There is no doubt that we all lead busy lives and the daily hustle and bustle make it difficult to stay connected with the ones we love. Special times like Family Day are opportunities to re-connect and re-evaluate those important relationships in our lives. As such, I will continue to focus on friendship and family with my students throughout the month of February.
Considering that many children no longer grow up in traditional nuclear families, the need for literature that is inclusive of varying experiences is of paramount importance in the classroom. I’d like to share a poem I wrote that can be used to springboard a discussion on what constitutes a family, moving away from a pre-defined understanding of what a family should look like and embracing what makes families unique.
She brings the sky within my reach
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
And forgets about my bedtime.
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!
He piggy-backs me to my room
And makes monsters disappear.
He plays with me even when he’s tired
And let’s me win at checkers.
My stepdad is my superhero – he is my family!
They take me places all the time
And buy me books and toys.
They care for me and teach me things
And help me with my homework.
My parents love me endlessly – they are my family!
My Family by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Below is a Family Day Resource package you can download for your personal use in the classroom. It contains the poem above and other fun activities for your students. The download link is found below the samples. Enjoy!
‘My family’ Poem, ‘my family is my treasure’ interactive poem,
‘love is…’ writing template
My Family is My Treasure by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Here is a fun activity I can’t wait to share with my class. Invite students to draw and colour a portrait of their family. Then have students cut the page along the faint lines to create puzzle pieces. Send the puzzle home in a zippy bag to share with families. It’s one I’m sure they’ll cherish.
‘we stick together’ Family puzzle
Students use the blank template rectangles to draw, colour and label their family members. They then cut and paste the images around their own on the family tree.
my family tree
To download this family activity pack for your personal use in the classroom,
click on the family icon below.
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Here is a collection of wonderful picture books to use in the classroom while discussing families. They highlight unique, close relationships in our lives, even ones with our pets.
In a kid-friendly, accessible way, this book explores the ways that people can choose to come together to make a family. It’s about sharing your home and sharing your heart to make a family that belongs together.
An extraordinarily different story by Robert Munsch is a gentle affirmation of the love a parent feels for their child–forever. Sheila McGraw’s soft and colorful pastels perfectly complement the sentiment of the book–one that will be read repeatedly for years.
A beautiful book that can be shared together with children and adults. With a sweet story of longtime companionship between elderly woman Rose and her stubborn yet loving dog John Brown and the sudden interuption of a black cat in their humdrum lives. For children, the story of a close-knit friendship between a lady and her dog that opens up to allow a new addition to share their house and lives. For adults, an underlying symbolic reference of the black cat representing death, Rose’s acceptance of it and John Brown’s refusal to allow it into their home/life.
I Will Hold You ’til You Sleep
by Linda Zuckerman, Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
Arthur A. Levine Books
Here is the rare book that not only expresses a parent’s love for their child, but offers a hope for what that love will become. It begins with a wish at bedtime, as parents hold their children tight and hope their love will cradle them, safe and sound. It continues through the day their children have grown up, proud and strong, and can pass that love on to someone else. This is a book that goes beyond a parent’s “I love you” to the generous wish that our children will make the world a better place.
Something From Nothing
by Phoebe Gilman
Joseph’s grandfather made him a beautiful blanket when he was a baby, but now it’s frazzled and worn, and Joseph’s mother says it is time to throw it out. Joseph doesn’t want to part with his special blanket, and he’s sure that his grandfather can fix it. Sure enough, Grandfather miraculously alters the blanket into useful items again and again. But when Joseph loses the final item, even Grandfather can’t make something from nothing. But maybe Joseph can?
Based on the Yiddish folktale “Joseph’s overcoat,” Phoebe Gilman’s gorgeous artwork charts the transformation of the blanket and the progress of Joseph’s family through the years, subtly teaching young readers about a lost way of life. Gilman’s modern adaptation and lively illustrations turn this favorite Jewish tale into a contemporary classic.
Highlighting the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes, this book celebrates diversity, explaining how every personal situation is different. It’s a good book for debunking the traditional storybook myth that happy families usually consist of mother, father and two children. It highlights how different humans are in other ways too, from the hobbies they choose, through to the way they think and what they choose to cook and eat.
