Celebrate Family Story Month
Creative lesson and activity ideas that record family stories and memories.
By Dawn Dodson
A subject continually increasing in popularity is genealogy, or discovering one’s ancestors. In the spirit of celebrating our roots, the month of November is National Family Story Month. During a time traditionally set aside for gathering with people we cherish, the upcoming holiday season makes the perfect time to delve into sharing and recording favorite stories that family members love to share. Commemorating Family Story Month in the classroom can take shape in a variety of ways. From simple activities and games, to more involved research and writing projects, celebrating family history is a meaningful instructional opportunity that has a lasting effect. The following ideas and resources are designed to celebrate Family Story Month while engaging pupils through researching and celebrating their ancestry.
Family Scrapbook Research Projects
As an alternative to a research essay, a family scrapbook is a project that has the potential to become a family heirloom. Depending upon available time and resources, there are two ways to initiate this project:
- Pupils can begin by interviewing and collecting artifacts from various family members. After initial research is gathered, online resources and community library resources can be utilized to further investigate family history. The depth to which learners research family genealogy can be an individual or instructor decision. Although the internet provides many family history websites, Family Search is a free online organization that accesses a large database of information for family tree research. After research is gathered and organized, placing the information in the scrapbook begins. Pages of the scrapbook can be filled with family trees, interviews, life stories, photographs, and artifacts that were collected over the course of the research.
- Another way to complete the project is to limit the research to immediate family, and require pupils to interview multiple relatives. During the interviews, artifacts that represent each individual in the family are collected, including a photograph of each person interviewed. Each page in the scrapbook becomes a tribute to a family member. It should include stories and quotes from the interview, photos, and artifacts.
Family Board Games
After interviewing family members, students always arrive at school with humorous family stories. Channel these fun facts, along with other family information, into creating a board game. Games can be structured as trivia, memory, or a game of chance. The information that is included in the board game is generated from family stories. Photographs of family members can be used on the game board, and items that represent each member can be the game pieces. Instructions for set-up and rules for playing the game must be created. Instead of formal project presentations, finished games can be played in class.
Another creative way to practice writing and record family stories is to design a family newspaper. To complete this project, writers need to study the parts of a newspaper and be introduced to basic newspaper-related vocabulary. This can be as general or specific as the teacher desires. Each newspaper should include at least a headline story, feature story, an interview, a recipe, comic strip, and a letter to the editor. For each component of the newspaper, pupils include family information or stories. For example, an interview about Dad’s favorite pastime, Grandma’s favorite cake recipe, and a comic of the time the favorite family dog helped himself to the holiday dinner, are ways writers can creatively portray family stories. The title of the newspaper can even be related to the pupils’ names. Online newspaper templates are readily available to help students in formatting writing.
November commemorates family history, and there are several ways to recognize it throughout the month. Researching, creative writing, and constructing board games are only a few ways to observe Family Story Month.
More Lesson Ideas:
Learners study African American history and create quilts that demonstrate their learning. This can be modified to also include an individual family history study and create a quilt depicting important family stories.
This is a multi-day unit that includes a study of each pupil’s family history. It is compiled into a display that is presented on a special evening. This project gives both pupils and their families an opportunity to share their stories and culture.
A language lesson to help learners identify members of family and assign appropriate character traits to each. As an extension, they can create a presentation to name their family and identify each member’s character traits.