage.

7. Grade Level Focus: First grade

8. Relationship to Social Studies State Core:

* 6010-0203 Compare similarities and differences among families, school and neighborhoods.
6010-0201 Identify how individuals learn from the family, school, and neighborhood.
* 6010-0202 Show ways in which family provides the basic needs of love, food, shelter, clothing, companionship, and protection to their members.
* 6010-0204 Show that every individual has dignity and worth and is unique.
* 6010-0105 Describe possible solutions to problems in the family, school, or neighborhood.

Lesson Plans

Title of Lesson: Different Types of Families

Subject Area: Family

Grade Level: First Grade


  1. Given a discussion on differences in families, students will illustrate a picture of their family.
  2. Given a discussion on the importance of families to each of us, students will be able to identify one reason why their family is important to them.
  3. Given the story All Kinds of Families, students will be able to identify that their family is different from other families.


*Family pictures (optional for extension) Refer to Appendix B
*Pencils, crayons, markers
*All Kinds of Families
*String or yarn
*Tape or stapler


1. Read All Kinds of Families.

2. Discuss different types of families that were in the book, or that the students bring up. Explain to students that all families are different.

3. Family List. Explain to students that there are many different kinds of families. Have them brainstorm all of the different types of families that they can think of. If they are stumped, offer them some ideas. For example, small families, grandparents, adopted children, foster care families, older aged families, step-mother/father or brothers and sisters, only child, lots of children, etc. Beginning with their brainstorming ideas, create a list about anything your students know about families. This may include history, traditions, family members, and feelings.

4. Guided Discussion. Explain to students that everybody's family is different. No two families are exactly alike. Give an example. (i.e., If your were to look at my family picture. It is not like John's family. I have six sisters and four brothers. Also, my family looks different than any of yours.) Have students think about something that makes their family different from anyone else's. Ask for volunteers, or choose students randomly to share something about their family. Also discuss the importance of families. Why are families so important? Are they there to support each other? Give examples. (i.e., My family is important to me because they are always willing to help me. If I need help moving, they will come and help me move. Also, they are important to me because if I am sad, they try to make me happy.) Have students think about why their families are important to them. Ask for volunteers or choose students randomly to share why their family is important.

5. Give each student a piece of paper. Have them draw a picture of their family. In this picture they need to illustrate something about their family that is important to them. Something that might be important to them is the love they get from their family. To illustrate this they might draw a heart. Maybe their family plays a lot of games, so drawing a game would illustrate something about their family that is important to them.

6. Family Web. Using the students pictures, create a web on the wall or bulletin board. In the center, have a circle that says "Families are Different". Then use string or yarn to connect their pictures to the center circle.

Examine students pictures to see if they have drawn their family. Assess comments made during discussion to make sure students can identify one reason why their family is different and important to them.

Picture Board. Create a bulletin board for students to bring pictures of their family and pin them up. They can share their family pictures with other students. Students can also compare different pictures to notice the differences between the student's families. A newsletter will need to be sent home to students parents asking them to send a couple pictures of the family with their child.


Title of Lesson: Family History

Subject Area: Family

Grade Level: First Grade


Given a discussion and guest speakers on family history students will show that they understand family history by writing or illustrating something that they have contributed to their family history and putting it into a classroom book.


*Pencils, crayons
*Guest speaker


1. Anticipatory Set. To get the students excited and ready for the lesson, tell the students a story about your family. This is part of your family history. It could be a story that has happened with great-grandparents, parents, or yourself. Let them know that this is a true story.

2. Introduce vocabulary that you will be using that they may not know. Words like ancestors and siblings.

3. Instructional Input. Explain to students what family history is. Discuss that it includes things that have happened hundreds of years ago, and also things that may have happened last week. Family history is something that is in each student's history. Ask students questions about their own family history. Ask for some stories.

4. Using the information from the discussion, have students prepare one question to ask the guest speaker. Students could ask the guest where their family came from, how many ancestors names they know, what is something that they have done that will always be remembered in their family history, how old they are, and so on. Review students questions before the guest speaker arrives.

5. Guest speaker. Invite a family member of a student (grandparent or parent who would be a good story teller) and have them come and speak a little (10 or 15 minutes) about their family history. Stories would be very appropriate for this occasion. Students may ask the questions that they have prepared earlier. Previous to this lesson, students may write the letter inviting the guest to come.

6. Writing. After discussing family history and having the guest speaker, have students write something that they have done in their family which is now considered family history. Compile all of the students histories and make a class book titled, Our History.

