My Family

Different Kinds of Families




Culminating Activities



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The students will understand that there are many types of families.

The students will understand that families provide us with basic needs.

The students will understand that family structure, ideals, and traditions vary according to culture.

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What is a family? A family is the people who love and care for you. They don’t necessarily have to be the people you live with. There are many different types of families. The nuclear family consists of a mother, a father, and children. A family made up of stepparents and/or stepchildren is called a blended family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins make up an extended family. Sometimes some of these family members live together. The single-parent family includes one parent, either a mom or a dad, and the children. Other children live with their adoptive parents, rather than their birth parents. Every family is unique!

Our families help take care of us by providing us with some basic needs. These needs include physical things such as shelter, food, and clothing. Families also fulfill our emotional needs by giving us love, care, and security.

Families around the world have different ideals and traditions. Students may celebrate different holidays or the same holidays in different ways. These differences may come from their ethnic background, religious beliefs, or other personal reasons. It is important to make students aware of a variety of ways families celebrate in our world today. Make plans to research and teach about the different traditions that are specific to your students.

Every family is different. As you teach this unit, be aware of these differences and the emotional ties to the subject. Be considerate of your individual students and their unique situations.

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My Family


Materials: book- Family Tree by Pierre Coran, paper with tree on it, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, pencils

Time: 30-40 minutes

Discuss family relationships with the children and how they can be shown with a chart called a family tree. Read the book Family Tree and refer back often to the family tree in the book as you read the story. Allow the students to make family trees by drawing on their own or using the materials the teacher has provided. Allow them to use names of their own family or to just use terms such as mother, father, etc.



Materials: paper, pencils, crayons, camera

Time: 20 minutes

Children draw pictures of their families. Or, take an instant photo of each child and have him draw his family around it. Hang them up on a bulletin board.



Materials: paper, crayons, scissors, hanger, paper punch, string

Time: 30-45 minutes

Children draw pictures of each family member. Cut out each one. Paper punch a hole in the top of each picture. Tie a string to this hole and attach to hanger. Display mobiles around the room.



Materials: Paper, crayons

Time: 30 minutes

Discuss who makes up a family and different roles these members can have. Each child chooses one family member and draws a picture of them. Add words or sentences that describe that person and their role in the family. Share the drawings with the class.


Different Kinds of Families


Materials: World map, globe, pictures of families throughout the world

Time: 20 minutes

Show pictures of families throughout the world. Talk about what each family is doing. Ask students if their families do any of the same things. Use a globe or map to locate countries where these families live. Divide students into small groups and have them sort, then group their photos. (Ex: activity, place, family members shown.) Each group draws or writes how they sorted the photos. They might also want to write simple captions for each picture. Display photos on a "Family Groups Photo Wall."



Materials: paper, crayons, pencils

Time: 30 minutes

Children plan and make a chart showing ways families are similar and different. Each child folds a paper in half (hotdog style) to make to columns. In one column, children write ways that families are the same. In the other column, children illustrate ways families are different. (Ex: Write- Families live in homes. Draw- different types of homes people live in; Write- Families eat food. Draw- food eaten in different countries.)



Materials: Banner paper, markers

Time: 20 minutes

Ask children what families say to each other to show they care. Teach children ways to say "I love you" in different languages. Ex: Te Amo in Spanish, Je T’aime in French, Ninikupenda (nee-na-koo-pen-da) in Swahili. Locate these places on a map or globe. Have children make banners of these sayings.



Materials: speaker and any materials they may need for their lesson

Time: 20-30 minutes

Invite a local or school counselor to speak to the children about different kinds of families. Ask him or her to discuss the differences and similarities among traditional, nuclear families, single parent families, foster families, step families, etc. Ask them to stress that families come in many shapes and sizes. Encourage children to ask questions and participate in the discussion.



Materials: chart paper, photographs, marker

Time: 20 minutes

Share photographs of families which show diversity in size, race, and different roles. Ask children to describe the families. Write responses on a chart paper. (Ex: Some families are big. Some families are small. Families love. Families play.) Add and refer to this list throughout the unit.




Materials: Patterns of houses and construction paper for each child, magazines, scissors, crayons, and glue

Time: 30-40 minutes

Discuss with the children that we depend on our families to meet our needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Define needs as things we must have to be healthy and safe. Discuss some of the basic needs of families. Allow the children to make pop-up books of the needs their families provide them with. They can each use a pattern of a home (or make their own) and draw members of their family in the window for one side of the book. Then they can draw or cut out pictures of food, clothing, furniture, etc. and paste them as pop-outs on the bottom half of their book.



