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How to Make a Family Tree for the 5th Grade

by Ashley Kurz

In 5th grade, students begin to learn about the nuts and bolts of society and how they relate to current and past events. An important part of history and culture is the structure of the family. Making a family tree is an organized way for a child to explore and document his family's history. Genealogists use family trees called genograms to make detailed maps of family histories. The same process can be simplified and used to make family trees at a 5th grader's comprehension level.

Research your family history by talking with relatives. Start with your parents, asking them to name relatives and how they relate as far back as they know of on both their mother's and father's sides. Talk to your grandparents as well, and great grandparents if you have them, as they will have even more information to give you.

Write out your notes in a notebook with a pen. Keep the information about your mother's family separate from your father's family to avoid confusion later on. Make notes about birth dates, death dates and how people are related to each other every time you add a new person.

Draw a rough draft of the family tree in your notebook. To do this, draw a 1/2-inch circle at the bottom of the page and write your name in it. Draw a circle for each of your siblings next to yours and write one of their names in each one. Draw short lines between each circle, connecting them.

Draw two more 1/2-inch circles next to each other above yours and those you drew for your siblings. Write your mother's name in one and your father's in the other. Connect the two circles with a line between them. Draw a line from the connecting middle line to the line between you and your siblings. This diagram is your nuclear, or immediate, family.

Draw circles for each of your aunts and uncles on your father's side next to his circle. Draw circles for your mother's siblings the same way.

Draw two circles above each of your parents and write the names of your grandparents in the circles. Connect your grandmother and grandfather on each side to each other with a line and connect lines to each of their children, including your parents.

Continue this process of adding parents and children in each generation, going as far back as you can. If the page gets too messy with all the names, start again -- on a larger paper, if needed -- and allow for more space for names where you know you'll need it.

Transfer the information from your draft to a poster board, but leave out the circles. Instead, write the names of all the people, dates of birth and date of death if applicable. Write very clearly. Connect the lines the same way you did on your draft.

Items you will need
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Poster board
  • Permanent marker

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