Families may change

Time to complete Families may change: 60 minutes

Year level: 1


Students consider the ways that a family may change, and identify ways to cope with changes.

Learning focus

Families change over time.

Key understandings

  • People’s lives have different stages of growth and development.

  • Families change when a baby arrives or there is a death in the family.

  • People cope in different ways when there is change.

  • People get messages about families from the media that do not always reflect reality.


  • Lion King DVD [89mins] or similar
  • Large piece of butcher's paper
  • Student Activity Sheet: If I were Simba [one per student]
  • Student Activity Sheet: I can cope [one per student]

General capabilities

No General Capabilities values have been selected.

Health and physical education(P)

Personal, social and community health

This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.

Relationships and sexuality

Blooms revised taxonomy

No Blooms values have been selected.

Inquiry learning phase

No Inquiry Learning phase values have been selected.

Related items

Teaching resource (download) Guides

Before you get started

  • The following activities are an introduction to changes that occur in the family structure including birth and death, as well as ways of coping with change.

  • It is recommended that the teacher only use these activities once they have an understanding of each student’s family life and current situation.

  • Similarly themed stories can be used to illustrate changes within the family, e.g. Cinderella, 101 Dalmatians, Babe.

  • Teachers should know and understand the protective interrupting technique and what, why, when and how it is needed and used.

Learning activities

Whole Class

This activity develops students' understanding of positive and negative change and feelings associated with those changes. Specifically, it looks at changes that occur in the family structure, including birth and death, as well as introducing ways of coping with change. 

  1. As a class, use the brainstorm teaching strategy to identify changes that may occur within a family, looking at both positives and negatives, and how it could make students feel, e.g. ideas may include the death of a pet, birth of a baby brother or sister, separation of their family, etc. Write responses on a large sheet of butcher's paper.

  2. Read or watch The Lion King or alternative story. (Note: students can watch over a series of 3 or 4 lessons).

    • Either complete the story or stop at intervals to discuss the feelings associated with the changes in the family structure from the perspective of the chosen characters.

    • Examine and discuss the effect of changes in the family in the chosen story.  Identify which changes might be viewed as positive or negative.

  1. Chart the class findings in a Cause and Effect diagram. For example:

Cause Effect
Birth of Simba

Parents happy, kingdom celebrates, Scar is jealous

  1. Discuss the ways the family coped with change in the chosen story, e.g. "How did Simba cope with the death of his father?". Was this a good way of coping?

Note: The concept of 'coping' may need further explanation and specific examples may need to be provided.

Independent or Small Group

Students identify specific strategies to cope with changes in their own family.

  1. Encourage students to consider what might have been other and/or more effective ways of coping to the strategies used by the characters in the chosen story.

    • Use an explosion chart or mind map strategy to record student ideas.

    • If the story of the Lion King was used in the Whole Class activity, students can individually complete the Student Activity Sheet: If I were Simba.

    • To build up a bank of ideas for coping with change, students complete the Student Activity Sheet: I can cope.

  1. Have students describe or draw about what they have discovered about helpful ways of coping with change (e.g. talk to a friend, parent, sibling, teacher, have a cry, hug or talk to your pet).


Choose some of the following questions to discuss and/or write responses to.

  • What is a family?

  • Where can we find families?

  • Do families always have to live in the one place together or do some families live in different houses/towns/countries?

  • Do we find out different information about other families from TV shows and ads? If so, what?

  • Do the families you see on TV shows or ads mostly live in the one house together, and mostly have a Mum, a Dad and some children?

  • How do you think people might feel if their own families weren't like the ones on TV or ads? Why?

  • What could the people who make TV shows and ads do to change this?

  • Why do we live in families?

  • When might change occur in a family?

  • How do people cope with changes in their family?

  • What would you do to cope with a change in your family such as....?