My Family Tree

Hook: Find a book that has an emphasis on family. This can be a traditional or non-traditional family. I would recommend reading at least two books in order for all of the students to connect with the stories. Have students identify the different members of the families. Options: Mixed Blessing by Marsha Cosman, Welcome to the Family by Mary Hoffman, Me and My Family Tree by Joan Sweeney.

Purpose: Do you remember when we read _________ or __________? Who were the characters in the story? What roles did they each play in their families? (Teacher or students begin to write a list of all the family members on the board. Ex. mother, father, grandma, cousin, dog, etc.) Do you see how every member of the family has a role to play? Some clean, some do yard work, some work, and some tell great stories! We know the people we live with very well. When writing it can help to write about people we love or know a lot about. Today I am going to model how to draw a family tree to find a story about a family member.

Brainstorm: The students created a list of family members from the books on the board. The students continue to add to the list of people not mentioned in the books that they may add in their family tree.

Model: Share your family tree. The teacher begins by writing their name in the lower center of the page, draws their siblings next to them. Above the siblings are your parents and their siblings. Then above that their parents. Include cousins, children, step-parents, or anyone else who may apply. Some families can become very complicated, so do not go more than a couple generations. For each picture label who they are.

Shared/Guided Writing: Students start on a separate sheet of paper writing their names. They continue to draw their own families. They label each member and draw a picture of them. If there are any key characteristics or items that the student associates with them, then encourage them to draw it to bring about more stories. Have the students share with a partner their family tree. Let the students share stories about their family members.

Independent Writing: Have the students pick a member of their family. In their writer’s notebook, let them write a story that they know or remember about that member. The students can refer back to their drawing or family tree as needed to include qualities and characteristics that they drew about that family member or how they are related in their family tree. The teacher is working on or drafting their own family tree and writing about his/her family in the writer’s notebook as well.

Reflection: Student’s examine their writer’s notebook entries, and other writing pieces from their files to identify other stories that relate to their family tree. Student’s reflect on progress in writing skills.

How effective was drawing out the family tree? How did including images help or hinder the process?

What kinds of stories came to mind to prompt writing?

How connected did you feel to the stories?

Do you want to share these stories with your family? Why or why not.


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