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Family Unit

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Are you looking for some fresh ideas for your family unit? This collection of family ideas should get you started.

family quilt
Posted by: teach4fun

I do a family quilt. I send home a 12 by 12 piece of tag board with instructions for the family to make it in to a square which will be part of a larger quilt to show we are all part of a bigger family. They are to put whatever they want to represent thier family just now alter the size or shape of the square. They can use photos, drawings, fabric, paint, words anything they as a family agree upon. It is amazing to see how it looks after it is all put together. I bought cheap ribbon at Michaels on sale and after hanging the squares I tack the ribbon along the edges and it looks just like a quilt. I love it and it is now a fixture of the hallway for each fall. :) I hope this helps.

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Family Weekend Journals
Posted by: CindyLynn

I began using Family Weekend Journals last year. At the beginning of the year I put together folders for each child using copies of a template I created in Microsoft Word. Here's the process I follow each Friday:
1. The class brainstorms a list of things we learned/acomplished during the week.
2. Students write a letter to a family member using a friendly letter format. They are encouraged to use classroom tools to help with spelling (Word Wall, picture dictionary, etc)
3. Students draw and color an illustration that corresponds with the topic of their letter.
4. Over the weekend, students are supposed to read their letter to a family member and then that family member writes them back.
5. During the next week, several students share their letters/responses with the class during our Morning Meeting. I usually select 4-5 students to share each morning.

I feel that the books provide a strong link between home and school. Students are getting practical writing practice and an opportunity to share their learning with others.

Parent's love the folders and tell me what a wonderful memory book their children are creating. If I remember correctly, the Responsive Classroom series discusses Family Weekend Journals. (I don't have my books at home to check.) Try

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We are family
Posted by: Therese

This is a fun activity and my kids love it every year. I have the song "We Are Family" by sister sledge and I have the lyrics that can be found on cut into strips. This is a non verbal activity as I play the song in my classroom each table needs to listen and work as a team to place the lyrics in the correct order as the song is sung. This does two things at once works on cooperation and listening skills. You can choose any song you want to do this with. The important thing is processing after the activity. Ask questions of how working as a team helped them accomplish this task and record it . How did they communicate with each other without talking. Was everyone participating was this a good thing or a bad thing. Groups that had problems I asked if they could do this again what would they do differently to improve their teamwork.

Simplified Family Tree
Posted by: heggyrik

The family tree is not a traditional family tree with the different layers and multiple is a simplified version where the students will just draw and label themselves and any members of their family that they can think of on little circles and then they will glue them onto a tree picture. I think that most of my students will be able to handle it, and I can easily differentiate up by having the higher students put their grandparents above their parents and so forth.

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Third Grade Interview
Posted by: ConnieWI

At the end of third grade, I have my students interview their parents or grandparents about their third grade experience. We create the questions together, I type them, and then they interview their parents over several nights. Eventually, it becomes a three to four paragraph end-of-year writing for their writing folder.

I am attaching the questions from last year.

Maybe your family book could start small and build over the course of the year...small interviews now...larger ones in the future...vary the topics. Each child could make a family book, but whenever each child interviews a family member, you could also make a class book about that particular interview.

Start with
--interview a sibling about the best time they have ever had with your family.
--interview your mom about the best family vacation she has ever taken.
--interview your dad about his job.
--interview your grandmother/aunt about her childhood friends.

I hope this helps.

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family hands
Posted by: O

We give our students a large piece of white paper to have family members trace their hands on. They may decorate it however they wish to, describing themselves. We then laminate the result, and place it in the hallways. After the display we bind it into a book and the students enjoy it all year long.

family unit quickies
Posted by: deb

- Each child makes a "family tree" in which he draws each member of his family on a small square or circle and glues the pieces on "the leaves" section of a construction paper tree.
- Read Patricia Polacco's (sp?)The Keeping Quilt. (I think that's what it is called.) Send each student home with a 9x9 inch square to decorate with photos, drawings, clipart or magazine pictures of things that represent his family. When the squares are returned, share them and them "sew" them together into a large class quilt by punching 3 holes along each side and using yarn to connect the squares to each other. (An easier way to connect them is to glue them onto a large piece of mural paper, leaving a border around each square.)
- Graph the number of family members in each child's family. Discuss results.
- Honor an older person in the family with a Golden Guest Award, instead of a Golden Globe award. Each child draws a picture of their guest which is glued on a small piece of gold paper, so that it resembles a trophy. Label the gold paper section as one would an award. IE: Grammy Jones - Best Hugger or Aunt Mabel - Funniest Joke Teller. Have a tea to present these awards.