The key theme running through the book is that every family is different, and that’s OK. It shows traditional mother/father families alongside blended/unconventional ones (such as two-father or two-mother households). It also shows adopted children with their families, and children being cared for by grandparents. The book covers a wide spectrum of different lifestyles and choices families make: how they take holidays and celebrate together, who goes out to work and who stays at home, who does the cooking and how they dress, spend their leisure time, and get along with each other.
“Mama’s face is chestnut brown . . . Papa’s face turns pink in the sun . . . My face? I look like both of them. A little dark, a little light. Mama and Papa say, ‘Just right!'” This simple story celebrates how the differences between one mother and father blend to make the perfect combination in their daughter.
This story of a woman who travels to China to adopt a baby girl, based on the author’s own experiences, is a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the home. Full color.
The Family Book
by Todd Parr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.
Parr’s message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in a playful way. With his trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families. Perfect for young children just beginning to read, The Family Book is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, promote character growth, and strengthen family relationships.
My Fairy Stepmother
by Marni Prince & Jason Prince
My Fairy Stepmother turns the Cinderella myth on it’s head, with a caring stepmother who helps her step-daughter find strength and confidence that she never knew she had.
Living in two households isn’t always easy for step children, and the book acknowledges this gently. Sometimes a caring stepparent is exactly what’s needed to help smooth things over – and a little fairy dust never hurt either! With its beautiful illustrations lovingly hand-crafted by Suzi Tegelaar, My Fairy Stepmother is sure to please children of any family.
In Our Mothers’ House
by Patricia Polacco
Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be. Here is a true Polacco story of a family, living by their own rules, and the strength they gain by the love they feel.
For young children who live in two homes, this bright, simple story with oversized flaps reassures young readers that there is love in each one.
Her parents don’t live together anymore, so sometimes the child in this book lives with her mom and cat, and sometimes with Dad. Her bedroom looks a little different in each house, and she keeps some toys in one place and some in another. But her favorite toys she takes with her wherever she goes. In an inviting lift-the-flap format saturated with colorful illustrations, Melanie Walsh visits the changes in routine that are familiar to many children whose parents live apart, but whose love and involvement remain as constant as ever.
Family is important, but who’s in a family? Why, the people who love you the most!This equal opportunity, open-minded picture book has no preconceptions about what makes a family a family. There’s even equal time given to some of children’s favorite animal families. With warm and inviting jewel-tone illustrations, this is a great book for that long talk with a little person on your lap.
Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers
by Kelly Bennett, Paul Meisel (Illustrator)
Dad and stepdad have one important thing in common in a blended-family scenario many readers will happily recognize. I have two fathers. I call this one Dad, and this one Pop.
Dad is tall and wears suits. Pop is bald and wears boots. Dad’s into gadgets and Pop’s into plants; one paints on easels, the other on walls; and they certainly don’t share the same taste in music! In this funny, affectionate ode to fathers and stepfathers, a young girl explains that while Dad and Pop may seem completely different, in one crucial way they’re exactly the same — they both love her.
In China, the moon shines on four baby girls, fast asleep in an orphanage. Far away in North America, the sun rises over four homes as the people who live there get ready to start a long, exciting journey. This lovely story of people who travel to China to be united with their daughters describes the adoption process step by step and the anxiety, suspense, and delight of becoming a family. Told with tenderness and humor, and enlivened by joyous illustrations, The White Swan Express will go straight to readers’ hearts. Afterword.
by Claire Masurel, Kady MacDonald Denton (Illustrator)
At Mommy’s house, Alex has a soft chair. At Daddy’s house, Alex has a rocking chair. In each home, Alex also has a special bedroom and lots of friends to play with. But whether Alex is with Mommy or with Daddy, one thing always stays the same – Alex is loved. The gently reassuring text focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. TWO HOMES will help children – and parents – embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.
Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale
by Karen Katz
Henry Holt and Co.
“Your baby has been born! She is wonderful. Come quickly and get her.”
This is a magical, reassuring story of one adoptive family’s beginnings, told in words and pictures that are just right for the youngest child–an ideal story to share with families everywhere. A long-awaited baby is born, and the adoptive parents who have been dreaming of her fly far, far away to bring her home.
“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
– Frederick Buechner
Words on a Limb wishes our family, friends and readers a very warm, happy and connected Family Day, today and all year through.