As you make the family tree, make note of social trends, such as: # of children (or remaining childless), marriage, divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, single parenthood, and living alone/remaining single. Other things to pay attention to: age of marriage and childbearing, educational attainment, women in workforce, social class (intergenerational mobility), interracial families, and gay/lesbian families. (You can make this as detailed or simple as you would like)
I paired this activity with the Contexts article “Families” by Tey Meadow and Judith Stacey from 2006.
If you plan on having students write papers or reflect on their own families throughout the course, this is good way for them to visualize patterns within their own families and compare them to trends in the U.S.