No title
Posted by: ellsie

Here a few ideas:

1. Graphing number of people in family

2. Glyph about your family. (you can use a picture of a house- or a child)

3. I usually send home an apple the first week of school (we do families as the second theme of our year) and ask the families to glue family pics on one side and family name on the other. (I use Apples b/c I hang them from the ceiling in September and then use them for our family theme)

4. We do family paper dolls. I give the students pre-cut paper dolls and they choose a doll for each person in their family- decorate each one with crayons- draw a background setting and then glue the paper dolls to the page. Sometimes I even ask them to label the pics. (Mom, dad, and brother and sister names are usually words they can spell)

5. We make collages from magazine pics. (families doing activities together)
Hope this helps.

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family theme
Posted by: ck

To show how everyone's family is different, and yet similar we did the following art project:
Every child was given a cut out of a house (or they can cut it out) which they decorated with windows, doors, etc. They were given one strip of paper for each person in their family. A name was written on each strip & a paper chain was made of the names. The chain was then stapled onto the bottom of the house. Each house was labeled "In My House...." We had these hanging from the ceiling. It was interesting to compare the 2 loop chains, 3-4 loop chains and even the 9 loop chain! If you wish to add more "education" to the project (depending on your age group, I had pre-schoolers) you can include (learning) writing their address & phone numbers onto the houses.
Although I did not do this (my kids are way too young), a book you may consider: Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley. As a sister goes searching for her brother to get him to come home for supper, she stops off at various neighbors in her diverse neighborhood. Everyone seems to be having an ethnic rice dish for supper! This book opens lots of doors to different cultures (Barbados, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, Italy). Students can chart/graph the different ethnic cultures mentioned in the book, list the specific rice recipe for each, create a cook book of the recipes (& include their own family/ethnic favorites). Maybe you can "wrap up" your unit with an ethnic taste sampling .... rice recipes are included .. and they can graph/rate their favorites.
OK, I got you started, now you do the rest! Have a great student teaching experience and good luck!

Posted by: Cathy

There are some wonderful Big Books that teach family and the diversity of family. You can have students discuss what family means to them. There are books that deal with one parent families and grandparents raising children, step families and joined families. You should not go by what the webster dictionary says. Family is more of a feeling. I had a a child's mother and step father and dad come to parent teachers conference. I call that a family. YOu dan't have to live with a parent to have them considered family. Students will be abole to give you the most info on what they consider their family. Have students draw a dinner table and who they would like to have be there at the dinner, like thanksgiving. That would be their family. Family is not the same as nuclear family or traditional family.

family unit
Posted by: christine

My kids loved interviewing their grand-parents ( I first checked to make sure everyone had a grand-parent, aunt, or even older friend to talk to, in person or on the phone). We decided on 3 subjects and asked 'When you ( grand-parent) were 10 years old, what games did you play? what was your classroom like? what kind of food did you eat?'.The family time line was a great success too.

Family Tree "House"
Posted by: Sherri

Instead of family trees, make family tree houses. The people who live in the house are included on the tree. Grandmas and grandpas, mom's friend, etc. The kids can relate to this better than the family history.

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family projects
Posted by: dolly

One theme unit we did was entitled "All About Me" and each child had typical "baby book" questions that needed to be answered (size, weight, hospital, first steps, first word, etc.) They were done up nicely on one or two sheets of paper with decorated "answer boxes" similar to what you might find in a baby book. We also had a baby photo option. Each child had an opportunity to share their booklet with the class. We included up-to-date statistics (height, weight, picture, etc.) as the math section of the unit, as comparison. I saved them & included them in our "end of the year" activity packets (select samples of the child's work throughout the year). We also included updated statistics of height, weight, & a picture, etc. as a comparison for a "See How I've Grown" page. Family feed back was great!

We also did a unit about our families where another answer sheet was sent home, data was collected and shared with the class. (Number in family, brothers, sisters, what kind of pets, share a room or not,etc.) We did math activities of charting, making comparisons, etc. with the information we rec'd. We included learning our addresses/phone numbers with this project. Each child had a house outline to cut out and color/decorate. I had printed up address stickers and read them off for the children to recognize. They then put them on the house cutout. For each family member living in their house, they made a paper loop with their name, relationship and/or age. These were put together as a chain and hung from the bottom of the house cutout. The houses were then hung from the classroom ceiling, each with their own paper chain "tail". These were up during our open house & the families really enjoyed it!
We also had family members send in pictures of items for the letter of the week. These would be cut out of magazines and the newspapers. Each child would glue their pictures onto a page with that letter on it. My aide & I (or mother helpers) would then write the name of the item underneath each picture. The pages were laminated and held together with those ring clasps until the alphabet was completed. The books were then bound together and each child had their own unique alphabet book. I have had some parents tell me that their children still had them and were teaching younger siblings the alphabet with them!
You can include sharing a favorite book with families, where each child in turn takes a book home and shares it with the family. They in turn, write back their reactions or responses in a binder that goes home with the book. The responses are shared with the class. Every month there can be a different book circulated and shared. Sometimes teachers will purchase or make cute little backpacks or things to keep the items in. A similar home-school connection can be created with a classroom "stuffed pet", where the children get to keep the classroom mascot for a week or a few days. Parents then log in the activties that "teddy" got to share in. [We went to the pool, but Teddy was afraid of the water, so he sat on a chair and played cards with Grandma.]
Lots of ideas to get you started Jamie! Good Luck!

Family Traditions
Posted by: dancer2007

I am student teaching in a first grade classroom and we just did a lesson on family traditions. If they are not at the level of understanding traditions yet, have them talk about who is in their family that lives in their house, and what they like to do with their family.

I asked them all what a tradition meant to them. Then had them each give me an example of one. I had a house template that they put together with lines on the back. Then said to them tell me about your family, and what is one tradition you do with your family.

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