Looking at Our Classroom Ancestry

Teacher: Jennifer Fox
School: Arlington Heights Elementary
Grade: 3rd Grade
Lesson Plan Type: Focus In
Lesson 1
Unit Theme: African American History: Slavery & The Underground
Lesson Plan Topic: Is skin color really that important? We are all different!
Lesson 1: Looking at our classroom ancestry
Students will describe how significant people, events and developments have
shaped their own community and region; compare their community to other
communities in the region in other times and places; and use a variety of
resources to gather information about the past.
Human Systems
Construct maps and graphs that show aspects of human/environmental
Interaction in the local community, Indiana and communities within the region.
READING: Comprehension and Analysis of Nonfiction and Informational Text
Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. The selections
in the www.doe.in.gov/standards/readinglist.html illustrate the quality and
complexity of the materials to be read by students. At Grade 3, in addition to
regular classroom reading, students read a variety of nonfiction, such as
biographies, books in many subject areas, children's magazines and periodicals,
and reference and technical materials.
Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Nonfiction and Informational Text:
Ask questions and support answers by connecting prior knowledge with literal
information from the text.
Example: When reading informational materials about science topics or
social science subjects, compare what is read to background knowledge
about the subject.
WRITING: English Language Conventions
Students write using Standard English conventions appropriate to this grade level.
 Students will use prior knowledge to identify other countries and
 Students will interview family members to learn more about their family
 Students will share interesting facts about their family ancestry and
locate/mark their family history on a world map
 Who are Your Ancestors worksheet
 Classroom World Map
 Star stickers
This lesson will span 2 class periods, each about 30 minutes.
Primary Sources:
 All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
 Family Trees examples
Scholarly Knowledge:
Ancestry is a family’s background, or lineage. Most of us have more than one
lineage of ancestry. A family’s lineage can go back many generations.
Engage Student Interest:
The lesson will begin when I read the book, All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila
Hamanaka. Following the reading of the book, we will discuss the main idea of
the story of how the book celebrates the color of children, and their ethnic
diversity. We will further discuss what ethnic diversity is and how that may
determine our skin color.
Essential Question: What do you think your family’s ethnic diversity is?
Initial Example: I will explain that our ethnic diversity comes from our “ancestry”.
I will briefly explain my ancestry, with my background coming from Germany,
Ireland, and Canada. One side of my family is German and Irish, and the other
is French Canadian and Irish. I will also share how each of my family traveled
from their respective countries to live in the United States in the mid 1800s. I will
ask the question, “Could my ancestry determine the color of my skin?”
New Example: I will first ask what a family tree is, and how it will help to find our
ancestry. I will share a few famous Americans’ family trees. We will discuss the
importance of each person to American history, and then share what
observations are made from the family tree itself.
The students will be shown more about the ancestry of my family, using the Who
are your ancestors? worksheet. I will share my information as I model how to use
the worksheet. I will again share my ancestry marking the countries using star
stickers on our classroom world map, and I will also include facts about the
countries my family have come from. I will also share a bit of history, or stories, of
my ancestors as interesting facts. The students will then be assigned to find out
about their own ancestry by interviewing family members who may be able to
The students will be asked to share what they discovered about their own
ancestry from their interviews. Each student will be able to mark the countries of
their ancestors on our classroom map with star stickers. They will also share
interesting facts about their ancestry as well. Then, the kids will be asked, “Is it
the color of your skin that is most important, or the ancestry and your ethnic
diversity that makes you special?” We will share our opinions and generate a
classroom discussion which is most important to consider. Finally, I will ask the
class what is more important about slaves who had to work the fields so many
years ago…the color of their skin, or their ancestry and backgrounds? Did their
skin color really tell others that they were not important?
Cumulating Activity:
As each student shares their family’s ancestry, we will record each of the
countries their ancestors derive from. As we create a classroom list of countries
and tallies for the number of students who have ancestors in these countries, we
will create a classroom graph to show the representation of our ancestry for
these areas through a visual aide.
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