Students explore the concept of “chosen family.”


Students will be able to:

  1. Identify “chosen family” members in their lives and the roles they have played
  2. Find ways they can make those chosen family members feel loved and appreciated
  3. Create and illustrate a chosen family tree


  • Pen and paper
  • Art supplies – markers, glue, paper, scissors, etc.
  • Students may bring in photos or magazines if they wish



Time Activity Notes
2 min Opening: Ask students an introductory question about family and give them a few minutes to journal a response. Question suggestions:

  • What does family mean to you?
  • Who is your family? Why do you call these people “family”?
  • Are there people outside of your biological relatives that are like family to you?
10 min Discussion: Spend some time talking with students about what makes a chosen family, and how and why we need to cultivate chosen family members in our lives.

A chosen family is the family we choose to surround ourselves with – whether they are technically related to us or not.

Suggested discussion questions:

  • What causes you to consider someone family?
  • Do you have to be related to someone biologically to call someone “family”? Why or why not?
  • What happens to your relationship when you call someone “family”?
  • What does it look like to have a “chosen family”?
  • What are the differences between “biological family” and “chosen family”? Is one always better than the other? Why or why not?
As you engage students with questions of family, consider that “family” can have widely different definitions across cultural and social lines; the idea of this lesson is not to parse strict lines between “natural” and “chosen” families, but rather to empower students to name the people who have supported them and to whom they feel connected.
30 min Creating “Chosen” Family Trees: Allow students to draw, paint, or otherwise create their “chosen family tree”.

When including people, ask students to put a note about how or why they are chosen family members.

Planning to post the trees around the room can serve as a reminder to students of the people that they value and who support them.

Differentiation: Students who have difficulty organizing their thoughts and ideas may benefit from a family tree template with space to write explanations rather than being asked to create a tree from scratch on blank paper.

8 min Reflection: Ask students to write a reflection about their “chosen family tree”. Suggested questions:

  • How did you choose the members of your “chosen family tree”?
  • Do the people on this tree know that you consider them family? If so, what have you done to show them you value them? If not, what can/will you do to show them you value them?
Share Out: If there is more time, students can write about one of their chosen family members, or share back with the class about who is on their family tree.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  • Students reflect on the chosen family members in their lives, and what they do to support those relationships.
  • Students depict those relationships on an chosen family tree.