Discussion and Teaching Guide

That's a Family!

That's a Family!

That's a Family! is an entertaining documentary that breaks new ground in helping children in grades K-8 understand the different shapes families take today. Part of The Respect for All Project.

Guide | Alignment with State Standards

That’s a Family! Discussion and Teaching Guide

Extensive selection of pre- and post-viewing activities designed to engage children in discussing issues from the film. Contains a list of supplemental resources organized by grade and family type. Resources for teachers and parents also included. The guide is 60 pages.


  • Message From the Producers
  • How to use the Video and Guide
  • That’s a Family! as Window and Mirror
  • Questions Educators or Parents may ask
  • Sample Letter Home (English) (pdf)
  • Sample Letter Home (Spanish) (pdf)
  • Handout—What Does Family Mean? (pdf)
  • Sample Section—Mixed Families (pdf)
  • Sample Bibliography—Suggested Books About Families in General
  • Transcript of the Film (English) (pdf)
  • Use our Free Flyer Template to Organize Your Own Screening (pdf)
  • A Message From the Producers

    We’re very excited to introduce you to That’s a Family!

    This is our first film for children in The Respect for All Project, a collection of resources we are producing to help communities promote diversity. Our goal with That’s a Family! and the other films in the series to create kid-friendly, age-appropriate media resources that teachers, parents and service providers can use to help children understand and respect differences of all kinds.

    That’s a Family! is the first film to be made for children that recognizes the wide range of family structures that form the fabric of our communities today. With more attention focused on creating safe schools, there is a growing consensus that we have to do more to help kids become more comfortable with diversity. Helping children understand family diversity is a great place to start.

    Family is the first point of reference for children as they begin to understand themselves and the world around them. If children can name and understand differences among families, hopefully this will help lay a foundation for them to understand and respect other kinds of differences as well.

    The children you share this film with will probably be tickled by the dragons at the Chinese New Year parade, the gutter ball in the bowling alley, or the kids singing “cha cha cha” at a birthday party. While they’re entertained, though, they’ll be absorbing a powerful message about what’s universal to all families, and about how to treat children whose families may be different than their own.

    That’s a Family! will also be very affirming to children growing up in a family structure that looks “different” in any way from the traditional nuclear family. In many communities, “different” families actually are the majority! In fact, only 28 percent of homes today consist of a married husband and wife who are raising their biological children.

    We’ve found that children respond very well to other kids speaking directly from their hearts. So, as you’ll see when you watch That’s a Family!, we decided to let the children in the film speak for themselves. (It was pretty amusing to watch the parents and guardians step aside and let their kids do the talking!) We’re grateful to the scores of community groups, service agencies, schools and religious congregations that helped us meet the 50 extraordinary families in the film.

    We are very eager to hear about your experiences using That’s a Family! Please drop us a line and let us know how you are using your video copy and what the response is. And thank you—for joining in the effort to help prevent prejudice before it starts and for encouraging children to learn respect for all.

    How to Use the Video and Guide

    Understand the video’s objectives

    This guide is written from the assumption that the person using the video and guide is a teacher working with students in an elementary school setting. That’s a Family! can also be extremely useful in counseling or social service agencies, for parents to watch with their own children, and in religious congregations. It may be used by students in middle or high school, as well as at the university or college level, if students are given the context that the video was crafted with younger students in mind. Additionally, That’s a Family! is an excellent tool for in-service professional development on diversity issues for educators and service providers. We trust that presenters who use That’s a Family! will adapt the information in this guide so that it is appropriate for their particular audience.

    While That’s a Family! can stand on its own as a teaching tool, we hope it will be used in your curriculum as part of a larger unit of study on families and family diversity. Teachers of young children might want to show the video in short segments. For grades 3–5, we suggest showing the video in its entirety (35 minutes), and then showing each section again individually as the class works on associated exercises. The video may also be shown again at the end of each unit. Teachers will want to keep in mind student attention spans and available time.

    As the classroom teacher, you are the most important component of this unit. You know your students and their stories, and can be most sensitive to their needs. This guide offers a menu of ideas, questions, activities, books, and other resources that can help you facilitate a unit on family diversity.

    Reading the entire guide before beginning the unit will allow you to select appropriate books and activities, and to make modifications that will best suit the needs of your class. Just as a half-hour video cannot cover all family variations, no guide can cover all possible family situations and resources. We’ve collected a variety of supporting materials, which are listed at the back of this guide in the bibliography. We suggest you use it as a starting point to choose age-appropriate books and activities that will reflect your students’ family structures as well as educate them about families that are different from theirs.

    Each section of this guide includes a recap of the dialogue in the video from the featured families, photos and names of featured children, a synopsis of the story, key vocabulary words, and suggested questions and classroom activities. A list of supplemental resources for children and adults can be found at the back of the guide.

    Sample Bibliography Page—Suggested Books About Families in General

    Grades K-2

    Grades 3-6

    Alignment With State Standards

    The Respect For All Project curriculum is designed to meet state educational standards while also developing empathy, building respect, and promoting ally behavior. Our creative lessons can help educators teach math, reading, literature, writing, arts, and social studies while also ensuring a safe and welcoming environment.

    Below you can find general information about how our curriculum aligns with standards for several states. We also offer a more detailed alignment for California that illustrates how specific lessons align with statewide Health and English Language Arts standards.