Grade: Elementary

#2377. My Heritage Poem

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Fri Sep 14 17:57:04 PDT 2001 by Erin Watson (
Chicago, IL
Materials Required: student supplied baby and family photos, posterboard, baby name book
Activity Time: approx 30 minutes for five days
Concepts Taught: social awareness, experiancing and appreciating different cultures

Heritage Poem

I did this with third graders.
Discuss with the students the words HERITAGE, CULTURE, NATIONALITY, RACE. The differences and similarities between these words definitions are difficult for everyone to understand, so there will be a lot of discussion about the words. Tell the students they are going to write a form poem about themselves and their heritage. The first day, give the following for homework:

My name (first and last):
I was named this because:
My ancestors are from:
My family celebrates:
We like to eat:
I have _________ hair, __________ eyes, and ____________ skin

Have the kids fill this out with parents help. Explain that they may have been named after a family member, because of what the name means, or just because their parents liked the name, but they need to find that information out. Also send home a note to parents explaining the project and asking for between three and seven photos of the child as a baby, toddler and young elementary student, and some family pictures of celebrations (Christmas time, etc.)

Day 1
The next day have a "name day". Bring in a few baby name books and try to look up the meaning of all your students' names. Some of their last names may be listed too. Have students write down what their name means.

Discuss with students the importance of a name in a family. Talk about how much time people spend deciding on a name for their children. Talk about why it is important for some people to give their child a family name or a name associated with their religion or culture.

Day 2
Give students the form for the poem. Have them make a 'sloppy copy" with their information.
The form:

First name
Which means (name meaning)
Who has (list three physical characteristics)
Who is the sister/brother of (list siblings)
Whose ancestors are from (name country or countries)
Who celebrates (name holidays or religious celebrations)
Who likes to eat (name three favorite foods in your family)
Last name


Which means peace
Who has brown eyes, brown hair and pale skin
Who is the sister of Jill, Lori and Amy
Whose ancestors are from Ireland, Scotland and North America
Who celebrates Christmas, Easter and St. Patrick's Day
Who likes to eat fondue, beef stew and potato pancakes

Work on the poem for the next few days until all students have a polished copy. Give each student a small piece of poster board to mount their poem and photos on. Encourage them to further decorate their poster board with drawings of their family. Hang the posters above each students seat.