Examine students writings or illustrations on their own family history to identify whether or not they understand what family history is.


Title of Lesson: Family Tree

Subject Area: Family

Grade Level: First Grade


Given the story All Kinds of Families, and a discussion on ancestors, students will be able to create a family tree going back at least three generations.


*Pencils, crayons or markers
*Family tree worksheet
*List of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents names (have your students get this information from home prior to this activity)
Refer to Appendix B
*All Kinds of Families


1. Review lesson on family history. Briefly discuss the main ideas so that students will tie it in with the family tree activity for this lesson.

2. Explain to students that today that they are going to develop a family tree with the family names that they have collected. Share with them that the story they are going to hear today discusses families, what makes a family, and what a family is like. Ask them to try and recall the things that the story All Kinds of Families talks about.

3. Guided Discussion. After discussing the story, remind your students that many families are different than others. Ask them some questions in review. Some of the questions you might ask are... What kinds of families were there? Were they all the same? Who made up these different families? Did they have grandparents, parents, cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles? What makes a family? Do all families have to be biologically related? Do all families keep in close touch with each other? Many students may have a family that isn't traditional. They may include step-mothers and fathers, half brothers and sisters, they may be adopted. Explain that this diversity is great, and that none of them should worry about not being able to do a family tree. They will still be able to do it.

5. Discuss family history and family generations. Explain that parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are ancestors for your students, and that each one is a different generation. They are the youngest generation of their family and will some day be the ancestors for someone else.

6. Model on the chalkboard or large piece of paper what a family tree is. Use your own family as an example. Begin with you and move to your parents, then grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. Also, model an imaginary family that has a step-parent, brother/sister, foster care, or an adopted child. Show a few different ways they can do it. They may use their biological family if they know their names, or just use their family that they are living with now. Help your students who are doing their family tree with a non-traditional family. If they would like, they may do more than one family tree so that they can include everyone. Be sensitive to their needs.

7. Check for understanding from your students by asking them verbally if they understand what the family tree is and how to do it themselves. If they don't understand, do more examples and let them choose what they need to do with you guiding them carefully.

8. Each student will then use the family tree worksheet and their names to create their own family tree. They need to go back at least three generations. See Appendix A for worksheet.


Observation of student family trees going back three generations will identify their understanding of the family tree by what they have created.


Title of Lesson: Traditions

Subject Area: Family

Grade Level: First Grade


Given a discussion on traditions, students will understand traditions, and come up with and implement a classroom tradition.


*Poster, crayons, markers


1. Anticipatory Set. To get your students ready, come in with something that is a part of your family tradition. For example, a family tradition of mine is for birthdays, we always get malt balls and a bag of balloons. Bring it in and tell your class that this is just one tradition that your family has.

2. Concept Development. Explain to students what traditions are. Traditions are important in many families. Traditions can continue for many generations. Give examples. (i.e., For every birthday in my family, we always received malt balls and balloons. On Christmas Eve, we always got together in the living room and took turns telling everyone what we were thankful for while drinking hot chocolate. My great-grandparents started a tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve. We still do that now.) Have students think of traditions in their own families. Ask for volunteers, or choose students randomly to share their traditions. If they cannot think of any traditions that their family has, have the student think of a tradition that they would like to have or start in their family.

3. After discussing what traditions are, both the students and you will brainstorm together some traditions that may be implemented right in class for the remainder of the school year, and possibly years to follow. You may want only one tradition, or you may want several, but have your students choose the ones that they would like the best.

4. Create a poster that states the tradition your class chose. Students will need to implement this tradition(s) that they have chosen into the classroom.

Observation of students contribution and starting a tradition in the classroom will identify that students understand traditions.



My Family Tree


Appendix B


Dear Parents,

We are beginning a small unit on families and family history. It is going to be very exciting and fun. Your child will be learning more about his/her own family history. We will be focusing on the immediate family, family trees, family names, and traditions. We will be discussing traditional and non-traditional families. Families that include step-parents, brothers, sisters, adoption and foster care. There are a few things each child will need to bring from home so that they can focus on their own family. I would greatly appreciate your support in helping with these items. Each child needs to bring...

1. Family names of student, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
*If your child has more than one set of parents, you may want to send names for both sets of parents and grandparents.

2. Pictures of your family

I would also like to invite you to come in at any time to see what your child is working on, or to help out with any of our activities. Please call if you have any questions or would like to help out. Thank you so much for all of your support!






P.S. Please send them by