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Adaptor Grants Home:
Teachers Network: Adaptor Grants:Creating A Family Tree
Adapted By:
Nancy Welch

Ms. Welch has been teaching ten years, seven of them in the NYC public schools. She earned a BA at Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters degree in Elementary Education at Adelphi University.

P.S. 124
New York, NY


I used Miss Stephenson's exciting unit on creating a family tree and adapted it to meet the needs of a first grade gifted class. The original unit had been written for a fourth grade so I knew that it needed to be scaled down in scope yet retain the flavor of the original unit. The first thing I did was help the students identify types of community, and from there we narrowed it to a study of family within the community. Next we discussed different types of families, for example single parent households, families with adopted children, etc. We connected this knowledge to our class read aloud, Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We did this by studying "her" family and then taking a close look at her family tree (available on-line and as the frontispiece to most editions of the book). We explored what a family tree is, and compared it to a real tree with roots and branches. As we read Little House in the Big Woods I emphasized family stories within the book and encouraged the students to share their own family stories. The next step of the project was creating their own family tree, which extended back as far as grandparents. The next step was to interview a person on their tree and in narrative form transcribe their story. For this the students practiced writing interview questions. Finally the students interviewed their family member and from there we used a multi-step writing process to complete our trees. Our trees were decorated with family photographs and the completed project now graces our bulletin board.

Instructional Objectives

Students will identify and understand the family as a vital part of the community.

Students will write and conduct interviews.

Students will transcribe interviews into a narrative account of a family story.

Students will take a piece of writing through the writing process. (draft, edit, revision, publish).

Technology Integration

We looked at on-line genealogy web-sites including:

Genealogy Today: Junior Edition

Ancesters- A companion web site to the PBS family history and genealogy series.


The students were assessed through the quality of their work and how well they understood the concept. To receive the grade of 4 on a rubric, the following criteria would have to be met: The family tree contains 3 generations. First and last names are included. All pictures are effective. Spelling and capitalization correct throughout. The poster is exceptionally attractive in terms of lay-out, design, and neatness

Tips for Teachers

My students are only first graders so naturally the content in most genealogy sites is beyond them academically. However it was helpful for them to see the scope of a full scale family search and the different ways in which people approach research. With creativity most units can be adapted to meet the needs and levels of any class.

Student Work Samples

Click on each thumbnail to see a full-screen version.



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