Students interview relatives about their heritage, make a family tree, and map their ancestors' migration in this lesson unit on America's cultural diversity.
- Follow project guidelines to complete their Heritage Project
- Use reference material to locate flags from each country in their family background
- Reflect on what they have learned and accomplished after the project's completion
- Taste foods from different cultures
- Computer and color printer
- Black-line master coloring page of a U.S. flag
- Posterboard or tri-fold display boards, one per student
- 12- x 18-inch sheets of construction paper in assorted colors, one for every two students
- Paper cutter
- Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
- Reference books that include pictures of world flags
- Plain paper
- Students' completed Family Tree Graphic Organizer, A Page From History assignment, and Charting Their Course world map from Lesson One: Discovering Your Heritage
- Students' completed Travel Log and A Trip to the Homeland: Passport to My Heritage from Lesson Two: A Trip to the Homeland
- Re-sealable sandwich bags, at least two per student
- Stapler or gluesticks
- Writing paper
- Rulers or yardsticks
- Read through all directions for Lesson Three before you plan your timeline. Many of the steps can be done simultaneously. For example, one group of students can use reference books or computers to find flag images while another group works on creating their title banners.
- Prepare the Heritage Project Guidelines and Grading Rubric you will use for the project (for Heritage Project Guidelines Sample Text, see Step 3 below). Print a class set of the guidelines and rubric.
- Prepare a Diversity Day and Heritage Food Festival parent letter (for Diversity Day and Heritage Food Festival Sample Text, see Step 1 below). Print enough copies for each member of your class.
- Make arrangements to use your school's gym, cafeteria, or another large space for the food festival.
- Check the Internet or professional resources for a black-line master of a U.S. flag that students can color. I found several online by typing the words "color the United States flag" into a search engine. Make enough copies for your class. If you prefer, students can simply draw their own flags on white paper.
- When preparing for Diversity Day and the Heritage Food Festival, contact all of your parent volunteers and presenters at least two days before the event and let them know when they should arrive. Send reminder notes home to all parents regarding the food festival. Include the time, place, and what to do with the food they are bringing. Remind students of manners to use with guests before parents and family members arrive.
- Following Diversity Day, send thank you notes to any parents who spoke with your class, led an activity, or helped with setting and/or cleaning up.
- Optional: If you are going to have students supply their own display boards, send home a note giving them enough notice to have the boards in class when you are ready to begin Part One.
- Optional: Use a paper cutter to cut 12- x 18-inch sheets of construction paper in half the long way for students' title banners. Skip this step if you plan to have students create their banners on the computer.
- Optional: Use a paper cutter to cut 2- x 3-inch pieces of white construction paper for students to color as flags. Students can also resize and print the flag images or cut their own.
- Optional: If you want to make a class cookbook of multicultural recipes, prepare a letter to parents explaining the project (see the Family Heritage Cookbook Sample Letter to Parents under Lesson Extensions). Send the letter home to parents at least two weeks before Diversity Day, depending on how much time you want to assemble the book.
A Note on Sample Texts: You may cut and paste the sample texts provided into a word processing document of your choice. After doing so, you can personalize each note to suit the needs of your classroom and to match your personal style. Changing the font size and/or style and adding clip art make big differences in the attractiveness of your notes.
The steps below will take approximately 2–3 class periods. The actual duration is dependent upon your due date.
Part One: Assembling the Final Projects
Duration: 3 days
Step 1: Send home the letter to parents regarding Diversity Day. You may also want to ask for volunteers to set and/or clean up.
Diversity Day and Heritage Food Festival Sample Text
On __________, we will have a special event to help bring our heritage study to a close. Diversity Day will be a chance for students to share and celebrate their background and heritage with classmates and their families. We would like to invite parents and family members to join us that morning to share a cultural connection with the class. This may be information about the country, its music, dance, dress, food, art and recreation. If you like, you may even plan a brief activity for the class to take part in.
After a morning that gives us a taste of cultures around the world, we will hold our Diversity Day Heritage Food Festival in the afternoon, featuring foods from around the world. We are asking each family to bring in a ready-to-serve dish related to their family's background. It does not have to be a food from the same country your child has researched. We are unable to heat any foods, so foods served cold or at room temperature are best if sent in the morning. Parents are welcome to bring in any hot dishes to the school between 2 and 2:30. Please label each dish with your name and include any necessary serving utensils.
