Social Studies - Kindergarten
Standard 1 Objective 2
Patricia Polacco's family stories provide an interesting and neutral way to begin discussions about families. Students can make connections from their own family experiences to some of her family experiences.
One per class:
One per student:
Note: Other options for an author study may include Kevin Henke or Mercer Mayer. Both have written and illustrated a number of books about family relationships.
The enduring understanding for Standard II is for students to be able to discuss, “What is the relationship?” The focus for this lesson is to discuss the relationship between family members. Emphasis should be placed on the contributions of family members and the traditions established to strengthen family relations. Therefore, the important concept is how people in a family help to care for one another. Each child should feel like their family is special and unique. Sensitivity should be shown during class discussions concerning the dynamics of individual families.
Author Patricia Polacco has written many books about her childhood and the family members who influenced her. Ms. Polacco shares family traditions from her Russian and Irish heritage. She talks about the relationships she had with her grandparents, parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins as she was growing up, and explains important concepts she learned from these people. In every case she shares how the care and love she received from her family strengthened their relationships with each other. Ms. Polacco’s stories provide an interesting and neutral way to begin discussions about families. Students can make connections from their own family experiences to some of her family experiences.
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
2. Develop social skills and ethical responsibility.
3. Demonstrate responsible emotional and cognitive behaviors.
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Ask the class, "What are some things your family does to help you?" and "What are some things you can do to help your family?" Tell the students that during the next week we will be reading stories about families and talking about our own families. We want to think of many different ways that families help each other.
Draw and write a response to each question on a Post-It® note and
place it on the Story Structure chart in the corresponding
space. Continue this procedure with each story. As you begin to
see similarities and differences that arise in each book, discuss
them with the class. For example, in The Keeping Quilt and When
Lightning Comes In A Jar, Patricia learns the stories and
traditions of her ancestors from the older members of her family,
such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Ask the class to begin to
identify different ways that Patricia's family members are helpful
to one another. Responses may include: "In Thunder Cake, Grandma helps Patricia overcome her fear of thunderstorms." "In
The Bee Tree, Grandpa helps Mary Ellen understand reading is
important." Next, ask the class to discuss, "How is your family
helpful to one another?"
Note: While working on the Story Structure chart, explicitly explain to your class that narrative stories usually follow the pattern they are noticing in each of these family stories. Patterns are often found in words and stories just like patterns are found in math. Ask the class to look for patterns in the words and stories they read at home and at school.
Family Traditions Survey
Explain to the students that Patricia had some family traditions that were important to her. For example, the family reunion she went to each summer. Tell the students that you are going to be sending home a Family Traditions Survey. Ask your students to have their parents help them answer the questions on the paper and return it to school so we can talk about our own family traditions. (You may wish to send the survey page home earlier so you already have the student responses to the questions at this time.) What are some family traditions you have? Why are these traditions important to your family? Allow the students to share their responses with a partner or in small groups so there is opportunity for more students to contribute to the conversation.
My Family Traditions Book
Next, tell the students they are going to make a book and record some of their favorite family traditions in it. It is suggested you make a four-page layered book as shown. Layer one is the cover of the book and should have the name of the book and the author. For example, My Family Traditions by Johnny Smith. Layer two may describe a favorite family meal. Layer three may describe a favorite family book or story. Layer four may describe a favorite family vacation. Students may illustrate each page and label the picture, or write a complete sentence to match the picture for each page. The format is versatile, so students may choose to record different family traditions than those listed above. Remind the students to use the ideas they shared on the Family Traditions survey to help them give responses for each book page. This project may take as long as a week to complete. Allow time for students to read their completed books with each other.
The following activities have been included with this lesson plan to help provide students with a variety of ways to practice as they develop their understanding of narrative stories. These activities allow students to respond to books and stories through retellings. Retellings can improve students' comprehension as they engage in remembering the structure and content of the text. As students select information from a text that is worth remembering, retellings help focus selective attention on relevant information. When students make connections to the text from their own lives they are able to generate meaning from the text in a personal way.
These tools can be used with a whole class, small groups, and even in centers as student partners discuss the elements of a given story.
The My Family Traditions book may be dated and kept in a student’s portfolio. By looking at this work sample the teacher and family can identify what traditions are most meaningful to the child and strengthen family relationships. Also, it is an excellent record of the student’s writing ability.