Preparing a Family Tree

Activity 1

Preparing a Family Tre for At Least Three Generations

Purpose: To develop a personal sense of the passage of time.


  • Paper and pencil
  • Rulers
  • Prepared family tree showing three generations (names and dates of birth, death, and marriage).
  • World History journals


Most Montessori teachers present this concept in Years 4 or 5.

Define and discuss family trees and genealogy and what place both have in the study of history.

In Year 4, show a prepared family tree with generations. In Year 5, show a prepared family tree with five or more generations. With the students, examine the prepared family tree, illustrating how one can draw the lines up, down, and across to figure out relationships within the family.

Talk about how family trees are built, starting with one person and higher siblings at the bottom, moving up in lines for each past generation, and ending with ancestors three or more generations back.

Ask one student to choose a name the bottom of the prepared tree and find name of the person’s paternal grandfather (father’s father). Ask another student to find the name of that person’s maternal grandmother (mother’s mother). Repeat with aunts, uncles, and so on, until each student has had a chance to trace relationship on the tree.

Discuss ways the information on the prepared tree could be useful to family members (interest, wills, medical information).

Review the steps the students would take to create their own family tree.

Discuss what the students would do if they did not have enough information about dates or spelling of names to complete their family trees (interview family members, read family documents, leave some rectangles blank if information can not be found.

Ask the students to use their journals to compile their own family trees, including birth, and death dates, and marriage dates. (Year 4s might start with three generations, while Year 5s could do five generations).


* Make a gift of a completed family tree to  family member. Use special font to copy the completed family tree onto a sheet of writing paper, decorate the tree and glue it to stock paper.

* Look at the completed family tree and find any names that appear over and over (e.g., Elizabeth or David). Ask another family member why these names are related and write a short report about it.

*Find a chart showing the pedigree of a famous animal (e.g., racehorse) or the family tree of a famous family (e.g., circus performers, actors, politicians, royalty) and write a summary of the information.

* Make a display showing several historical family crests and mottos.

*Design a crest and motto that could represent family name and history.

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