All parents, grandparents and other family members you would like to bring are invited to attend our Heritage Food Festival on ________ from ____ to ____. You and your children will be able to sample appetizers, breads, cookies, desserts, and tastes of main courses from nations around the world, contributed by our families, while admiring the projects our class has so diligently worked on these past few weeks. I hope to see you there!
Step 2: Tell students that they have worked so hard learning about their family background that they need to show off what they have accomplished. The way they're going to do this is by putting together a display of their finished pieces.
Step 3: Distribute a copy of the Project Guidelines to each student. Go over the guidelines and expectations for a successful outcome. Inform students they still need to complete a few components of the project before they can begin putting it all together.
Heritage Project Guidelines Sample Text
Due Date: _____________
You have been learning about your family's heritage and researching a country over the past few weeks. Now it is time to put everything together into an attractive display so you can share what you have learned with your classmates and others. Follow the guidelines below to get 100% of the possible points!
Your display should include the following:
- An eye-catching title that includes your name (5 points)
- Family tree (10 points)
- World map showing your ancestor's/family's path of immigration and settlement leading to _______ [town] (10 points)
- Flag/Flags: the American flag and smaller flags representing other areas of your heritage (5 points)
- A Page From History: your written account of family history taken from an oral story. (10 points)
- Map: a map of your country, with a star or dot on the city or cities you visit during your imaginary trip there (5 points)
- Passport (5 points)
- Travel Log (45 points)
- You will also receive 5 points for turning your project in on time.
Remember, appearance and neatness count! It is okay if parts of your display neatly extend over the edges of your posterboard.* You can use clear re-sealable sandwich bags to hold your travel log and passport. Attach these bags to the posterboard so your travel log and passport can easily be removed for viewing.
Optional Ideas: You will earn 100 points if your display has all the necessary requirements listed above. You can earn extra points, if you like, by including anything else you like related to your family or heritage. Some ideas include:
- Copies of photographs of relatives/ancestors
- Copies of immigration or other interesting documents such as birth or marriage certificates
- Samples of traditional arts/crafts/clothing
- Common phrases in your country's language with translations
- A coat of arms
- Anything else you can think of!
*Note: If you would prefer to use a tri-fold display board you may do so. These offer more room, but are more costly.
Step 4: Provide one copy of the black-line American flag to each student and allow time for them to color it. Before starting, have students look at the flag in your classroom to review the color of the top stripe and the shade of blue used behind the stars. This seems like a common sense step that you could skip. However, speaking from experience, without referring to this minor detail, you may have many rather undesirable brick-red, white, and teal flags. This would also be the perfect time to review the meanings of our flag's stars and stripes.
Step 5: Visit your school's computer lab or allow students to use classroom computers to find flags from every country that's a part of their heritage. This can be done easily by cutting and pasting clip art from popular publishing or word processing programs. Students should resize the flags identically (2- x 3-inches each works well). Students should print and cut out the flags they need. If you prefer, ask students to draw the flags on white construction paper you've pre-cut to the right size.
Step 6: Tell students to choose theme colors for their project that coordinate with the flag colors of their country. Using computers or on pieces of 6- x 18-inch construction paper, have students create the title banner for their projects. Remind students the title needs to include the name of their country. Give various ideas for titles such as "Katie's Trek through Scotland" or "Charlie's Visit to Venezuela."
Step 7: Once all of the components of the project are finished, model how to put it all together. Using a student's completed pieces, demonstrate how to neatly organize and lay out the Family Tree, the A Page From History writing assignment, the world map, the passport (in a plastic baggie), the travel log (in another plastic baggie), the flags, and the title. Because there are so many parts, I show students how they can staple two sandwich bags to the bottom of the posterboard and use these as clear holders for their passport and travel log. Once again, reinforce the importance of a project's appearance and the need for all students to use their personal best effort while completing the project.
Step 8: At this point, if there is still more to be done, send the project home to be completed. I normally will not send projects home with students until I feel the major portion of the work has been done by the students. Once projects go home, many parents begin to feel a sense responsibility to "help" their children. Although the children may welcome the help at home, your students will feel a greater sense of accomplishment when the work is their own, and they can stand by it proudly. Personally, I also prefer to grade the work of an 8 year old than the artistic styling of a 38 year old!
Step 9: While you are waiting for the projects to be returned, check in with students daily to determine if they need any guidance or extra materials such as construction paper.
