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ESL Family Tree Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

This lesson provides an overview of the structure of a family tree to use ESL (English as a Second Language) learners. Students will review the components of the family, discuss the structure, and learn about a family tree.

Learning Objective

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Talk about a family tree using appropriate vocabulary and phrases.
  • Explain what a family tree is.
  • Make connections to their own family tree.

Length of Lesson

45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.


Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.

Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Family tree
  • Relationships
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Cousin
  • Grandparents
  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother

Materials Needed

  • Computer with LCD to project the lesson image
  • Image of a tree with branches and roots
  • Index cards with vocabulary words written on each one, enough sets for groups of two to three
  • Paper and pen
  • Books

Starter Activity

Project the image of a tree with branches and roots. Ask students:

  • What is this a picture of?
  • What can you tell me about trees?
  • What are some of the parts of a tree?
  • Where are the leaves? Branches? Roots
  • Today we are going to talk about family trees. What do you think that is?

Lesson Instruction

  • Gather the students in a circle and read a book to them about family trees. Here are some suggestions:
    • The Kids' Family Tree Book by Caroline Leavitt
    • Me and My Family Tree by Joan Sweeney
    • Do People Grow on Family Trees by Ira Wolfman
  • Let students know that today we are going to learn about families and family trees
  • Ask students what some family words are and write them on the board
  • Review the vocabulary list and fill in as needed
  • Read the book to the students
  • After reading the book, ask students which words were in the book. Cross off words on the paper as they name them. Clarify any words not on the list
  • Ask students what are some other family relationships?


Memory Game

Create a set of cards for each group of two in the class. Using index cards, glue stock images of family members from free websites. Write the vocab word under the picture.

  1. Have students partner with another classmate.
  • Have students turn cards over.
  • Students will choose a first card and try to match the second.
  • The student with the most pairs wins.

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