My Roots- Family History Project

Remember doing your family tree in school? Or even doing your child’s family tree project for them… I mean with them?

English: Ahnenblatt Family Tree Example
English: Ahnenblatt Family Tree Example (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a fourth grade teacher, U.S. Geography was the overall concept of our Social Studies Curriculum.  We studied the regions, their history and characteristics.  A favorite of mine was always studying the Northeast and the causes and effects of immigration into the country.  After doing a case study of Ellis Island, I would assign students a family history project.  The intention was for students to individualize the cause and effect of immigration, migration, and history events in their own lives.  You know, “My great- grandpa came from Germany!”

An option I always gave was the generic family tree.  While students produced many creative tree visuals, I found they didn’t really learn much about where they’re ancestors are from or unique stories that define their family history.  It was more of a “Let’s get this done,” with mom and dad.

So here is a NEW Spin on that FAMILY TREE!  

Help your students, or even your own child, DIG DEEP into their own ROOTS.

My Roots Family History Project.

3 Steps: (I have included the organizers for you to use in your classroom, or with your own child).

1. Students choose 2 family members to interview, and conduct the interviews. Interview QuestionnaireFamilyRootsQuestionnaire

2. They compare, consolidate and organize their information looking for themes, similarities and differences.

Roots OrganizerMyFamilyRootsOrganizer

3. Students create a poem to describe their own family history.

Poem TemplateMyRootsPoemTemplate

I did this with my boys for their Great Grandpas and my Grandpa, Bob.  Doing these interviews myself, I learned things I never knew about mine and my husband’s family.  Like how my Grandpa-In-Law went to a segregated school, served in a segregated unit in the Army, and had to enter stores from the back.  Or how my own Grandpa liked to fish, was a boy scout, and took over his parents family business.  I think students would get a more valuable and authentic experience from doing this project. *I’d love to hear what your kids learn and create!!

I’m excited to give this gift!

Photo of my boys and their great grandpas
Photo of my boys and their great grandpas
Our roots are Black as oil and White as a hen’s egg.
Our roots are Quincy, Illinois and Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Germany and Africa.
They are The Army and The Navy Air Corps.
Quincy Senior High and Iowa State University.
Our roots are The Great Depression and World War II.  
Segregation of Color and Discrimination of Ability.
Our roots are The Electric Wheel and Knapheide Manufacturing. 
Lynn’s Poultry and Lynn’s Transportation.
Our roots are The Mississippi River and Eddyville Farm.
Fishing and Hunting.
Playing Cards and Tinkering with Toys.
They are Strict and Personable.
Tireless, Loyal, and Smart.
Our roots are Responsibility and Hard Work.
Our roots are Faith in God and Jesus.
In Family.
Our roots are Melvin Pearl and Robert Russell.
Our roots have grown US.
Anthony Ray and Marcus Stephen.


Resource: The last two years I did this project with my students, we did the I Am From Poem.  This was a great individualized reflection for the students, and I always loved to read them.

4 thoughts on “My Roots- Family History Project

  1. This is wonderful, Erica! I used to do a family stories project like this with my 3rd graders, and I loved the stories my children learned about their families. I love the poem form you used too!


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