At the beginning of the year, getting to know our students is key to building relationships. Relationships are key to the success of our classroom. That’s what makes a family unit so important at the beginning of the year We get to know our students by exploring families and getting to know their families! And just an FYI: we have done this unit in person and virtually and it works great both ways!
Families Unit: Turn And Talk
Since this family research project is done early in the year, we focus more on getting the kids to turn and talk and share. We do some drawing/writing but more of our focus is on talking, sharing, and creating graphic organizers.
We start our family theme with the book And Tango Makes Three. I feel like this is an important place to start because I want my students to understand that all families are different and a family is a family no matter who is in that family. When teaching about families it is IMPERATIVE that we are inclusive of ALL family types. This is not negotiable. This means we discuss different families, we include books that show all types of families and we are sure to create a safe space for our students to share about their families. Again, this is not negotiable.
This story is very personal to us because I read this book to my class to share with them that we were adopting a baby. It was a huge success and because it’s a true story it really provides a great opportunity for discussing families.
Each of the graphic organizers is designed to spur conversation about various aspects of families and family dynamics.
We start by discussing who can be in a family. We kick off this activity by reading The Family Book by Todd Part and sharing who can be in a family. Then the students draw their families.
The next day we discuss what families can do together.
We also discuss what families do that irritate us! This one is my favorite because it’s hilarious!
It’s also important that we share and discuss all types of families and how families are different! We compare and contrast different family types and who has siblings! This is also our introduction to Venn Diagrams. This works well because it’s a very concrete comparison that the students can grasp.
Families: Graphing Data
This families unit also makes for some great graphing questions!
This graph was a bit challenging, so we asked each student who lived in their house. We counted each person and that was the number they graphed. This made it more concrete for them.
For this graph, we not only graphed if we had a pet but we talked about our pets and how to care for them.
At the end of the unit, students drew a picture of their family and wrote/dictated something they like to do with their family.
We also did fingerprints as part of our families unit. This was a fun way to show that we are all unique and individuals even in our family!
Self Portrait Art Project
As part of our Family Research Project, the students make a self-portrait. As with all of our art projects, this is process art. That means the students receive the materials and do the work themselves. Nothing is done for them. I model a step and they do the step. This means each piece is truly unique and is a true self-portrait. We start with the body (students choose the color they want), then we add the head and facial features. Finally, we do the hair. For the hair, the students are encouraged to make the hair look like their hair. We talk about our different hair and ways we could make the hair and then do it independently.
Here are some of the books we read and recommend for this research project: (click the image to see the list on Amazon or CLICK HERE!)
For more on research projects, check out this post:
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