Family Trees

by Deb on October 17, 2010

Family Trees

Welcome to the October Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is “Studies of Society and the Environment” which covers all the humanities, from history to finance, geography, politics and of course the environment. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on SOSE.


There’s a lot of overlap between SOSE and Science, in my original science degree one of my majors was Archaeology and in schools the science and SOSE departments negotiate very carefully over when and how they are doing things like volcanoes, earthquakes and ecology.  I could wax all philosophical here about the different approaches but that would get boring unless you happen to be in one of those fields.  Along with the archaeology I was studying palaeontology and evolutionary biology, so I thought this would be a good chance to explore some of the branches of science that don’t fit neatly into the normal perception of ‘the scientific method,’ especially the historical sciences.

One thing all these areas have in common is looking for similarities and relationships, especially over time.  In biology and palaeontology you are studying the broadest scale – evolution and the tree of life itself.  In something like archaeology or anthropology you might be looking for relationships between groups of people, or how cultures have evolved and influenced each other.  Politics tries to predict how groups interact and how they will behave, and as you move into subjects like history you may be investigating individual family trees.  Seeing it’s good to start with something kids are already familiar with, family trees it is.

First we had a ball going through all the photos and choosing ones of their immediate family to print, then the big girl carefully cut them all out.  We spent some some comparing and sorting them:


Co-incidentally, all the photos easily went into pairs.  Next we talked about ways the pairs could go together in larger groups, and they put together their own sister pair with their brothers.  Starting with them, we moved the pairs around until they were near the other pairs they had ties to.


And the final step is to draw the lines and names in.  The big girl actually handled a lot of the writing herself, while the little one enthusiastically drew.

Family tree

After that we added the rest of their close relatives to show how they fitted into our family, and the little one got her moment when she glued it all together.

So there you have a simple activity that we are all fascinated by, but it practices the principles of comparing, sorting, and defining relationships that are used in so many different fields. This post is part of the Play Academy linkup at the Nurture Store.


Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. Teach/Learn

Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on “Studies of Society and the Environment.”

  • The Planning Queen has pulled together some of the many great sources that you can use to keep kids up to date with world news.
  • SMMART Ideas is writing about how your 2 year old isn’t too young to learn the names and locations of the state she lives in and those around her…or even countries of the world!
  • For Adventures with Kids, photos can provide a great starting point for telling or discovering history, from family history to world history.  Find out some questions to ask about the photos to get you started and where you can find historical images.
  • Narelle at A Bunch of Keys has been having lots of fun learning all about volcanoes and how they work.
  • Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey knows that kids are fascinated with igloos – how they are built and why they don’t melt.  We investigate why!
  • Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has a fun treat to celebrate the end of a geography unit on land and water forms.
  • At Homeage, almost every day they get another piece of the world delivered to their door, helping them learn about where and how other people live.
  • Deb’s girls at Science@home have been building their family tree and talking about all their relationships.

Thanks for visiting our carnival, have fun reading all the posts.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Hear Mum Roar October 17, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Argh! I missed this carny again, I’m so sorry! But I do love activity, it’s so simple, and yet teaches them so much. As you’ve said, the classification and sorting side of things, but also that sense of where we belong, come from, fit in, etc. So valuable to a child.


Hear Mum Roar October 17, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Oops! Should’ve said, I do love THIS activity. lol


Lauren @ Hobo Mama October 18, 2010 at 3:13 am

What a great project! I have to say, I love all the drawing. 🙂
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Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now October 18, 2010 at 3:59 am

I LOVE your project! The photos, writing, and drawing make an awesome keepsake, and the whole project has a lot of educational value as well. Those are the types of projects I tend to save forever.
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Catherine October 18, 2010 at 8:36 am

Great project! I think my son would love to try this, he is very interested in how family members are related lately – and as my husband has a big family it is quite confusing.
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PlanningQueen October 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

We have drawn family trees before, but for some reason I have never thought about using photos. Super idea Deb!
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Monique October 18, 2010 at 7:41 pm

What an amazing project, I just love it. I think my boys would love doing this too, would be great to prepare to have ready to do on a rainy day!
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amandab October 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Big Girl did a wonderful job with this, a big pat on the back for her 😀

This activity opens up a whole heap of other, more science related questions. If I did it with my family we’d look at why all 5 kids in my family have blue eyes, and exactly which side gave us our big noses! LOL The last one is a hard call, so we might have to go by shape 🙂

Also, if it was possible to use pictures of all memebers at a similar age then you could look at history in relation to fashion and hair styles.

So many more possibilities too, but these were the first things I thought of as I read your post 🙂


And Miles To Go... October 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

what a wonderful project. You have such great ideas!
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cathy@nurturestore October 23, 2010 at 7:13 pm

My two often ask questions about who ‘belongs’ to whom in our family (especially as we have step-siblings). This is such a good visual project to help them understand. We have some really old photos from a few generations back too which of course look so different to today. Thanks for sharing this idea with us at the Play Academy.


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