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

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  • Family traditions: This lesson is a follow-up to the lesson “Who's Your Mama? A Family Who's Who” and is mainly based on The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant; therefore, family structure including titles or roles is assumed to be prior knowledge for this lesson.
  • Writing and English as a Second Language: Strategies for helping English Language Learners throughout the writing process.
  • First Americans of North Carolina and the United States: This lesson will use shared reading, center time, hands-on projects, and journal writing to help learners discover facts about first Americans, particularly those in the region that is today North Carolina, while at the same time developing their English language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify members of immediate and extended family.
  • recognize roles of family members.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


Technology resources

  • Tape players and headphones (small group or individual)
  • Pre-recorded/teacher-recorded tapes of “The Relatives Came”
  • Optional: use overhead transparency or use computer with a SmartTV or LCD projector


Teacher shares personal family photos telling who each family member is.

Students identify the different family members (using the critical vocabulary) through teacher-guided brainstorming. Suggested technology resources for this activity would be to use “Thinking Maps,” “Inspiration,” “Kidspiration,” or any other software your school may have; otherwise, make or use the attached bubble map with “Family Members” as the center bubble. Add and label circles around the center bubble with one circle for each family member title. (Additions to bubble map could be made as lesson progresses.)


Teacher (and/or students) make a word wall of family terms/vocabulary using terms that were introduced during pre-activity. (Word wall could be a chart, listed on the board, pocket chart, bulletin board, poster, etc. and located in any available/appropriate spot in your classroom. Terms may be typed and printed from a computer or written on sentence strips.)

  1. Teacher first reads aloud the book The Relatives Came modeling reading with expression, fluency, and limited teacher “think-alouds” (teacher comments/observations) so that students just get to enjoy the story with the fewest interruptions possible.
  2. Teacher reads The Relatives Came again asking “who, what, when, where, and why” questions, encouraging students’ input and discussion. Optional: Students listen to this story on tape in small groups or individually either as a center or as part of student reading time.
  3. Divide students into heterogeneous groups (various abilities, ethnicities, and genders). Distribute a copy to each group of the Label the Family activity. Children should work cooperatively to label the family members using the word wall or other resources available. If the URL is no longer available you will need to find or draw a core/group picture of a daddy, mother holding a baby, boy, and girl and then slightly away from that group draw an elderly gentleman (grandfather) and elderly lady (grandmother).
  4. The teacher will need to determine how much time he/she wants to allot for children to complete or almost complete the activity. Once time has elapsed, go over the labels as a large group/whole class using the overhead or any other large display. Allow students to complete diagram.
  5. Role-play: With student assistance, the teacher will brainstorm, list, and discuss with whole class different activities associated with each family member’s role. Teacher selects student volunteers to act out different family roles. Use brainstormed list for roles to act out.


Students draw a picture of own family in action (performing appropriate roles)and label each member.

Supplemental information

To creatively display students work samples, create a class quilt using ideas from the book “Month-by-Month Quilt and Learn Activities, published by Scholastic (2002), which also lists teacher resources in the back on page 44.


Corresponding pictures should be included with each term on the word wall. Include terms in native languages if available.

  1. Teacher reads The Relatives Came again asking “who, what, when, where, and why” questions, encouraging students’ input and discussion and allowing ELL’s to point to appropriate words on wall for non-verbal responses.
  2. Students listen to this story on tape in small groups or individually either as a center or as part of student reading time.
  3. Novice Low students need to be in groups with higher ability students. Students should be given only the words to be used to complete the activity at this time.
  4. Role-play: Continue role-playing in small heterogeneous groups to reinforce and encourage student participation and learning.

Additional activity for phonemic awareness can be found in “Winter: Phonemic Awareness Songs & Rhymes--Fun Lyrics Sung to Familiar Tunes” Jordano and Callella, 1998, Creative Teaching Press, Inc., page 22.

Alternative assessments

Assisted by student of higher ability the novice low students draw a picture of own family in action (performing appropriate roles)and label each member. To extend this activity allow use of cultural titles and even native language in addition to English.

Critical vocabulary

relatives, family, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, baby, grandmother (and other names for grandmother), grandfather (and other names for grandfather), aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, supplemental vocabulary: siblings (introduced)


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.

There is also a follow-up lesson plan entitled Traditions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 1
          • 1.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
        • Kindergarten
          • K.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 2: The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.06: Self-monitor comprehension by using one or two strategies (questions, retelling, summarizing).
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.02: Recognize and relate similar vocabulary use and concepts across experiences with texts.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 1

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.03: Copy words posted and commonly used in the classroom (e.g., environmental print and prewriting strategies).
    • Objective 0.04: Listen to oral presentations, stories, and/or familiar texts told or read to them and respond using physical actions or other means of non-verbal communication with modeling and prompting.
    • Objective 0.05: Repeat modeled language spoken in a slow distinct speed
    • 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 1.01: Describe the roles of individuals in the family.