Many people would like to know about their heritage. Knowledge of their ancestors gives children a sense of belonging and their place in the world. Besides that, family history provides a good opportunity for children to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
Even simple activities may turn into an interesting lesson of family history if planned out properly. And there is no shortage of ways, you can engage your kids in family history. From making your own family tree to visiting some meaningful locations for your family.
Here are some activities to involve kids in family history:
- Tell Stories and Share Legacy
- Use Coloring Pages
- Involve Entertainment
- Create Personal Histories
- Go on a Historical Trip
- Teach with Food
- Create a Family Tree
1. Tell Stories and Share Legacy
Obviously, the easiest way to help your children discover your family history is to tell them stories and share photographs with them. Children need more than just dates and facts. History should be presented in interesting and memorable ways. Fill your story with unusual facts and humorous details that will catch your kids’ imagination.
Having something that once belonged to your ancestors is a definitely powerful experience. Heirlooms make the past come alive. Most of us keep heirlooms and photographs around the house so that they could serve as reminders about your ancestors.
It can be something as simple as your father’s watch. Not to mention a long tradition of passing jewelry from mother to daughter. These objects carry our greatest sentiments and have great value, due to the stories of generations that they carry.
2. Use Coloring Pages
Coloring is one of the favorite activities for any child. It could be a good starting point in your kids’ ancestry research. In fact, it is a simple way to explain stories to your kids about your ancestry while still having fun. An image representing family traditions, such as a place or ethnic clothing, could be a good tool to explain your family customs and traditions.
When children are able to visualize what they are hearing, they make connections and easily remember what they’ve heard.
3. Involve Entertainment
Games and puzzles can be used to tell about an adventure an ancestor had experienced. There are many games to choose from, for example, crossword puzzles, fallen phrases, letter tiles, cryptograms, etc. You can customize them by using your family facts.
Besides that, the toys our ancestors played with are easy to make. Button and paper dolls, kites, whirligigs, and paper airplanes, are just a few examples. Playing games is a fun way to make a family story come to life.
Movies and music from the past are another great way to educate children about their ancestors. You can watch some old movies that portray certain periods in history. Or you might teach your kids old songs or some of the dance steps of your ancestors.
4. Create Personal Histories
Help your kids create their own histories. They could keep a journal, create a scrapbook or a photo album.
Create prompts and questions to discuss. They don’t have to belong or extremely thought out. Journal prompts will help your kids use their imagination. If you need some help to start writing, you can search for some ideas on the internet. These prompts can get deeper as your kids grow, asking them to explain or share experiences, or even setting goals for them.
A simple jar filled with clues makes journal writing easy and, when left in a visible place, serves as a reminder of an available activity to do in spare time.
5. Go on a Historical Trip
Many children like trips. So arrange a trip across the country or to a specific city where your ancestors lived or worked. Or you can visit museums or historically recreated villages to show your kids how their ancestors lived. Remember to make these trips fun for your kids.
6. Teach with Food
Food is a big part of holidays and family celebrations. Make a dish according to your ancestor’s recipe. Whatever it is, a meatloaf or an apple pie, food that was popular in your family can become an interesting variation on your diet.
There are often dishes associated with specific places of origin. Teach your kids a favorite family recipe and regularly include it in your diet. Provide instructions on how it is prepared and eaten and, perhaps, some history on the origin of the meal.
7. Create a Family Tree
Create a family tree to make studying family history really fun for kids. They can not only learn their family history but also develop designer skills. Building your family tree will help your kids further understand how they are included in the family community.
You can begin with a photo-only family tree and step by step add more personal information about every family member. Include such information as names, dates of birth, birthplaces, marriages, etc. This will help you visualize your family history. Plus, your kids will be able to share it with their friends and schoolmates.
Today, the kids are tech-savvy, so it might be a good idea to use digital tools since they can pick it up faster. Tools like Treemily allow you to create your own family tree and involve your children in its design. The process is easy: you just choose one of the templates and then modify your family tree to your taste.
Even such simple activities can become a powerful teaching tool for your kids. Certainly, children are different and what fascinates one child may not interest another. You can try various activities depending on your kid’s personality and interests.
Educating children about their ancestors can help them discover more about their identity and open up a new world into other cultures and traditions. Create a family tree with your kids and don’t let your family history slip away without teaching it to your children.