Description

This continues the "possessive" theme, since it will involve phrases like "the girl's father". It also adds another group of some of the most basic vocabulary in any language. You may find that these terms are not learned as easily as body part terms, since they deal with abstract relationships, rather than concrete objects.

Arrange the human figures so that one, let's say a school-aged girl, is at bottom center *. Then place near her an older brother and younger brother, and older sister and younger sister, a mother, and a father. Learn to understand terms for all of these relationships. Change the central figure to a baby. Then place a female figure in the bottom center, and learn the terms for her son, daughter and husband. Place an adult male figure at the center, and add the word for wife. Depict grandfather, grandmother, grandchild, etc. Learn words for family, siblings, parents.

This activity is a time of discovery. Terms may differ for brother or sister depending on the gender of the person who’s brother and sister we are talking about. Maternal and paternal grandparents may be called by different terms. Terms for brothers and sisters may differ based on whether they are younger or older, etc., etc. At this point do not attempt more than the three generations involved in a single nuclear family. Don’t try to add in-laws, uncles and aunts, cousins.

Be warned that some cultures may have amazingly complex kinship systems. For now deal with these basic words which will enable the GP to later describe any relationship (so that you can later ask questions such as “What do I call my wife’s brother’s son’s son?”)

Note: in order to make clear to the nurturer who is at the "center" during the activity, leave all the other dolls lying down, but make the doll you are focusing on sit up.  For example, put the school-aged girl sitting up and lay her siblings next to her with her older brother to the left and the younger siblings to the right.

Materials to gather

a set of dolls depicting various ages works nicely. Otherwise drawings or photos can be used.