Making a Family Glyph
An art activity for families touched by adoption or fostering.
Each child will make his/her own glyph.

Have you ever heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words?” A family glyph is a way of telling a story about your family by using pictures and symbols instead of words. Follow these instructions to tell YOUR story, then compare it to glyphs created by other people in your family and to other families’ glyphs.

[Note to parents: Children define family differently at various ages. Younger children may be more concrete and only count the people who live in the home. Older children may want to include birthfamily or extended family on their glyph. Let them explore the idea of family and decide who to include. There’s no right or wrong answer.]


1 piece white or light-colored construction paper for each person
Colored Construction paper


Choose any color crayon and draw the outline of a house on your paper. This house represents your family. It does NOT have to be the same shape, size, style, or color as your actual house.

Chimney: The chimney represents your pets. If you have no pets, draw the outline of the chimney but leave the inside blank. If you have pets, draw one row of bricks on the chimney for each pet you have. Color the rows red for cats, blue for dogs, green for fish (one row can equal as many fish as you own), yellow for any other pet.

Windows: The number of windows represents the number of people in your family, since every person in your family has a different point of view. Using different construction paper, cut out one window for each person in your family. Glue the windows onto the house.

The color of the door represents the way in which you entered your family. If you joined your family through domestic adoption, use a piece of red construction paper to make your door. If you joined your family through international adoption, use a piece of blue construction paper to make your door. If you joined your family through birth, use a piece of green construction paper to make your door. If you joined your family in other ways, use a purple door. Glue the door to the house.

If your family is Jewish, don’t forget to draw a mezuzah on the door. A mezuzah belongs on the righthand side of the door, towards the top, and should tilt in towards the house.

If your family is not Jewish, draw a door knocker on the door.

If your family is both Jewish and not Jewish, include the mezuzah and the door knocker!

Doorknob: The doorknob represents whether you are righthanded or lefthanded. Draw a doorknob on the same side of the door as whichever hand you use to write.

Flowers: The flowers represent the number of children in your family. Draw one flower for each child, using a red crayon for each boy and a yellow crayon for each girl. Do something different (for example, more leaves, a smiley face, different shape petals, etc.) to the flower that represents YOU!

Birds: The birds in the sky represent your age. Draw a bird for each year you have been alive.

Feel free to add any additional decoration to your glyph; then see if someone else can “read” your story and learn a little about your family.

Here are some samples of completed Glyphs...


This project is adapted from an art activity designed for the first annual Forever Families Weekend for Jewish families touched by adoption. For more information about this and other events, please contact Debbie Schwartz, by emailing or follow Debbie on Twitter @ DebbieFFW.


Please contact Carrie Kitze for information on obtaining reprints of this article for pre and post adoption kits and seminars.


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