Discussion and Teaching Guide
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.
EXCERPTS FROM THE GUIDE
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
- To promote greater understanding of and respect for differences
- To serve as a tool for education about family diversity
- To reflect a more accurate and balanced picture of what families look like than is often presented in classroom curricula
- To ensure that every student—regardless of what kind of family to which he or she belongs—is safe, respected and able to receive an education free from prejudice
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
- Celebrating Families, by Rosemarie Hausherr (Scholastic, 1997). No two family structures are alike in this engaging portrait of 14 American families. No single family is presented as the norm here, and all are celebrated for their strength and diversity.
- Families, by Meredith Tax and Marilyn Hafner (Oxford Press, 1992). Six-year-old Angie tells everything she knows about families. Realities such as divorce, stepfamilies, adoption, single-parenting, and gay and lesbian parenting are explored through her curious, affectionate and nonjudgmental eyes. Also in Spanish.
- Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment and Love, by Aylette Jenness with photographs by the author (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990). Seventeen young people describe a rich variety of families—all different in composition but all alike in loving and caring for their members.
- Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch (Firefly, 1996). This highly recommended book traces the circle of love from young mother with infant son to grown man with aged mother. A family favorite for all ages.
- I Got a Family, by Melrose Cooper, illustrations by Dale Gottlieb (Henry Holt & Company, 1993). In poetic form, this young child describes each member of his extended family (mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandmother, etc.) in terms of the loving experiences they share.
- Who’s in a Family?, by Robert Skutch, illustrations by Laura Nienhaus (Tricycle Press, 1998). Beautiful illustrations and text affirm the many ways humans and animals form families.
- The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage, 1984). Short, easy-to-read, poetic descriptions of daily life and family relationships bring the author’s family to life and inspire comparisons to one’s own family experience.
- Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1943). These stories of a Norwegian immigrant family adapting to American ways show values of love and trust.
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.