K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Children will recognize family traditions and understand why they are important.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 week


The following is a suggested list of books that you may want to use as read-alouds if you include this lesson as part of a thematic unit.

The lesson is mainly based on the first book listed, The Relatives Came.

For Activity 2 the teacher will need to provide a completed sample book/product for student reference. See the sample in PowerPoint.

Supplies needed for book-making will vary based on type of book you choose to produce with your students.

Technology resources

An overhead or computer and LCD projector/Smart TV


Day 1

  1. Students should be familiar with the book The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. The teacher should re-read it to the whole class.
  2. Building background. Give and explain examples of traditions. (ie. special meals, rites of passage, yearly celebrations, inheritance, religious, naming, special family times). The focus should be on traditions and not necessarily on holidays for this lesson. However, holidays may and should be included in discussion of family traditions.
  3. Teacher will share from own experience. For example:
    • Every Sunday after church we have macaroni and cheese and hot-dogs for lunch.
    • Every summer we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
    • Once a week we go to the library.
  4. Send home a letter to parents asking them to talk about family traditions with their child and send a list of those the following school day. As an option you may want to suggest sending photos along with the list.


Day 2

  1. Using information collected in pre-activity 4 students will “think, pair, share” to answer the question “What is one of your family traditions and why is a tradition?” to broaden their understanding of family traditions. (For an overview of the “think, pair, share” strategy, see the ReadingQuest website.
  2. Students will use family tradition checklist as a guide for completing the final product which also assesses objectives for this lesson. Use the checklist as an overhead or other means of large display for student viewing. Using this checklist each student will write sentences and illustrate the first page of his/her book/product. It is not essential that all areas of checklist appear on every student’s page. After peer-review and then teacher-review (refer students to checklist if work is unacceptable), each student will make any necessary additions or changes and then begin a new page of his/her book of another family tradition. (Allot 20 to 30 minutes daily for students to complete one page of book encouraging thorough and best work.)

Students should complete a minimum of three pages for their final book. Students who need or want additional pages/time could work on this during free time.


Objectives are assessed through evaluation of the final product/book completed by each student. See the rubric for specific evaluation. This rubric is to be completed by teacher and/or student.

Supplemental information

Check with your media specialist/coordinator for additional resources.


  • Photographs of traditions will be helpful.
  • Allow LEP students to work in small groups or with added assistance(volunteer, buddy, assistant).
  • Teacher may have to work one on one to determine individual student’s family traditions.
  • Modify the checklist by including picture prompts such as a clock and calendar to indicate “when” and stick figures to indicate “who.”

Alternative assessments

See the ELL rubric for assessment alternatives. The final book/product may be reduced to 1-2 pages instead of 3 or more.

Critical vocabulary

  • tradition
  • celebration
  • holiday
  • ritual
  • ceremony
  • habit
  • routine
  • generation


This lesson is a follow-up to the lesson Who’s Your Mama? A Family Who’s Who

This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.C.1 Understand the diversity of people in the local community. 1.C.1.1 Compare the languages, traditions, and holidays of various cultures. 1.C.1.2 Use literature to help people understand diverse cultures.
      • Kindergarten

        • K.C.1 Understand how individuals are similar and different. K.C.1.1 Explain similarities in self and others. K.C.1.2 Explain the elements of culture (how people speak, how people dress, foods they eat, etc.).

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Development (2005)

  • Objective 0.03: Produce non-verbal responses to indicate comprehension of familiar text told or read with prompting and modeling (e.g., pictures, drama).
  • Objective 0.04: Copy simple sentences related to topic
  • Objective 0.06: Respond to picture books or stories read to them, using physical actions and other means of nonverbal communication (e.g., matching objects, pointing to an answer, drawing pictures).
  • Social Studies (2003)

    Grade 1

    • Goal 1: The learner will analyze how individuals, families, and groups are similar and different.
      • Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast similarities and differences among individuals and families.
    • Goal 4: The learner will explain different celebrated holidays and special days in communities.
      • Objective 4.03: Recognize and describe the historical events associated with national holidays.