Second-Graders Explore Traditions in Family Museum

familymuseum-for-webCelebrating culture, tradition, personal stories and love, Grade 2 students presented their Family Museum, sharing their months of exploration into their own families and history.

The students interviewed family members and collected artifacts from their history—a 200-year-old family bible, a military medal, a Milton diploma, a Korean hanbok, a fraternity leadership gavel, and a traditional shofar were among the exhibits. They also designed their own family crests, recorded videos, shared unique family traditions, told parts of their family stories in Spanish and wrote persuasive essays to their parents.

“The students take away an appreciation for who they are,” says second-grade teacher Sue Munson. “A lot of them have not had these kinds of conversations with their family members. They’re learning so much about where they’re from and the special people in their lives. Each piece of history, whether it’s about their parent’s childhood or an event, has a big story behind it.”

Students shared things their families like to do together—taking trips, celebrating cultural and religious holidays, singing songs before dinner—and, in their essays, some asked to continue building on family traditions, such as parents regularly sharing childhood stories.

Research shows that developing a strong family narrative and passing on traditions help to make children more resilient and give them a great sense of belonging, explain Sue and Grade 2 teacher Sachiyo Unger. Understanding the ups and downs in a family’s history can help children feel more grounded, confident and able to withstand periods of stress—knowing their family and ancestors have stuck together and survived through challenges and triumphs.

This is the second year that students have done a family museum, and it was on display for parents to visit and explore. The students explored family structures and how each family is different, whether through the blending of culture and race, remarriage, single parenthood, LGBT parenthood, fostering, adoption or other factors—and that our assumptions about them based on appearances may be incorrect.

“We look at the different configurations of families to show the kids how all families are different, but love is what binds them together,” Sachiyo says.