Materials: pictures of homes around the world, fiction and nonfiction books about shelters groups are researching, paper, pencils

Time: This activity would need to be done over several days-possibly a week (approx. 3-4 hours)

Discuss with the students the different kinds of homes families can live in. Talk about a few different kinds of homes within our culture such as apartments, mobile homes, cabins, etc. Then discuss with children how homes vary around the world depending on the culture and climate of where people live and the available natural resources. Show some pictures of different homes around the world. Come up with a list of different homes around the world with the class. Allow the children to divide into small groups of about four or five and research a particular home such as Arctic shelters, adobe homes, log cabins, etc. by looking at different books in the classroom and school library. Have the children present their research in the form of a story: what would it be like for a child their age to live in this particular shelter?



Materials: Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting, materials children donate

Time: 30 minutes for discussion and 1-2 hours or longer to go on field trip depending on how close the shelter is to the school

Read the book Fly Away Home to the children. This story is about a boy and his father who are homeless and live in an airport. Help the students understand how entire families can be without homes, but they are normal people too. Talk about ways we can help those who are homeless. Have the students bring in their own old clothes and old toys (or even some of their new ones) and then take a trip to a local homeless shelter if there is one available.



Materials: none

Time: 20 minutes

 Remind children that people everywhere have needs. Write the words Needs in a circle in the center of the board. Together, name the four basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, and love. Take one need at a time and have the class add related words to the web.




Materials: tape of song, words written on chart paper, pictures of first Thanksgiving

Time: 30 minutes

Talk to the children about the first Thanksgiving and show them some pictures of it. Also talk about how families today may or may not celebrate Thanksgiving and celebrate it in different ways. Introduce the song "Over the River and Through the Woods" to the children. Teach them the words to the song and sing it. Invite the children to share songs or customs their family does at Thanksgiving time (give them advance notice on this so they can talk to their parents about it) and list them on the board. Discuss how we all celebrate in many, different ways.



Materials: Pablo’s Tree, pencils, crayons, paper

Time: 30-40 minutes

Source: My World Hartcourt Brace & Company Teacher’s Edition Textbook Grade Level 1

Read Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora to the class. This book talks about a Mexican-American boy who looks forward to seeing the way his grandfather decorates the tree that was planted on the day he was adopted. Ask the students to share any birthday traditions they might celebrate in their families. (Let the children and parents know about this in advance so they will have time to think of these traditions.) Have each child draw or write about a birthday tradition they have. Then put them together in a class book.



Materials: pictures of families celebrating different holidays, speaker, different artifacts used in different family celebrations

Time: 30-40 minutes

Discuss with the children the different reasons families do (and do not) celebrate. Talk about some of the different celebrations different cultures have and why they celebrate them. Provide pictures for the children to see this. Invite students of a different culture or someone you know to do a small presentation on a holiday they celebrate such as Chinese New Year, Kwanza, Cinco de Mayo, etc. Help the students to recognize and accept the different ways families celebrate.



Materials: paper, crayons, pencils, objects from home

Time: 30 minutes

Have children write or draw about a favorite family tradition. Invite children to bring an object from home which represents a family tradition. Children can present the object and tell about their tradition.




Materials: Flower Garden by Eve Bunting, chart paper, marker

Time: 20-30 minutes

Source: My World Hartcourt Brace & Company Teacher’s Edition Textbook Grade Level 1

Read the story Flower Garden to the children. Discuss with the children how families love and care for one another. Also discuss how families change. Make a word web with the word "change." Add to it as you talk about changes in the book such as birthdays and how families and children grow and change such as new babies, moving, new jobs, divorce, death, marriages, etc.



Materials: flower seeds (marigold, chrysanthemum, etc.) soil, containers, such as those used for packing mushrooms, and water pitchers

Time: 20 minutes

Allow the children to make their own little flower gardens like the one in Flower Garden. Give each child a container to fill with soil and then help them put holes in the dirt and plant the seeds. Discuss with the students how they need to care for their garden. Discuss how taking care of a garden is like taking care of a family and helping it grow and change. Let children take the box garden home to surprise family members.



Materials: paper, pencils, "change" word web

Time: 20-30 minutes

Discuss with the children how every family changes. Bring out the word web they did earlier about changes within families. Ask them to think of a time of change within their own family. Ask them to record the event and their feelings by drawing or writing and then sharing it with their family.



Materials: grandparents, tables for items they may bring

Time: 30 minutes

Invite several grandparents into the classroom to talk about what they remember most when they were a parent with young children. Have them point out some of the changes they have seen over the years in families and the way children are cared for. Ask them to bring any items they have saved from their own childhood.



