Ah November – Leaves are changing, days are cooler and you can just smell the apple pie baking and the turkey roasting.

AND Family.

When I think of November, I think of family. It’s the true beginning of the holiday season and no matter what comes with it, presents, food, travel, stress… the element of family is certainly there.

Now, for some of you that might mean headaches and for others it will mean a time to make more memories.  (Or maybe a little of both!)

However, November presents us with a wonderful opportunity to honor students’ families no matter what kind they come from.

Over the years, I have done November projects large and small to help students to connect a little more with their families.

But the issue sometimes seems to be that not every student has the same experience with family. There are broken families everywhere and what’s more, is that some students don’t even have a family.

A teacher may think that doing any type of assignment centered around family is just asking for trouble, but I disagree.

In fact, after even combating my own doubts about giving my favorite family project, the Family Scrapbook Project, I pushed through and made sure that my presentation of the information still allowed students to complete the project with success and pride.

Even students that had troubled home lives and “nothing valuable to share” were able to put together something that made them proud.

Let me give you some examples of the extremes I have seen.

One student came in with a rolled up pedigree of her family dating back to the Mayflower. Also included were hand-written recipe cards, black and white pictures of weddings and even copies of immigration papers of a great-grandparent who came to the US from Italy.

Another student, the same year, brought in plastic jewelry, a couple of bent photos and an old Atari gaming cartridge his mother had found somewhere.

Every child is different, unique and full of wonderful things to share. The first student’s collection was impressive. Yes. But so was the other’s. The plastic jewelry was something special from the student’s early childhood, the bent photos brought a smile to the student’s face and the Atari cartridge fascinated the student’s classmates.

A project like this celebrates everyone’s individuality while also illustrating how alike we are. To be honest, it’s a wonderful lesson in social-awareness.

Every student has stories to discover and share about what makes them them. So, give them the opportunity to share a little bit about themselves and feel proud of who they are and where they come from.

Family, no matter how untraditional or imperfect, impact who you are and make you unique!


Are you interested in learning more about the Family Scrapbook Project?


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