written by: Tania Cowling
• edited by: Jonathan Wylie
• updated: 9/22/2012
During circle time, children interact with the teacher and other children about certain topics and themes. This article has some great circle time ideas on families. Use conversation, books, and activities to increase interest and learning.
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Learning About Families
Spend some time talking about moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and other family members. Encourage children to think about who makes up their families. Here are some questions to incorporate in your circle time discussion:
Are all families the same?
Where do families live?
Do all families live in houses?
What about apartments where other families live together?
When you think about the word family, does this also mean your pets?
Can some people be part of your family and still not live at your house?
Today the word "family" has many meanings and make-ups that go beyond the traditional formula of mother/father/children. There are divorced families, interracial, adopted children, blended families, and only children without siblings. For this reason we need to be sensitive to the many diverse family meanings when we discuss families in the school setting.
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Family Theme Activities
Show and Tell About Families
Have each child bring in a picture of his/her family. Invite the children to share their photos with the group and discuss who is in the family photo and what they are doing.
What Do Families Do Together?
Find magazine pictures that show people of all ages doing activities, such as camping, playing sports, walking together, reading, having a picnic, and so on. During circle time present these pictures and ask the children to raise hands if they see an activity that they would like to do with their family.
Dramatic Play About Families
Place playhouses and toy people in the center of your circle. Invite the children to use these props to act out activities that families do together. You might join into the play and pretend to be a child, letting the children pretend to be the grownups.
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Music and Prose About Families
If you peek into my room at night, (tiptoe as if you are peeking)
My family you will see, (nod head)
They kiss my face and tuck me in tight (kiss into the air)
Why? Because they love me! (hug yourself)
Here is My Family (Tune: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")
Grandma, Mom, and Dad,
I love them all, you see,
Each and every one of them,
They are my family.
Let the children pick four family members to sing about. Substitute their names for the three members in the first line.
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Books About Families
Books can help children to learn more about all kinds of families. As you read, help the children to observe family interactions and notice family themes.
Adopted by Judith Greenberg & Helen Carey is a book with great photos that teaches each child is special.
Trevor's Story: Growing Up Biracial is a story about everyday life in a racially mixed family.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel - is a story about young Alex who spends time with both parents who are divorced.
Grandmother by Jeannie Baker - This story describes a child's day with her old grandmother at her old house.
Our Family Vacation by Denise Burt is a story about Luis and his family as they take a two-week summer vacation at the beach.
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Every child needs a family as a source of love, nurturing, and acceptance. Learning about the nature of families, what they are and how they function, can increase a child's self-confidence and sense of self-worth.