Materials: old pictures of families from books, photographs the teacher or children bring in, paper, pencils, crayons

Time: 30-40 minutes

Provide the children with pictures of families from long ago and allow the students to bring in old photos of grandparents and great-grandparents. Allow them to explore the pictures and think about comparing them to their own lives using the words then and now. Have the children create their own story or drawing about things families might have done together in the past. Emphasize that although families were different long ago, they still provided the basic needs for one another.


Culminating Activities


Materials: two sticks for each child (one about the length of a child’s body and the other the length of their outstretched arms), drawing paper, construction paper, magazines, scissors, glue, and other assorted materials (such as dyed macaroni, clays, empty milk cartons, beads)

Time: 60-70 minutes

Source: My World Hartcourt Brace & Company Teacher’s Edition Textbook Grade Level 1

The children will each make their own sticks that the early Americans used to make to tell about themselves and their families. The teacher will first explain how the early Americans used to use their sticks, then the students will make their own. They will cross the sticks and lash them together with yarn. Then they will draw pictures or make up objects that show something about themselves or their family, and then attach these to their sticks. The children share a part or a couple of parts of their stick with the class. Then the teacher helps the students draw conclusions about families.



Materials: magazines, construction paper, writing paper, scissors, glue, crayons or markers

Time: 60 minutes

Have the children work in small groups to make a "Good Times" book about families having fun together. Have them write or dictate a story about their family. They can use pictures from home of their families or out of magazines to illustrate the book. Have the children record their stories on a tape recorder. Display the books in the classroom library and invite the children to listen to the tapes as they follow along.



Materials: tables, whatever else the students need depending on the family tradition they are going to share

Time 60 minutes for actual day ( will take more time to plan in and out of class)

Have the children research their own family traditions. Suggest that they ask their parents and grandparents to describe holiday customs that have been passed down in their family for generations. They could be recipes, holiday decorations, storytelling, songs, dances, etc. Invite each child to bring something that represents its family to the "Family Traditions" day. They can set up their items around the room and family members and other members of the school can be invited to come and hear about the different family traditions of the children.



Materials: Unit portfolio, paper, crayons and markers, yarn or book stapler

Time: 45 minutes

Have the class recall activities they have completed about their families. Give children their portfolios of "family" work they have done throughtout the unit, and ask them to choose their favorite drawing or writing. This will be their first page in the "My Family" book. Have children select other pages to put in the book. Give each child a piece of paper for the final page in the book. Children can draw pictures and write about how they care for and love their families. When finished, have them make a cover for the book. Bind book together with staples, yarn, etc. Have children share their books with classmates and display them in the classroom before they are taken home to their families.



Materials: Vary according to what students plan to do, refreshments (vary according to students’ plans)

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Children invite family members to school and introduce them to their classmates. Make invitations and let children decorate and personalize them. With children, plan activities that will take place during the family members’ visit.

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Alexander, Bryan, An Eskimo Family. Lerner Publications, 1985.

Anholt, Catherine, Aren’t You Lucky. Bodley Hed. Ltd., 1990.

Buchanan, Ken, This House is Made of Mud. Northland Publishing, 1991.

 Bunci, Rebecca, Just Like A Baby. Little Brown & Co., 1999.

Carlstrom, Nancy White, Baby-O. Illustrated by Sucie Stevenson. Little Brown, 1992.

  • Three generations of a West Indian family gather together to take their goods to the local market. 
  • Carrick, Carol, Mothers Are Like That. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.

    Chicone, Stephen, A Tibetan Family. Lerner Publications, 1998.

    Coran, Pierre, Family Tree. Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1999.

  • This book talks about each person in a family tree and how they belong in the family and their relationship to one another. The book has a picture of the family tree to refer to when reading the story.
  • Cutler, Jane, Darcy and Gran Don’t Like Babies. Scholastic, Inc., 1993.

  • Darcy doesn’t like her new baby brother. Gran helps her decide that deep down she does like him and was a lot like him when she was a baby.
  • Dorros, Arthur, Abuela. Dutton Children’s Books, 1991.

  • A girl and her grandma take a "flying trip" over the city and talk about when grandma first came to the country. The story has many Spanish phrases in it.
  • Flournoy, Valerie, The Patchwork Quilt. Dial Books for Young Readers, 1985.

  • Tanya leans from her grandmother how to make a patchwork quilt. The family all helps and works together to make the quilt when grandma gets sick and can’t finish it.
  • Fryson, Nance Lui, A Family in China. Lerner Publications, 1985.

  • Describes the life of a twelve-year-old from China and the ways her life are different from when her mother was a child.
  • Gaylord, Laura, I Love My Mommy Because . . . Dutton Children’s Books, 1991.

