What is a Family?

Illustration Elements

Illustration Éléments


The Teacher’s Voice

After some deep thinking into what makes a family, students began to compare their families with families around the world. How are they the same and how are they different? We then asked our families to help us to learn more about where our families came from before we arrived in Canada. Here is our Learning Story.


Learning Story

What is a family?

  • Do all families look the same?
  • What do families need to be a family?
  • Can friends be in a family?
  • Do families need to live together in the same house?


Are there different types of families?We have decided to explore the question, “What is a family?” After talking about communities and thinking deeply about who makes up a community, how people treat each other in a community and what are important places in a community, we found that many of our ideas about families were the same as our ideas about a community. This led us to the question, “Are we a family in our classroom?”

One student called out, “We are a school family!” This was an interesting discovery and changed the direction of our thinking. First, the students thought that families had to live together in homes. But when one student shared a personal story about her dad living in another country, we decided that families don’t have to all live in the same house. So, we created a list of criteria to decide what is a family.


What is a family?The criteria is…

  • Families make smart choices.
  • Families kiss each other.
  • Families are kind to each other.
  • Families are like a community.
  • Families play games together.
  • Families spend time together.
  • Families support each other.

All these ideas came before the final idea for our criteria…love. We decided that families must love each other but since we can have school families, work families and friend families, we added love or really like each other.


Who is in a family?Only after these two lists were complete did anyone think about specific people. being in a community. Immediately, students named, mom and dad and brother and sister but adding more distant family members took a little more thought. Finally, we were happy with our lists.

We ended our discussion with a conversation about how our families are the same and how are they different from our friends and neighbours families. This led us to think about our “world family” from our list. How are families the same or different around the world? What do families eat? What do families wear? Where do families live? How do children in families go to school? Does everyone go to school?


Sample Student Work and Video Reflections

Students reflected on their own families through artwork and video interviews.


I can use evidence to make simple judgments.

I can ask questions, make predictions, and use my senses to gather information. I can explore with a purpose in mind and use what I learn. I can tell or show something about my thinking. I can contribute to and use simple criteria. I can find some evidence and make judgments. I can reflect on my work and experiences and tell others something I learned.


I am aware of different aspects of myself. I can identity people, places, and things that are important to me.

With some help, I can identify some of my attributes. I can identify objects or images that represent things that are important to me, and explain what I like and dislike. I can describe my family, home, and/or community (people and/or place).


In familiar settings, I communicate with peers and adults.

I talk and listen to people I know. I can communicate for a purpose. I can understand and share basic information about topics that are important to me, and answer simple, direct questions about my activities and experiences.