Step 10: Once projects have been returned to school, allow time for the students to share what they have learned with their classmates. Provide time at the end for students to receive compliments from their classmates.
Step 11: Grade your students' projects using a rubric that follows the point values established in the Project Guidelines. Whenever grading the final product of a unit, I always provide many personal comments. The compliments you pay your students acknowledging their successes are remembered much longer than the point values you assign them.
Step 12: Proudly display your students' completed projects in a place for all to see.
Part Two: Diversity Day and the Heritage Food Festival
"Diversity Day" is the culminating activity for this unit. During the morning, parents and guest speakers come to share information about cultures from around the world. They speak about the country, share artifacts or cultural icons, or do a multicultural art project with the class. During the afternoon, we celebrate our differences during the Heritage Day Food Festival, when each family brings in a dish to share potluck style.
Supporting All Learners
When Lesson Three begins, students have already completed the most difficult parts of the unit. At this point they only need to put everything together, and much of their success is dependent on the support they receive in the classroom. Show students what an attractive project looks like by modeling what you would expect a finished product to look like. You will find your visual learners benefit a great deal from your modeling how the project should be assembled. Those students with spatial abilities will likely be able to nicely design and layout their projects. Use those students as peer coaches to help others who may not be able to visualize how all of the different parts can be compiled attractively.
Flags of the World
Have your students recreate the flag of their country on an 18- x 24-inch sheet of white construction paper. Using markers, rulers, and a reference book with flags of the world, students draw and color the national flag of the country they studied. When these flags are completed, I hang them, banner-style, from the ceiling of the school hallways. These make a wonderful display to welcome the parents on Diversity Day.
Family Heritage Cookbook
Many of our students are growing up in households where traditions have been formed from blended cultures. Each year, with the help of parent volunteers, I put together our Family Heritage Cookbook. This book contains two recipes from each family. The first is a recipe that has cultural ties to their heritage, perhaps a dish served only on special occasions. The second recipe is simply a family favorite, a recipe that is enjoyed by all and has become a modern tradition in their family. Below you will find sample text of the letter I send home that you can use to help you prepare your letter.
Once the recipes have been returned, I organize them into categories such as appetizers, soups and salads, side dishes, main dishes, and desserts. Next the recipes are photocopied back to back. Each book is given a laminated, personalized front and back cover. Parent volunteers bind the cookbooks, and they are handed out to families on Diversity Day.
Family Heritage Cookbook Sample Letter to Parents
As we continue to study families and communities, we understand that food plays a major role in every culture. To celebrate the diversity we find in our classroom and our community, we will be putting together a Family Heritage Cookbook.
We have discussed many family traditions and traditional foods we may eat at different times. Each class member has been asked to bring in 2 recipes.
- One should be a favorite recipe derived from your child's heritage, perhaps something made for special occasions, holidays or just family dinners.
- The second should be a recipe for a family favorite, a dish, or dessert that is always a family pleaser!
These recipes should be neatly printed or typed on an 8.5- x 11-inch piece of paper. Remember to include a name on each recipe. If you like, feel free to add a few lines about the food, such as its origin, when your family eats it, or why it is a favorite. You may also add graphics or a decorative border or have your child decorate/illustrate the recipes appropriately. All recipes should be turned in no later than _________________________. Thank you for your help.
It is imperative that parents are kept informed of what is going on during a project such as this one. Send home all notices and reminders well before the event. Try to set a day and time for your food festival that will allow the biggest portion of your parent population to attend. Recruit as many parents as you can to present at Diversity Day. Let parents know that they do not have to do a huge presentation; it is simply a multicultural themed "show and tell" style way for adults to share what they know with children.
- Color or create an American flag
- Use the computer to find and print small flags representative of other nations in their heritage. Students may also draw these flags
- Create an attractive title banner which includes their name and the country name
- Display all of their finished products on a display board
- Write a reflective paragraph on the scoring rubric after their project has been graded
- Did you model enough?
- Were students able to follow your directions or did they seem confused about how to lay out their finished pieces?
- Was there enough time given for all the parts to be completed?
- Were more parent volunteers needed for Diversity Day?
- Was there enough food?
- Did the time of day work well for parents or would the food festival work better after school or during lunch?
- What would you do differently to improve this lesson for next year?
- Were students able to follow the guidelines to put their project together?
- Did students complete each of the required parts?
- Were students able to use reference materials to find the flags that were needed?
- Was the work the students' own?