  • There is the exact same book about dads, as well. It shows human and animal families and talks about the things moms and dads provide for their children.
  • Gray, Libba, My Mamma Had a Dancing Heart. Orchard Books, 1995.

  • A story about a girl and her mom who loves to dance. They dance and do all sorts of things together. Her mother inspires her to be a ballet dancer.
  • Greenberg, Keith Elliot, A Haitian Family. Lerner Publications, 1998.

    Joosee, Barbara, Mama, Do You Love Me? Chronicle Books, 1991.

  • A story about the Eskimo culture. A child learns that her mother will love her no matter what she does or who she is.
  • Joosee, Barbara, I Love You the Purplest. Scholastic, Inc., 1996.

  • Two boys always ask their mother the question "who do you love the most?" She always finds a way to show them both how special they are to her.
  • Levinson, Riki, I Go with My Family to Grandma’s. Illustrated by Diane Gode. Silver Burdett Ginn, 1996.

    Lomas Garza, Carmen, Family Pictures. Children’s Book Press, 1990.

  • The author describes her experiences growing up in a Hispanic community in Texas. Has bilingual text.
  • Malone, Michael, A Nicaraguan Family. Lerner Publications, 1998.

    Munsch, Robert, Love You Forever. Firefly Books Ltd., 1986.

  • This tells the story of a little boy and follows him from the time he was a new baby to an adult. The story shows how parents love their children through everything!
  • Murphy, Nora, A Hmong Family. Lerner Publications, 1997.

  • Describes the experience of a Hmong family who left Laos to come to America. Includes a Hmong folk tale.
  • Numeroff, Laura, What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best. Scholastic, Inc., 1998.

  • This book is two books in one and shows the mom and dad doing the exact same thing for their child in each book (nonsexist). It shows the things parents provide for their children.
  • Parish, Peggy, Amelia Bedelia’s Family Album. Illustrated by Lynn Sweat. Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

  • Amelia Bedelia shows Mr. and Mrs. Rogers her family album and describes what each of her relatives does.
  • Penn, Audrey, The Kissing Hand. Child and Family Press, 1993.

    Showers, Paul, Me and My Family Tree. Illustrated by Don Madden. T.Y Crowell, 1978.

  • Looks at a child’s family tree and talk about how and why we are all related. (Lessons on genetics and heredity.)
  • Simon, Norma, All Kinds of Families. Illustrated by Joe Lasker. A. Whitman, 1976.

    St. John, Jetty, A Family in Norway. Lerner Publications, 1988.

  • Describes the day-to-day life (home, school, work, etc.) of a ten-year-old girl named Andrea and her family in Oslo.
  • St. John, Jetty, A Family in Hungary. Lerner Publications, 1988.

  • Describes the day-to-day life (home, school, work, etc.) of two Hungarian sisters and their family living in Budapest.
  • Stone, Diane Stevenson, A Big Family Reunion with Sarah Lucy. Illustrated by Virginia Sargent. Randall Book. 1986.

  • Relatives gather for a family reunion. Sarah Lucy finds herself surrounded by a big family and belonging to all of them.
  • Tax, Meredith, Families. Illustrated by Marilyn Hafner. Little, Brown, 1981.

    Tigwell, Tony, A Family in India. Lerner Publications, 1985.

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    Anderson, William M. and Joy E. Lawrence, Integrating Music into the Elementary Classroom: 4th edition. Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1998.

    Boehm, Dr. Richard G., My World: Teacher and Student Editions. Harcourt Brace, 1997.

    Hoberman, Mary Ann, Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, and Brothers. Little, Brown, and Company Limited, 1991.

  • Collection of poems about all types of families and things they do together. Available at the YETC at Utah State University.
  • Jackson, Mike, Homes Around the World. Illustrated by Jenny Mumford. Steck-Vaughn, 1995.

    Jackson, Mike, Our Family Tree. Illustrated by Diana Bowles. Steck-Vaughn, 1995.

    Moore, Jo Ellen, Families Around the World. Illustrated by Jo Supancich. Evan-Moor Corp., 1991.

    Taylor, Sonya Abbye and Barbara C. Donahue, Homes and Families- Level A- Teacher and Student Editions. Steck-Vaughn, 1997.

    Famil State University.

    Grow and Change- Teacher’s Edition (Grade 1). Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

  • Activities and ideas for units on families; chapter on families in other cultures and countries. Available at the YETC at Utah State University.
  •  The Music Connection: Volume 1. Silver Burdett Ginn, 2000.

    Stories In Time- My World (Grade 1). Harcourt & Brace, 1997.

  • Includes resources for lessons, lesson ideas, videos, and cassettes. Available at the YETC at Utah State University.
  • http://familyeducation.com/k12/student





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