families,  family,  social emotional,  social studies,  Thanksgiving

Family Vocabulary

One topic that I always make sure to cover near Thanksgiving is family. I like to start by introducing some basic vocabulary so that children have a foundation and are able to use the correct words as they describe their own families.  Making sure that children understand basic terms can help you navigate conversations about whether a child’s pet dog can also be his brother.  It can also help you explain that one child might call her grandmother Nana, and another might call his grandmother Mimi, but they are both still grandmothers. As you introduce these terms it is also important to be a little flexible with your definitions.

You might explain that a child’s aunt is the sister of their mother or father, while being aware that many children have aunts and uncles who are not biologically related, but rather close friends of the family.  You want the children to understand what the terms mean in a definitive sense, but also be able to recognize that the actual relationships are more important than the terms themselves.

I have a vocabulary card set that I created to help introduce terms related to family members, it includes the words Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Brother, Sister, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and Friend. I use the set to introduce the words during large group time (we just do a couple of words each day), then I put them in the writing center so that the children can explore them on their own.  They lead to great conversations about the people in my students lives, and I try my best to help them sort out who’s who in their own family.

Knowing each of these terms helps children understand their own family structures better, and they are able to use this knowledge as they interact with these people throughout the Holiday season! Understanding these words also helps children find similarities with each other and can build understanding and acceptance. 

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