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Build a Historical Family Tree

Students will create a mock family tree composed of historical figures. They will use factual information about the "family members" they chose to explain why they included specific people in their family trees.

PROCESS:

  1. Inform students that they will each create a mock family tree in which all of their relatives are important people in history. Their genealogy must at least go back to their grandparents' generation on both sides of the family. 
  2. Tell students they can choose anyone they want, but there must be a reason. 
  3. Have students create a preliminary list of people they might want to include. Then give them time to conduct research. If they come across someone they find to be more interesting, encourage them to revise their ideas.
  4. Instruct students to compile their research in the form of a family tree. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Have students present their genealogy to the class or in small groups. Instruct them to explain why they chose at least one of the historical figures on their family trees. 

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:     

Grades 3-4:
Review the concept of a family tree with the class. Have each student draw a family tree diagram with three generations on both sides of the family. Tell students to write their own names at the bottom of their trees. As a class, brainstorm a list of historical figures that students could include. Discuss reasons why each person would be an interesting choice. Then give students time to conduct research and compile their trees. Have them explain why they chose one of the historical figures. 

Grades 5-6:
Have each student draw a family tree diagram with three generations on both sides of the family. Tell students to write their own names at the bottom of their trees. As a class, brainstorm a list of historical figures that students could include. Discuss reasons why each person would be an interesting choice. Then give students time to conduct research and compile their trees. Have them explain why they chose the historical figures representing their parents.

Grades 7-8:
Have each student draw a family tree with four generations on both sides of the family. Remind them to write their own names at the bottom of the tree. Give students time to conduct research and compile their trees. Have them write and present a short paragraph explaining why they chose the historical figures representing their parents and one other family member.

Grades 9-10:
Have each student draw a family tree with four generations on both sides of the family. Then give students time to conduct research and compile their trees. Have them write and present a short paragraph explaining why they chose the historical figures representing each family member. As students present, challenge classmates to identify any crossovers and determine how that would make the students involved related to each other.