Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

My Family Recipe Book


In this unit, students explore their family and cultural heritage as expressed through food and family stories. Students will conduct a formal research process of their family trees through interviews and an exploration of family stories, traditions and recipes. They will re-tell family stories and favourite recipes in their own book to communicate their cultural heritages. This project emphasizes the importance of food as it relates to culture.

Subjects: Social Studies, Career/Technology, English/Languages Arts

Learning Levels: Grades 4-9

Author(s): Nancie Gatchell-Dennis


Have you ever wondered why we eat what we eat? Why we celebrate birthdays with cake? Why your best friend isn’t allowed to eat pork? How have your family’s culture and traditions influenced what is at your family’s table? Students will explore the relationship between their heritage and family food choices. They will research the influences that history, geography and the availability of food have had on culture. There will be several forms of evaluation, a finished recipe book that will have many components, peer evaluations, teacher observations, and a food presentation.



This is a family studies project designed to incorporate two units; the study of the family and cooking. Classes range from 13 to 16 students. My students have one family studies lab every six days. Each lab is two hours. This unit is designed for five of these labs (10 hours of class time or 5—6 weeks) with some homework.

Class time for word processing and Internet research, and student led conferencing with other students and teachers is required for the development of the recipe book. I recommend small group discussions to clarify requirements, work processes and student problem solving. I also recommend a very structured time line so that all the students complete requirements in a timely manner. The 5-6 week timeline allows for observation of students who are experiencing difficulties and require more direct learning support as they work to complete requirements.

This unit can be adapted to accommodate larger classes and structured for interdisciplinary learning.


Tasks Part One: Developing the recipe book structure.

The recipe book will have the following components when finished:

a) Title Page: The student will design a title page that will have their family name, pictures and illustrations of their family/culture/heritage.

b) Dedication: The student will choose someone to whom to dedicate the book. The dedication could include a picture.

c) Table of Contents: The table of contents, the second page of the book, will list the features and recipes of the book.

d) Family Logo (coat of arms). This can be a researched coat of arms or one that is designed by the student to feature symbols important to family/personal heritage. The illustration of the Coat of Arms may be constructed using traditional media or computer graphic arts software such as Painter or Photoshop.

e) Family Tree: The student will develop interviews as well as conduct Internet research to depict a family tree dating 3- 4 generations, and the cultural backgrounds of the family.

f) Family History: A who, what, where, when, and why story that can include pictures, stories, traditions and celebrations based on a formal interview of a family member and research of that family’s culture (family tree).

g) Traditional Family Recipes: A minimum of 10 recipes that reflect a student’s traditions, culture, and heritage as expressed in the making of food.

h) Word processing, illustration, lamination and binding: Class time is used to draft, edit and conference about the story, illustrations, title pages, logos, and the book’s layout and design prior to lamination and binding the book together.

Tasks Part Two: The Demonstration.

Students will choose one recipe which depicts their family’s traditions, culture and heritage, and will prepare that recipe at home to share with classmates. Students provide a brief presentation on their family culture and share their recipe book. Parents, students and educators share in this experience and will complete a student-made evaluation.

A rubric for this exercise is recommended. Student involvement in the development of the criteria and determination of what constitutes an acceptable level of accomplishment should be done in the class at the beginning of the project. In this way, all students understand what is required of them (the criteria) and the quality of accomplishment differences which differentiate levels of research, writing and performance.


Using questions similar to the ones contained in the invitation, the teacher will motivate the class during a discussion of family traditions, cultures and heritage to understand what the terms mean and to begin to recognize the influences of these factors on personal identity.

The importance of food in developing and maintaining traditions, culture and connection with heritage must be discussed. Students are assigned to small group discussions to brainstorm and refine questions which will draw out from family interviews and through Internet research, rich information and stories about their family’s culture, heritage and traditions.

Students and teacher collaborate to develop assessment rubrics and to share creative book layout and design ideas. The teacher assigns very specific objectives to brainstorm in these groups and the students may use a variety of methods (concept maps, webs) to depict their answers. This is shared with the class. Students conduct interviews with family members, research family heritage and cultural backgrounds using family artefacts and Internet web sites.


The following assessment strategies are suggested:

  1. Teacher observations of small group discussions, class discussions, and brainstorms as well as if the student is on task.
  2. Completed assignments during the unit
  3. Teacher created rubrics to assess the recipe book
  4. Student /teacher created rubrics (criteria) to assess the food demonstration and presentation.


Information Resources and Tools

a) family photo albums, baby books, recipe books

b) family members

c) National Archives of Canada

d) WorldGen Web

e) Genealogy Gateway to the web

f) Search Engine

Technology Tools

a) Computers with internet access and word processing

b) Digital cameras

c) Scanner

d) Laminator and ring binder

e) Paper and cover stock

f) Family Studies Lab

Assessment Tools

a) Teacher created rubrics

b) Student/Teacher created rubrics

Other Tools:

Flip charts