Let your students share stories about their own unique families with an underlying theme of all families, whether traditional or not, as loving and caring ensembles.
- Recite finger-plays about families
- Draw a picture of their own family
- Compare different kinds of families
- Construct a pattern square
- Assemble a paper quilt together
- Photo of your family
- Pictures of diverse families or books about families (I like to use Families by Ann Morris)
- Picture of a quilt or a real quilt for demonstration
- Quilt Square Master Template printable (with 6" x 6" square)
- Family Quilt Square Template printable (with 6" x 6" square)
- Blank word or index cards
- Black marker
- Pocket chart
- Butcher paper
- Two different colored crayons for quilt pattern, one of each color per student
- Optional: Book about quilts (I like to use The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco)
- Choose a family photo from your own collection. Make sure to choose one that includes all of your family members (or as many as possible).
- Gather examples of different kinds of families. I like to use a picture book for this (Families by Ann Morris works well), but you could also find photos of diverse families to share with students.
- Choose a quilt to bring into class for a demonstration. If you don't have a quilt at home, you can find a photo of one or choose a picture book about quilts to share.
- Make a class set of the Quilt Square Master Template. You will want the squares to be 6" x 6", so you may need to resize the template before copying.
- Make a class set of the Family Quilt Square Template, plus an extra copy for you.
- Set up the pocket chart, black marker, and word or index cards for the Day 1 activity.
- Map out the dimensions of the class quilt. Each student will create two quilt squares (a pattern and a picture of their family). I have 20 children in my class, so I made our quilt 5 squares by 8 squares. This gives 20 family pictures quilt squares with 20 geometric quilt squares. I also include a 6" border of squares around the edges of the quilt. Including the 6" border of squares, the dimensions of the butcher paper backing for a class of 20 students should be about 42" x 60".
- Cut a sheet of butcher paper large enough to hold everyone's quilt squares.
- Choose your two colors for the quilt pattern squares. Collect enough crayons in each color for every student to have one of each color for the Day 2 activity.
Step 1: Gather students for a whole group discussion about families. Ask who is a member of a family and describe how each of us is a family member and that families are diverse. Share a photo of your family and introduce your family members.
Step 2: Share pictures of other families you've collected or a book about families, like Families by Ann Morris. Ask students to look for the different kinds of family members in the pictures or illustrations.
Step 3: Tell students that families are made up of lots of different kinds of family members, and we have words to describe them. Ask students to name some of their family members (Mom, Dad, Aunt, etc.) and write the names on the word or index cards. After writing each word, add the card to the pocket chart. Add any family vocabulary not mentioned by the students.
Step 4: Choose five of the family vocabulary words and teach the children a finger play to the tune of "Where Is Thumpkin?" Use the traditional finger movements and pattern. One version might be:
Where is mom? Where is mom?
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you today then?
Very well I thank you.
Run away. Run away.
Step 5: Repeat the pattern with uncle, sister, step mom, grandpa, etc. Singing various versions will help build vocabulary and show how families have different configurations.
Step 6: End the song with this final verse:
Where is the family? Where is the family?
Here we are. Here we are.
How are you today then?
Very well we thank you.
Run Away. Run Away.
Step 1: Gather students and ask if anyone knows what a quilt is. Share a quilt or picture of a quilt and tell students that quilts are a "folk art" and are used for more than warmth. Many families use them to tell stories or help them to remember people.
Step 2: Share with students that the class will be making a quilt to show the different kinds of families in the classroom. Although most quilts are made of cloth, theirs will be made of paper.
Optional: You may want to read a book about quilts from your library. I like to read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco because it connects to later lessons on immigration and family ancestry.
Step 3: Tell students that quilts often have patterns. Show the pattern in your quilt example and tell students that you'll be using just a few colors in your class quilt so that the pattern will be easy to see.
Step 4: Distribute the Quilt Square Master Template to each student along with two crayons of different colors. Ask students to name the large shape on their paper and trace it with their finger (square). Then ask them to name the smaller shapes inside the square (triangles). How many are there? Count them together.
Step 5: Ask students to take one crayon and color any two triangles. When everyone is finished, ask them to take their other crayon and color the two remaining triangles.
Step 6: When students are finished coloring the triangles, have them cut out the square in one piece.
Step 7: Gather students and ask them to come up and place their squares with those that are colored in the same manner. Count the number in each group together.
- Glue students' colored squares to the sheet of butcher paper in a checkerboard pattern, leaving spaces for the family picture quilt squares. Make a few extra geometric quilt squares so that each row will have the same colored pattern.
- Place a pattern of squares around the edge of the quilt, creating a 6" border. Hang the quilt on the wall so that everyone can see it. You will be adding the family picture quilt squares later.
Step 1: Show students your sample family picture quilt square, indicating how you drew the people in your family, including yourself. Tell students that for the class quilt, you would like for them to draw a picture of their family.
Step 2: Distribute the Family Quilt Square Template printable. Ask students to write their name on the paper and in the quilt square where it reads "The family of ___________." Then they should draw a picture of their family. Remind them to include themselves in their pictures.
Step 3: When students are finished drawing, ask them to cut out the square.
Step 4: Gather students and ask them to share their picture with the group. Students should explain who each family member is. When each student is done sharing, glue their picture in place on the quilt.
Step 5: Ask students to notice the quilt's patterns. When it is finished, take a moment to look at the quilt together in silence. Then ask: How are our families different? How are they the same? How do you feel when you look at this family quilt?
Supporting All Learners
- If some students haven't developed fine motor skills, help them color and cut out their quilt squares.
- Write students' names on the quilt squares if they can't.
- Encourage more capable students to label their pictures.
- Invite a quilter to visit the classroom and discuss the craft.
- Share the group quilt with other classes and have your students tell how it shows the diversity of their families.
- Color a paper quilt square
- Draw a family picture
- Assemble a class family quilt
- Did students use family vocabulary?
- Were students able to illustrate their families?
- Was there enough time for all students to be successful?
- Did students have the fine motor skills to work independently?
- Were students engaged and on task the entire time?
- How would you do this lesson differently next time?
- Observe children's oral responses, finger coordination during the finger-play, and their illustrations.
- Assess fine motor skills during drawing and cutting.
- Check to see which students are using letters or words.