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Family History Projects for Children

Genealogy is very popular among many adults, but how can librarians/teachers pull together a program without being a genealogist themselves? Here are a few ideas that focus on the ways children can learn an appreciation for their family history.

Photographs
Ask each child to bring a photograph of a family member, or a group of family members. If it is a recent photograph and/or if they are in it, have them write down where it was taken, what the event was, and a story about that day from the photograph. Include who was in the photo and (if there is more than one person) their relationships to each other. If the photograph is old, have the child make up a story about who is in the photograph and what they were like, when they lived, what they did during the day, etc. This type of activity works on observation skills and also allows for creative thinking about what they see.

Family Stories
Ask each child to think about a story that they have been told by a grandparent, parent, or other family member. Or, have each child interview a family member about what it was like when they were a child. Have them write it down and illustrate it. Have them share their story and pictures with the rest of the group.

Family Heirloom Show and Tell
Have the children each bring something from home that has been in the family for awhile. Have them explain what it is and how it was used. Who used to own it? How did they come to have it now? If it is a particularly unusual item, have the rest of the group guess what they think it is. I did this when I was in second grade, no one could guess that what I had was a butter paddle. It was great fun listening to all of the guesses of my classmates and the memory still lives on to this day.

The above ideas are but a few options when discussing family history with children. I have not included pedigree charts, family group sheets and the like because those things can come later on in the child's learning if desired. The most important things a child can take away from their family history are the personal stories that their family members know from their heads. The vital records and other more formal research items will be there. Family members who have information may not be. This is a rule that I suggest adult genealogists follow as well.

Good luck and have fun with it!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Christine Sharbrough. All rights reserved.
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