By Kelli Drummer-Avendano
Families come in all shapes and sizes. This can be a confusing concept for some children, while others are perfectly comfortable discussing family diversity. In the classroom, you can encourage students to talk openly about families by recognizing that they all deserve to be celebrated!
- Create a Family Portrait Wall
Ask students to either draw or bring in a photo of their families. Students can create a simple, paper frame to put around their pictures and then hang them on a classroom wall dedicated to the portraits. If students feel comfortable, have them explain and describe who’s in their picture. Once the portraits are up, begin a class discussion about the different wonderful forms families can take, while also making sure to point out the similarities all families share.
- Begin a Book Club
Every week for a month, read a book as a class that’s centered around families. A wonderful resource is the Papá y mamá Library from Vista and Santillana, available at dostomatillos.com. Both the K-2 and the 3-5 libraries include five award-winning titles students will enjoy reading and discussing. You can have students vote as a class on which book to read each week and then develop discussion questions or use these free anchor charts and graphic organizers and activities to go along with the book.
- Have a Family Movie Night
There are plenty of movies that are entertaining and appropriate for the whole family. If possible, celebrate family night once or twice a year by inviting students and their families to a movie night. You could even choose a book to go along with the theme to read aloud before showing the movie. For example, two books from Papá y mamá Library, El mejor es mi papá by Georgina Lázaro León and ¡Lorenza, bájate del perro! by Toño Malpica, would pair perfectly with a show highlighting the importance of dads and their relationships with their children.
- Make a Heritage Map
Another inclusive, family-oriented activity revolves around students’ heritage. You can simply hang a world map on the wall and then have students put push pins in the countries or regions pertaining to their family’s heritage. This could mean the place where they or their parents were born, but it might also refer to family history dating farther back. Encourage students to include different regions of the U.S. as well as those abroad. The map could spark a discussion about moving closer to or farther away from family and how that affects their lives. A helpful book to go along with this activity is Las cortinas rojas by Argentinian author Margarita Mainé from the 3-5 Library.