Make a Family Encyclopedia!

What You Need:

  • Family member questionnaire
  • Pens and markers
  • 9x12” construction paper in rainbow colors
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbons, stickers, glitter
  • Stamps and envelopes (or email)

What You Do:

  1. Start by helping your child make a list of family members, either close by or far away, to include in the “Family Encyclopedia.” Keep the list handy at home so that when answers come back, you can check them off your list.
  2. Come up with a list of questions that your child wants to ask family members. There should be different questions for grown-ups and kids to reflect life experiences.
  3. Help your child draft a letter of introduction to the project with a questionnaire page, asking each person to fill it out, glue on a photo, and send it back. (Give a deadline. It makes a huge difference to get the questionnaire back in a timely manner.)
  4. While you’re waiting to hear back from everyone, have your child create a decorative cover using the 9" x 12” construction paper. Cover both the front and back of a piece of cardboard with construction paper and then decorate the cover using markers and any other special craft supplies your child likes, such as glitter, paint, or stickers. Your child can also do the same for a back cover as well, to sandwich the pages in between.
  5. You’ll also want to help your child make a “table of contents” for the book. You can make one or two pages for this. The first page can be a “family tree” showing who is descended from whom, and/or a list of each person's name with the page number that person's "biography" is on.
  6. When the questionnaires come back, use a glue stick to attach each completed questionnaire onto a different piece of plain construction paper (without cardboard this time). If your family is large, you’ll want to use both sides of each piece of paper. If not, you may only need to work with one side at a time.
  7. Fasten your book together by making 4–5 holes along the side with a hole punch, and then use ribbon to make a loop with a decorative bow through each one. You’ll have a stunning, one-of-a-kind family encyclopedia.

Note: These directions layout an old-fashioned, handmade book, but you can also “go digital” and support technology skill goals in your child’s classroom as well. Don’t worry, you don’t need an expensive service. Instead, use email to send the questionnaire, and request that relatives send their replies through the internet with digital photographs included, if possible. Your child may also want to use computer graphics to layout an attractive cover. However you decide to do this project, you and your child will have a blast enjoying the many responses to the questionnaire, and savoring the joys of seeing your family, page by page.

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