1st Grade New York

Family Stories

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of their families as a way to begin understanding the concepts of past and present. By answering the compelling question “What do family stories tell us about the past?” students learn about change over time. Through the use of family artifacts (e.g., photographs, marriage licenses, family trees, keepsakes), students learn that such items can reveal information about how life in the past differs from life in the present and how their families have changed over time.


Compelling Question:

What Do Family Stories Tell Us about the Past?

Staging the Question:

Tell a story to a partner and then list and categorize all the stories as a class.

Supporting Question Do all families have stories?

Formative Task Tell a family story and draw a picture representing the story.

Sources Source A: Teacher-told family story
Source B: StoryCorps story recordings


Supporting Question What artifacts could someone use to tell a family story?

Formative Task Brainstorm a class list of artifacts that would help tell a story about a family.

Sources Source A: Family tree chart
Source B: Image bank: Family artifacts


Supporting Question How do families change over time?

Formative Task List three ways that families change over time. Draw a then-and-now picture to illustrate one of the ways.

Sources Source A: Teacher-presented artifact
Source B: Image bank: Photos featuring then-and-now comparisons

Summative Performance Task

Argument: What do family stories tell us about the past? Construct an argument, expressed in written or oral form and supported with evidence, that answers the question about why families are a useful way to understand the past.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Accomplished through Formative Tasks 1 and 2
Assess: Accomplished through Formative Task 3
Act: Have students write a story after talking with an older family member. Bind all the students’ stories together into a book titled Our Family Stories, which can be shared with other first-grade classes.