5 family fun projects you can share with your children and learn about your ancestors
When people think about genealogy, they usually imagine adults meticulously researching and identifying people to add to their family trees. Generally, it is not thought of as a family fun project your children will enjoy. There are, however, many areas of genealogy that can be interesting and fun for the entire family.
Family stories, which are the basis of genealogy, get more and more interesting as you get older. When we are young, the role our grandfathers or grandmothers played in the events of their lifetimes pale in comparison to our own fun. For a child, it is usually much more enjoyable to be outside playing or spending time with their friends than it is listening to old stories about people who may no longer be with us.
Older and wiser
Of course, as we age, those stories become more important. They personify the past and make it part of our family’s continuing story. This is the time we usually regret not having paid more attention to our elders as much of our verbal history gets forgotten.
Getting children interested in family history can be rewarding to the entire family. Many genealogical activities are more fun when done as a group. Every member can contribute and every member can share the satisfaction of learning more about their family.
Getting children involved
There are several ways to get children involved in genealogy projects, the real trick is keeping them interested. Historical dates, old photos and obituaries are boring to most children, and you need to stave off the boredom as long as possible to keep them interested.
- Family trees. Creating a family tree gives you an opportunity to keep your history alive while allowing your children to show off their artistic talents. Family trees do not have to be drawn on plain paper, they can be made poster-size, cover an entire wall or even be created electronically. Younger children will enjoy being able to create and update physical projects and older children can be tasked with creating electronic versions of their family tree. By making it an ongoing project, kids can grasp the importance of family while still having fun.
- Old photographs. Photography has been around long enough that every family has old photos lying around. Although the interest level of smaller children might not be very high, older kids can make projects out of sorting and transferring these old photos to digital media.
- Genealogy trips. Everyone comes from somewhere and many of our ancestors moved across the United States as it expanded. Older families will find their names linked with historic sites in the East and Midwest. These sites can be trip destinations to understand the roles that your family members played in those events. Finding your family name on an historic marker or in a museum can be quite a thrill, no matter your age.
- Name meanings. Researching the meaning of your family name is an easy and enjoyable task no matter your age. Creating activities around family names can be fun and pique your child’s interest in genealogy.
- Searching obituaries. Old newspapers are still a major source of information about families. Although many of them have yet to be digitalized, there are many that have. Whether you take a physical trip to search the archives or an internet excursion, one of the best ways to find information about members of your family is to search obituaries.
Genealogy can be a lifelong hobby and interest but it is best to start when you are young. Our older generations pass away and, unfortunately, it is becoming more common that the family information they have isn’t passed on.