by Toisha Burns | Lakeshore Marketing
Families come in all shapes and sizes. This can be hard for young children to understand…since they spend so much time with the same, familiar family. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to teach kids about family diversity—no traveling required.
Keep reading to get directions for five hands-on classroom activities that help kids explore all the ways families can be different—from the kinds of houses they live in to the activities they do for fun.
1. Home, Sweet Home!
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Find pictures of different types of homes families live in around the world. Share the pictures with students and guide them through a comparing and contrasting activity of the photos. What parts of the houses are similar to the one you live in? How are they different? After discussing the homes, use a map to find the regions where these homes are located. Use a push-pin or tape to add each picture to the map in the region it’s from. If the photo covers the entire region, use a string to point to the region and tack the photo off to the side.
Display the map on one of your bulletin boards and use it throughout the year to conduct more compare and contrast activities with students…like people, foods, clothing, etc.
2. Who’s in Your Family?
Discuss how there are many types of families and that they take on different shapes and sizes. Show children different pictures of families.
Provide each child with a 5″ x 5″ piece of white paper and crayons or colored pencils. Ask them, “Who’s in your family?” Have children draw a picture of their family in the center of the paper. Using 5 Jumbo Craft Sticks, show children how to assemble the shape of a house around their picture and glue the craft sticks together. Center the picture of the family in the frame and glue it in place. Have each student write their family name on their house. Display the houses by hanging them around the classroom.
3. Families Grow Like Trees
Continue the conversation with students about family members. What is a generation? Depending on the level of your students, the conversation can be as simple as explaining the parent-to-child relationship and how it defines generations. For example, grandparents are a generation, parents are a generation and you are a generation. Families are made up of multiple generations, and these generations make up our family trees.
Assist children in creating a family tree. Provide each of them with an empty and clean paper towel roll, a 9″ paper plate and a sheet of construction paper. Have them decorate the paper plate to represent the top of a tree. They can collage and/or paint it. Assist them in gluing the paper plate and the paper towel roll onto the construction paper to create their tree. Provide them with circles, and on each circle have them draw a family member and label it with their relationship. Remind them to also create a circle for themselves. Finally, have students glue on the family member circles beginning with their circle just above the tree trunk. Then have them add their parents above them, then their grandparents and so on…
For a more challenging activity:
Have students research and create a list of relatives as far back as they can, making sure to document not only names, but relationships. Encourage them to interview family members to gather as much information as possible. Invite them to build their own family tree using the information collected. Once complete, allow students to present their family trees to the class. How many generations were you able to trace? Invite them to share one interesting fact they discovered, during the interviews, about their family or a family member.
4. Family Facts
This next activity is great for use as a morning warm-up or end-of-day wrap-up. Complete a Family Facts graphing exercise each day as a group. Set up a graphing area in your classroom. This could be on a dry-erase board or a graphing pad. Title the graph with the fun fact question you want the children to answer about their families.
Introduce the daily question to the class and have students write their names on the graph under their answer. Review the results with the class once everyone has had a chance to contribute. Here are some topic suggestions:
a. Do you have family in another country?
b. How many people are in your family?
c. How many letters in your family name?
d. Have you vacationed outside of the United States?
e. How many pets do you have?
Expand questions further to allow students to share more about their families. For example, invite students to share which countries they have family members living in or what places they have vacationed to outside of the United States.
5. What’s in a Name?
Write each students’ first or last name on a sentence strip. Invite students to sit in a circle with the sentence strips face down in the center of it. Invite a student to pick a sentence strip from the pile and read the name to the class. Have the student whose name it is stand up. Demonstrate for students how to clap the syllables found in the name. Invite them to clap the number of syllables found by saying the name. Once the class has clapped the syllables in that name, invite that student to pick a new card and repeat the process.