Family Forest

Literature Singles: Picture Books

The family of eight on the branches of a tree

Author: Kim Kane  Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo

Hardie Grant  | ISBN: 9781921564703

Themes: Family, divorce, relationships, difference

Years: Australian Curriculum: English  Year 1   Year 2    Year 3. Suitable for ages 5–8 (publisher’s guide only). This unit targets Lower to Middle Primary.

From the publisher's synopsis: While some kids have a family tree, WE have a family forest! Do you have half-sisters, big brothers, step-parents? The modern family comes in all shapes and sizes ... This gentle and witty picture book looks at one such family.

Exploring the context of literature

  • Draw a picture of your immediate family and label each person with their name and their relationship to you. Find out the history of these family members (age, birth location, places lived in, and jobs). ACELT1587
  • Depending on the cultural background of students’ families, explore family traditions and celebrations. ACELY1655
  • Create a poster including a map to show where family members come from, details of some special celebrations and a deeper focus on one celebration including traditions and foods. ACELY1655
  • Sensitively discuss the issue of divorce. Use the website KidsHealth to read and listen to some advice on this topic. Then read Two of Everything by Babette Cole. Compare how both authors help students to see that different families can be a positive experience by doing a PMI chart on an IWB.  ACELT1594

Examining literature

  • The main character isn’t given a name, but we can infer a lot about him by his descriptions of others. Discuss what kind of a person he might be in real life and create a character profile of him. ACELT1584
  • Write a list of all the different settings pictured in the book. How do these settings help us to understand what the family likes to together? ACELT1599

Responding to literature

  • Explore how split families can relate to each other online. Conduct a poll to see who has communicated with a family member online use Skype or safe social networking tools such as Edmodo. Write a list of advantages as to how this might help blended family members stay close to each other. ACELT1596
  • Find information books from the library with people’s profiles in them. Complete a SWOT analysis for both the factual profile and the book’s literary elements to effectively compare the purposes and features of each style. Which do you prefer and why? ACELT1589

Creating literature

  • Invent another relative that could be added to the family ‘forest’. Use a list of homonyms (.pdf 111 kB) from the website First School Years to choose a homonym that could be used to describe this new relative (for example, bright). Use an IWB to model this process and create illustrations to show the double meanings from the homonyms, for example Uncle Toby is very bright (one picture of him glowing like a light bulb, then a picture of him being really clever and inventing something). ACELT1791
  • Create a ‘class forest’ where everyone creates a page about a friend by drawing an image of them and writing a positive sentence about them. Experiment with how to sequence pages to create a coherent story. ACELT1586

Examining text structure and cohesion (including punctuation)

  • Each character is introduced and their connection to the narrator explained. Why do you think the authors used this structure? Could they have structured the book in a different way? Record suggestions on an IWB. ACELA1478
  • Show students an example of a family tree. Decode by discussing its layout, order, levels and connections. Draw individual family trees then create an electronic family tree online using the Family Tree Kids website. ACELA1466

Examining grammar and vocabulary

  • The text takes many well-known sayings (such as 'half-sister') and explains both their literal and inferential meaning. Complete a retrieval chart on an IWB listing these, including their literal meaning an explanation of their inferred meaning. ACELA1470
  • Analyse the use of pronouns in the book. Use the BBC Skillswise website to find out more out pronouns and practice their use. ACELA1452
  • Create a word wall of homonyms — words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings for example bright (as in light) and bright (as in intelligent). ACELA1484

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • Discuss how the images in the book enhance its positive message through the expressions on the characters’ faces and the choice of warm colours. Scan some pages of the book in and use photo manipulation software such as FotoFlexer to change the overall colour of the images and the character’s expressions. How does this change the mood and tone of the book? ACELA1469

Additional resources: Find a YouTube reading of Family Forest from the City of Wodonga Library in Victoria.