The Family as a Community

K, 1, 2

How is a family like a community? In this lesson students recognize the traits of a community in their family. In the family community, the members are unique, each contributing different qualities, and are bound by love and caring. Students recognize that their neighborhood is also a community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • illustrate and list the members of his/her family community.
  • state how a family or neighborhood is a community.
  • identify people who are in his/her neighborhood community.
  • Read aloud copy of Families Are Different
  • Photos of teacher’s own family
  • 9" x 12" White construction paper for each student
  • Small and large circles for tracing (e.g. margarine tub and 9" plate)
Home Connection 
Hang up on a bulletin board or classroom wall the family/neighborhood drawings. When the families visit during the family "Make and Take It Night" (Lesson Six), the students describe the family drawing and read the sentence to their family.
  • Pellegrini, Nina. Families Are Different. Holiday House, 1991. ISBN 0823408876.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the students several photographs of your own (immediate and extended) family. As you show the pictures, talk about each person’s relationship to you and describe his/her attributes (appearance, age, talents, interests, etc.). The goal is to portray your family as a "diverse" community. After you have shown the photos, tell the students that your family is a community to which you belong. Ask them how a family is like a community. Listen to and confirm their accurate comparisons. You may need to remind them of the definition of a community as a group that comes together for a common purpose or for the common good.

  2. Tell the students that you are going to read to them about a family that has unique people in it (just like every family). Encourage them to listen to what holds the family together as a community. Ask them to listen for what communities Nico belongs to. Read aloud Families Are Different by Nina Pellegrini.
  3. While reading the book, periodically stop and discuss the main character’s concerns about her family. Guiding questions: Why doesn’t Nico look like her parents? How does this make her feel? How does Nico share her feelings with her family? How does Nico’s mother reassure her? What are some of the feelings Nico is experiencing? (Focus on trust.)
  4. In the story, Nico discovers diversity in other families in her neighborhood. Ask the students to describe how Nico’s (and their own) neighborhood is a community.
  5. Discuss the following questions: What holds families together? What is their purpose? What do neighbors have in common? Why is diversity (of appearance, values, interests, jobs, etc.) important in a community?
  6. Work together to compose a short sentence that expresses what families and neighbors do as a community. Example: "Communities share, help and support each other."
  7. Give each student a large piece of white construction paper. They trace on the paper a small circle inside of a larger one. The students draw their own family inside the smaller circle and write the following label: My family. In the larger circle, around their family, they draw some of their neighbors. The neighbors may have rakes, flowers, be holding hands, etc. Outside of the circles, the students write the sentence they composed together (see bullet point above).
Assess students’ understanding of the concept through their drawings and participation in the discussions and development of the sentence.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe the "characteristics of place" related to the school and neighborhood.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.