I started thinking about elephants. Female elephants and juvenile males live in complex social groups that are matriarchal in hierarchy. One elder female elephant leads a multi-generational herd of related females and young males. They all travel together, and protect and care for each other. And since elephants can live as long as humans, and their behaviors suggest a deep emotional intelligence, the bonds they form with each other are just as strong as the bonds we form with our human family members. This PBS website discusses more about the social behaviors of African elements, and even includes a family pedigree chart of one particular herd!
Kids love watching and learning about elephants. And I think you can combine a science/nature lesson about elephants with a family history lesson, using the elephants' social structure has a jumping-off point. Here is a worksheet with some cute little elephants, where kids can write down the names of immediate and extended female family members who they feel sometimes act as a mother towards them. (Click on image to download PDF.)
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