Every Family Is the Same. Every Family Is Different.


Activities will help students:

  • understand, appreciate and respect similarities and differences
  • exhibit pride in their own unique families
  • learn about different types of families
  • identify specific similarities and differences between their family and their classmates’ families

Essential Questions: 

  • What makes a family a family?
  • How can someone who looks different be the same as me?
  • How do you feel when you visit a family that is different from yours?
  • What does it mean to accept someone’s differences?
  • How can I be more accepting of someone who is different from me?

Materials Needed: 

  • Question Cards (K-2, 3-5) (cut out and placed in a pile)
  • Two Families (K-2, 3-5)
  • We Are the Same. We Are Different. (K-2, 3-5)

This lesson is the third in a series called “Family Tapestry.”

We live in an increasingly diverse world, even within our own family structures. The concept of the “nuclear” family does not predominate in our society as it once did. More children are being raised by single parents, by same-sex parents, in blended families and in families with mixed race, religion and ethnicity. Even though differences are common, that does not automatically make children comfortable with their own unique family situations or with differences in their peers’ families. And as families look different, it may be harder to identify what is similar.

Because young children form ideas about themselves and other people early in life, it is important to begin teaching antibias lessons early and to help children recognize and accept differences and see similarities beyond the surface. If we reinforce these lessons, children will learn to appreciate, rather than fear, differences and to recognize bias and stereotypes when they see them. As children begin to compare their family situation with others, they may start expressing their concerns about being different. We know that children need to be reassured that differences are fine. The exposure to families that may not be like their own, in particular, encourages tolerance and acceptance because they see that, even within their own classroom, everyone’s family is unique! 

Professional Development
Starting Small: This training kit for early childhood educators profiles seven innovative classrooms in which teachers are helping children practice fairness, respect and tolerance. Teachers can order this kit for free


custom [kuhs-tuhm]
(noun) habitual activity usually passed down from one generation to another

different [dif-er-uhnt]
(adjective) not alike in character or quality

diversity [dih-vur-si-tee]
(noun) variety, differences

family [fam-uh-lee]
(noun) a group of people going through the world together, often adults and the children they care for

same [seym]
(adjective) agreeing in kind, look, quality, etc.

unique [yoo-neek]
(adjective) having no like or equal


  1. (Note: Divide the class into two groups of equal size. One group should stand or sit in a circle, looking out. The other group should stand or sit in a larger circle around them, looking in. So the two circles of students will be facing each other, with a partner for each student.) Review the words “same” and “different” by finding one trait that is the same as and one trait that is different than the person facing you in the circle. For example, if you are both girls, that is the same. If one of you is tall and one is short, that is different. Share a few examples of your same and different qualities with the class.
  2. (Note: Cut out the cards from the “Question Cards” handout and place them in a pile.) Read aloud the top question card from the pile. Then share the answer to the question with the student facing you from the other circle. Once you have each answered, report back to the class whether your answers were the same or different. Keep a tally of how many “same” answers and how many “different” answers you get.
  3. Now the inner circle should move one spot to the left, so that new partners form. Continue to read questions until you get to the end of the pile or until everyone has had a chance to partner with everyone from the opposite circle.
  4. Go back to your seats and talk as a class about the task. Discuss:
    • Were your answers and your partner’s answers more often the same or different?
    • Is it OK to have different opinions and responses from your friends?
    • What would happen if everyone in the class were exactly the same?
    • In what way does it make our class community better to be different from each other in some ways?
  5. (Note: Distribute the "Two Families" handout.) Read the handout silently. Then answer the questions at the end of the handout.
  6. Together with a partner, share and compare your answers to the “Two Families” handout. After reviewing the answers, tell your partner if you think your family is more like Aaron’s, Maria’s or neither, and why. Tally answers among the class.
  7. (Note: Distribute the “We Are the Same. We Are Different.” handout.) Read the directions on the handout. Choose a partner and share information with your partner about your family. Think of family traits we have covered in the previous lessons or review the questions at the bottom of the handout. In the space where the two circles meet, write three things that are the same about your family and your partner’s family. In the spaces where the circles do not meet, write three things that are different about your family and your partner’s family.
  8. Present your graphic organizers to the class and share what is the same and what is different about your families.
  9. Then, one at a time, finish these sentences:
    • Our families are different because _____________________.
    • Our families are the same because _____________________.

Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards from the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

CCSS: SL:1, SL.3, SL.4, SL.6, W.1

Extension Activity: 

In the style of the “Two Families” handout, write a paragraph that describes your family and a paragraph that describes your partner’s. Challenge another classmate to find the similarities and differences between the two families.