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Create a Family Tree: Develop a Historical Identity and Have Fun Doing It!

Your kids are off to another day at school. You smile as you watch their eager (or maybe not so eager) little faces preparing for a new day of lessons. But it’s not just math or English they’ll be learning. Your kids are going to face a lot of social and cultural challenges, as well, as they meet classmates and teachers from all different backgrounds.

In order to help your kids understand these differences, it’s important to develop a strong sense of your own family individuality. This can also aid your kids’ ability to overcome and understand cultural differences through elementary school and beyond.

But how do you establish this family individuality and cultural identity? One fun and creative way is to make a family tree. Expanding your kids’ knowledge of their personal ancestry helps them form strong cultural connections, recognize the importance of family, and can make them curious about other traditions and backgrounds, too. Celebrating where they come from will help them accept differences within themselves at a young age and encourage a better understanding of ethnic diversity as they get older.

Where do I begin?

-Start by sitting down with your kids and writing down the names and birthdays of their immediate family, like siblings and parents or guardians.

-Then, have your children list off their aunts and uncles. You will most likely need to help them with some of their names and birthdays.

Tip: You can use index cards or individual pieces of paper to separate aunts and uncles on different sides of the family.

- Work your way up to grandparents, and branch out to cousins, great-grandparents, and great-aunts and -uncles. This will spark conversation about where your family came from. It will be a great time to engage in conversation about family origins and how your family came to be where they are today!

Now for the really fun part!

-Once you’ve listed all your family members, write their names and birthdays on individual small pieces of paper. You can be really creative and cut them out into different shapes, like leaves or little faces with a space for a picture.

-Make a background poster, and attach the individual family members in an orderly fashion. You and your kids can have a lot of fun decorating the poster. For instance, you can draw a big tree or even the flag of the country your ancestors came from!

A strong sense of family, tradition, and culture is important in the developing identities of young children, especially in today’s societal melting pot. A family tree will create a cultural awareness and develop creativity… plus, it’ll be great to show off when your relatives come over for dinner!

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