L’Dor V’Dor Family History Project

By: Sherry Saper
from Pardes Jewish Day School

Interdisciplinary Integration

Subject(s) of entry:
English/ Writing/ Language Arts

PBL - project based learning

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
5, Elementary school, Middle school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
5, Elementary school, Middle school

The project involves students researching their family’s past by interviewing family members. Following the interviews, the students compile biographies, stories, artifacts, maps, recipes, family trees, traditions and photographs into family websites. A culminating museum exhibition enables students to present websites and family artifacts.

Entry Narrative

 L’Dor V’Dor


Preserving our family history is important. Everyone should know as much as they can about their family’s past; how and when they came to this country and what influenced them to come here. Students become their family’s historian, chronicling life through as many generations as possible. Throughout the project they get the opportunity to interview family members, research, compose, use their artistic abilities and technology, gather photographs and artifacts, and hopefully, find out what makes them a unique and special “link” in their family’s chain. As a culminating project, students present their research, websites, artifacts, and display boards at an exhibition where they become the docents of their individual family histories. L’dor V’dor Celebration Cake Decorated with Invitation

L’Dor V’Dor Exhibition

L’Dor V’Dor Exhibition

Enduring Understandings

  • Families inherit a wealth of stories, traditions, histories, behaviors, and attitudes rooted in the past.
  • Learning to appreciate, celebrate, learn from, continue, and build on this heritage is the challenge of each generation.
  • A family’s history, traditions, celebrations, and daily patterns of life make up its heritage.   
  • People learn about themselves when they learn about their family heritage.

Essential Questions:

  • What is family heritage?
  • How does family heritage affect one’s beliefs and behaviors?
  • How do families share their history?
  • Why do families pass down stories?
  • How can people benefit from knowing their family history?
  • How can learning about our family heritage help us learn about ourselves?

Required Components:

Family Website – Each subpage title in English and Hebrew    Student Example of L’Dor V’Dor Website

   Helpful Links:

          ( Google Slides, Prezi)  Student Example of Photos with Captions

How To Interview Family Members

Museum Artifacts

  • Five to eight family items of importance (grandfather’s tallit, family Shabbat candlesticks, a copy of Dad’s Bar Mitzvah speech, first pair of shoes, etc.)
  • Students write a brief description of each item.  Example: This Kiddush cup was given to my parents at their wedding in 1991.
  • These artifacts will be on display the day of the exhibition.

Tri-fold Display Board

Students create  displays that tell their family history using minimum text and maximum images (photos, maps, charts)

  • photographs of relatives a ship manifest
  • family names
  • a census list
  • marriage certificates
  • birth/death certificates
  • war ration stamps
  • ketubah
  • family tree
  • passports
  • old maps
  • newspaper articles
  • passenger lists
  • ship records

Student Example of Exhibition Display

Student Example of Exhibition Display

Student Example of Exhibition Display

Student Example of Exhibition Display

Choice  Components  Students choose one.

Immigration Experience – Students write about their family members who first came to the United States, telling who they were, where they came from, and when. Why did their family come to America?

Students explain what their family member’s life was like in his/her former country; what the actual immigration process involved, and tell what life was like in their first years in the United States: Through the interview process, students ask questions such as: Did they have any trouble getting jobs? Were there language and culture problems? Prejudice? They include a map and mark down the main stops in the journey of the immigrants from their old homelands to America and the dates in which they reached each stop. The map must show clearly the cities on the route. (Google Tour Builder, Google Docs or StoryJumper) .  Student Example of Google Tour Builder


Historical Memories – Students find out what it was like for their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to live through major historical events. They must do some research to get a feel for the major events of that time. This section is crucial to making the project an historical document and not just a scrapbook disguised as a website. Did their great-grandparents live through the Korean War or World War II? Are there any Holocaust survivors in their families? What were their great-grandparents doing in 1948 when the State of Israel was established?  Did anyone serve in the Israeli army? Students discover what memories their relatives have about different time periods and events and write about them. The memories can be national events, international events, community life, etc. (Google Tour Builder, iMovie). Student Example of Grandfather’s Interview for the Shoah Foundation


Optional Components

  1. The Day I Was Born – Students create a newspaper from the day they were born by choosing five newsworthy events that occurred on the day, week, or month they were born. Their paper should resemble a newspaper with columns, headlines, subheadings, graphics, etc. Time Capsule
  2. Students write a poem or song about themselves: They may choose to write a poem or a song/rap. They should feel free to record or make a video of themselves singing their song and put it on their website.
  3. Family Physical Traits Passed Down?

           Students find out all about a set of grandparents or great-grandparents. Instead of just the names and dates of births, students                                 write down a particular physical trait. Some good examples would be hair color or the color of one’s eyes. They then prepare a graph of the             number of grandchildren or great-grandchildren with that physical trait. Does a pattern emerge? Why or why not?

  1. Once Upon A Time . . . Students write a fictionalized or true account of how their parents met. They take the REAL story and change the names and places to protect the innocent. Students then make the story into children’s storybook using StoryJumper.
  2. What’s cookin’? Students choose a favorite family recipe and prepare it. They copy down the recipe and write a detailed description of their attempts to recreate this family masterpiece in the kitchen.
  3. I am most like my ……….. Students choose a family member they have inherited the most qualities from. Explain who they are most like and why they think that is.


Entrant Bio(s)

I have been teaching in a Jewish Day School setting since 1991. My teaching career began at Solomon Schechter Day School in Phoenix when my third son entered kindergarten there. I taught self-contained 5th-grade classes, 5th/6th multi-grade classes, and 6th through 8th-grade middle school math, language arts, and social studies. Solomon Schechter became The King David School, a community day school until it merged with Jess Schwartz Academy. I currently teach fifth grade at Pardes Jewish Day School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout my day school teaching career, I have served as Middle School Coordinator, Programming and Event Coordinator, and have served on many committees including NCA Casi accreditation.