Ancestors Tree


Students will:

Discuss how family history can help produce feelings of self-worth.

Use a vocabulary common to the study of family history.

Begin to write known family information onto a pedigree chart.



Ancestor: a person from whom one is descended (e.g., father, mother, grandparents, etc.—not aunts or uncles).

Genealogy: the science of studying about our ancestors (also called family history).

Generation: the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their children (approximately twenty to twenty-five years).

Given Name: a person's first name(s).

Maiden Name: a female’s surname or family name at birth.

Maternal Line: the line of descent on the mother’s side.

Nickname: an informal version of a given name (e.g., a person with the last name of McDowell could have been called "Mac" or "Mic" by his friends or a girl with the name Elizabeth may be known as "Liz" or "Beth").

Paternal Line: the line of descent on the father’s side.

Pedigree: an ancestral line or line of descent.

Surname: a person’s last name or family name.





Episode Overview

This first episode presents helpful insights for starting your family history. Part one introduces Victor Villaseņor. He grew up in Southern California as a Mexican-American, feeling outcast and ashamed. When he began to look at his past, he found great value in learning about his ancestors. In part two, expert Desmond Allen introduces the pedigree chart, and explains how to use it as an important tool for recording information about your ancestors.

Before Viewing the Episode

  • Duplicate the student handout on the next page, and the pedigree chart found later in this teacher's guide.
  • Explain what the Ancestors Series is about (see INTRODUCTION). Read aloud the EPISODE OVERVIEW and OBJECTIVES.
  • Briefly review the VOCABULARY words with your students.
  • Distribute only the student handout page. Wait to distribute the pedigree chart until you begin ACTIVITY 3.
  • Review the questions in ACTIVITY 1.

After Viewing the Episode

Activity 1
Discuss family history and self-worth

  1. Encourage students to discuss the episode and share their observations about Victor Villaseņor. Discuss how Victor developed feelings of self-worth by learning about his ancestors. Use the following questions to stimulate discussion. They are the same questions as on the student handout.
  2. About how old was Victor when the redheaded boy named Howard told him he was bad? (Victor had not yet started kindergarten.)
  3. What did Howard expect Victor to be carrying with him? (A knife.) Note the dialog below.
    (Victor: "I don’t got a knife."
    Howard: "Mexicans’ always got knives . . . I can’t play with you, Mexicans’ are bad people."
    Victor: "Oh, I didn’t know, I’m sorry.") Note the innocence and sensitivity of Victor’s response to Howard. Point out the emotional harm that can come when we stereotype and judge a person without knowing him.
  4. What words did Victor use to describe himself after his experience with Howard? (He felt his people were bad, stupid, and dangerous.) Note how Victor explained it. ("I’m not even in first grade and I already know that my people are bad, stupid, other people are frightened of them, they carry knives and they’re dangerous.")
  5. Who did Victor begin to resent? (His parents.) Why? (Because he thought that they had lied to him.) Remember that Victor’s father told him that everyone was Mexican, and if they were not, then they should be.
  6. After Victor went to Mexico (at age nineteen) and learned more about his culture, what did he realize about himself? What did he say? ("I come from somebody, from somewhere. I am somebody!")
  7. Who became Victor’s greatest heroes? (His parents.)
  8. In Victor’s story about his father running to catch the train to rejoin his family, what was pulling and pushing his father? (Love for his mother and family pulled him and fear of being left alone in the desert pushed him.) Note how Victor stated it.
  9. When Victor started talking and getting to know people deep inside, what did he begin to realize about an ordinary story? (An ordinary story can became . . . great (and) wonderful.)
  10. What did Victor say about those of us who think we are "nobodies?" ("We that think we are nobodies have very special stories.")

Activity 2
Complete the Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle

  • Review the vocabulary words with your students and give examples, as needed, from the definitions in the left-hand column on this page.
  • Have students complete the activity.
  • The answers are:
    Down - 1. Nickname 2. Paternal 3. Maiden 4. Genealogy 5. Ancestor.
    Across - 4. Given 6. Maternal 7. Surname 8. Pedigree 9. Generation.

Activity 3
Begin Filling In a Pedigree Chart

  • Distribute copies of the blank five generation pedigree chart.
  • Have your students:
    - Use a pencil.
    - Write down as much information as they can remember.
    - Follow the key concepts.

On to the Activity Page | Back to Introduction