Family History

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Social Studies, United States History

Grade 5- 8


Students will develop an appreciation of family history.



  1. Brainstorm with the class the importance of their family and how every family is important to the growth and development of a country.
  2. Read the short biography of Maya Lin included in the activity page link below. Discuss the importance of the Vietnam War Memorial. Emphasize the struggle that the young Asian woman went through after winning a national contest with her design.
  3. Optional: Ask a Vietnam vet to speak to your class.
  4. Students write a biography of their family. Students mount copies of photos of their family members under the biography.
  5. Show film clips about the Vietnam War and/or a biography of Maya Lin.
  6. Divide a large piece of butcher paper in half. Have students type lists of their immediate family into the computer and glue each list on the butcher paper.
Extended Activities
Materials: shoeboxes, construction paper, clay, pencil, paper
Design an outdoor monument for a famous person. (Examples: Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington Monument)
  1. Show pictures of famous memorials.
  2. Discuss famous people students think contributed to the U.S. in some way.
  3. Students make a list of at least 5 people in history who have made a difference.
  4. Students select a person, find photos and design a monument out of self-hardening clay to represent that person.
  5. A written biography of a person, drawing of the design, and description of why this design was chosen to represent the person is to go along with the monument.
  6. Students construct a diorama from a shoebox to set the stage for their monuments. They draw or collect photos of the surrounding area and place them in the shoebox. The 3-D design is to be placed in or in front of a diorama. Display in a prominent area.


  • 36' x 90' white butcher paper
  • pencil
  • chalk
  • paint
  • crayons
  • colored pencils
  • newspaper clippings
  • copies of family photos
  • Further information on the Vietnam War

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