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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Family Heirlooms

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/IS24/pshea/Heirlooms.html

Purpose of the Project

This intergenerational project might be used in conjunction with grandparent's day or the Japanese holiday, "Respect for the Aged Day," which is celebrated in September.

Academic Objectives:
To improve communication skills through the interview process. {literacy} To understand the past through oral history. {social studies}  To understand how family stories are heirlooms. {social studies, values education} To construct a photo album reminiscent of days past. {social studies, art}

Art & Technology Skills Targeted:
To reproduce an old time family album in the 40's style using a model. To utilize the laser scanner in order to preserve cherished family photos. To publish family stories using the word processor.

Student Activities:

Student Aim: How are photo albums historical artifacts? To construct class album relating personal family stories
Display  a scrapbook from the 1940's or earlier.  Ask the students to present ideas, comments, and impressions while you turn the pages.  Build shared experiences. Write descriptive and personal comments on the board.  Ask:  How are photo albums historical artifacts? (Aim)


1. Motivation. Aim.

2. Discuss the purpose and contents of family albums, eliciting thoughts from students concerning their value.

3. Show a photo without a caption.  As students attempt to describe what is shown in the photo, elicit the idea that the circumstances are often mysterious.

4. How can we learn more about the scene and the people in it?  Elicit:  Ask someone.

5. Discuss interview as an important vehicle of gathering information.

6. Present the challenge.  All students should interview a senior family member
(ideally, a grandparent  or great aunt/uncle) while paging through a family album or box of old photographs.  Students should ask questions, elicit the names of those pictured, a story surrounding the circumstances, the setting, etc. while taking notes.

7. Students should develop a well-written story that will be used as a caption for the photo in the class' album.

8. After all photos and stories are collected, ask: How are these photos and stories family heirlooms?  Question:  how might we use the photos for our project without damaging them or risking loss?  Elicit:  Use the scanner to duplicate the images.

9. After scanning photos, students print out reproductions of the originals on special photo paper.  Decorative decal edged scissors should be used to trim the photos imitating the old time pattern.

10. Students type anecdotes/captions using the word processor (preferably a script font to imitate the scrapbook style shown in the model)

How are family photo albums historical artifacts?  How are the family stories


Other Activities and/or Follow up Assignments:
1. Create a family album of your own by securing photos and family stories.

2. Create a scrapbook displaying photos and memorabilia from your own life from birth to the present-- a wonderful project to work on with parents.




Pat Shea-Bischoff is a teacher at I.S. 24 in Staten Island, New York.  Pat is also the International Reading Association Coordinator for New York State and former President of the New York State Reading Association.


Estimated Class Periods to Complete: 3

Subject: Language Arts, Art, Social Studies, Values Education

Beginning Grade Level 7

Ending Grade Level 8

Title: Family Heirlooms




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