Grandparent Biography

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Grandparent Biography
Every person has a story, a biography, a family history worth telling and saving. This is your chance to explore your family history, to learn about the changes in the way your family has lived over several generations. These are the people who have influenced your own life and brought you to where you are today. Have fun discovering!
This is an individual research project. Your assignment is to write a biography of one of your grandparents or another relative of that generation. If your grandparents live nearby, interview them. If they do not live nearby or are no longer living, your job is a little tougher. You’ll either have to write to them, rely on your memory, or talk to your parents and any other relatives to find out the information you’ll need.

Your biography will be divided into chapters by different ages. The following questions are places to start or suggestions. You do not have to ask all of them. Think about what you want to know and develop your own questions. Grandparents have wonderful stories; please include them in your biographies. Above all, respect your grandparent’s privacy if there are things they prefer not to talk about.

Be prepared for the interview. Have plenty of paper, pencil or a tape recorder available. Read through the questions several times. Take notes as you conduct the interview, but make sure you’re a good listener also. Thank your grandparent when you are finished.

Chapter 1: Early Years

In what country were you born? Who where the first family members to settle in the United States? What brought them here and how did they get the money to come here? When did they come? What language did they speak and does the place where they came from have a different name today? Where did you spend your childhood? What was it like? Tell me about your family. What kind of chores did you do as a child? What kinds of toys did you have? Any pets? What was your favorite food? What person was really important to you as a child? What stories do you remember from your childhood?

Chapter 2: Teenage Years

How many years of school did you attend? What was your favorite subject? What were you like as a teenager? What clubs or social groups did you belong to? What did you do with your free time? How old were you when you started dating? What was your first job? What was life like at this time? Who were your best friends? What are some of your happiest memories? What were your goals for your life? How were teenagers different then from the teenagers of today?

Chapter 3: Marriage and Family Life

How did you meet your spouse? How many places did you live during your married life? How many children did you have? Who are they? What ideas did you think were important in raising children? What was your life like?

Chapter 4: Earning a Living

How did you choose your work? What kinds of help did you have getting started? Did both of you work outside the home? What jobs were acceptable or common for women? What about for men? What activities did you participate in outside of work or home?

Chapter 5: Life’s Reflections

What have been the major accomplishments in your life? What have been the biggest adversities you have faced in your life? How did you overcome them or what did you learn from them? How did they affect your life? What are any stories you want to pass on? Are there any family traditions that our family has that have been carried down from your grandparents?

Chapter 6: Conclusion/Comparison to Yourself

This is the chapter where you provide the answers. What did you learn? Compare the differences and the similarities between your life and your grandparent’s life. What are your thoughts, feelings, and connections on your grandparent’s life?
Final Draft must be word processed and double-spaced. Final draft must include these parts:

  1. Cover Pageinclude a title, the author (you), and the date

  2. Dedication Page – choose someone to dedicate your biography to and write a short message.

  3. Chapters 1-6 – Remember, you are writing an essay.

    1. All the chapters should flow together.

    2. You may separate each chapter with a heading.

    3. DO NOT include the actual questions in the writing.

    4. Also, do not answer questions that are not relevant to your grandparent. For example, one of the questions in Chapter One is, “does the place where they came from have a different name today.” If the answer is no, then you do not need to address that question in your biography.

  4. Pictures – with captions.

    1. They may be copies of originals – please keep cherished photos at home.

    2. Pictures can all be at the end or throughout the biography – it’s your choice.

Immigrant Poster

We have been reading about other people’s experiences immigrating to new countries and adjusting to new and unfamiliar cultures. Now, it’s time to learn about your own family history. Your assignment is to make an immigration poster for your ancestors. Your poster should include these parts:

  • Your name – do not write your name tiny in the corner – it should be the title of the poster.

  • World Map – colored to show from which countries your ancestors originally came

  • United States Map – colored and labeled showing any moves your ancestors and your immediate family have made.

  • Family Heirloom – a section describing it and explaining what makes this treasure special to your family. Include a picture or drawing.

  • Anecdote telling why your ancestors came to America. This section explains why your family came to America and includes any immigration stories about your family’s journey. Please include dates if you can!

See the back of this paper for a sample layout of your poster. Your poster does not have to be set up exactly like the sample. It is just for ideas. Remember these tips:

  • I don’t want to see huge areas of blank poster.

  • Use your space wisely – fill it in!

  • ABSOLUTELY NO PENCIL in your final product – this is a final project and it needs to look good.

  • Using the computer is a great way to make these posters stand out.

  • Using a piece of poster board other than white is a great way to make your poster stand out and look like it’s filled up.

International Recipe Card

Choose a recipe from the country in which your ancestors came. It may be a family recipe or a new recipe that you have found in a cookbook. Write your recipe on a regular 8.5x11 sheet of paper and decorate it with designs representing the country. Make sure to include:

  • Your name

  • Name of recipe

  • Country of origin

  • Ingredients

  • Procedure

  • Where you got the recipe


You will give a 1-2 minute presentation on what you have learned. Include the parts that you found most interesting. Please use your poster as a visual.

Heritage Project Timeline
Project Assigned: January 10, 2011

Project Due (Bio, poster & recipe): February 24, 2011

  • By January 14th, decide WHO your biography will be about. I will be asking you the morning of the 14th who you have chosen. You need to be able to give me a name.

  • By January 28th: You should have decided what questions you are going to ask during your interview and you need to actually conduct the interview.

  • After conducting your interview, do not wait to start writing your paper! Start right away! Also, don’t forget the poster and recipe card too!

  • February 24th: Project due date! Includes the Grandparent Biography, the Immigrant Poster and International Recipe Card.


Late projects will be penalized one full grade for each day it is late. For example if a project is turned in on February 19th, the best grade you could possibly get is a B+ or 89%.
I, ______________________, have read and understand the instructions and policies

(student name here)

outlined in the Grandparent Biography project.


(student signature)


(parent/guardian signature)

Your Name

Description of Heirloom

World Map

Anecdote explaining why my ancestors came to America.

Picture or drawing of heirloom.

United States Map

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