Learning about Family History: 6 Children’s Activities

Kids love feeling like they are a part of something, and family is something they will have forever, because family is about more than those you live with--it’s a bond and connection that exists beyond the confines of one home. Learning about other members of the family and the generations that came before them will give your kids a greater sense of belonging and connection. We have put together a list of activities you can do with your kids to help them learn about their family history.

Write to family members

What better way to learn about your family members than actually asking them? Help your kids come up with questions to ask your family members, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or even a distant great-aunt that you haven’t spoken to for a while! Your kids could ask about their childhood, their first jobs, how they met their spouse, their own parents, stories they were told about their family, the places they have lived--the possibilities are endless! By going old school and having your kids write letters, your kids will be able to treasure the letters they receive back for years to come. Your kids can even ask for pictures or small mementos. The information your kids learn about their family history can be used for other activities, too!

Make a timeline

Creating a timeline of your family history is a great way for your kids to visualize time and order of events! First, create a list of important dates in your family history, such as birthdays, wedding days, and other important family events--perhaps even the year that your great-great-great grandfather immigrated to America. Then, have your kids use a poster or simply a sheet of paper to draw a timeline and label the events in chronological order. You can even hang up the finished product on the fridge or in a frame.

Create a photo album

Gather pictures that capture important moments or stages of your child’s life, such as their first day of kindergarten or losing their first tooth. Try to find pictures of other family members as well, going back as many generations as possible. Google your ancestors to see if any pictures pop up. If your child wrote letters and received pictures back from family members, include these photos as well. Then have your child tape the pictures into a photo album--working on fine motor skills while creating a project they will treasure forever!

Draw a family tree

Another great activity that will help your kids visualize family history is creating a family tree diagram. Starting with your child’s name (and their siblings’), draw lines that connect him or her to you and your partner’s names. From there, draw more lines that connect you and your partner with your siblings’ names (and their childrens’) and your parents’. Go back as far as you can! You can also substitute names for small pictures of the family member.

Print off a map and mark where family members live or have lived

This is an awesome way to utilize the information your kid has learned about the family! Find a map (of the United States or North America or the World--depending on your family) and have your child put small stickers on the locations family members currently live (or for past family members, where they had lived the longest). Your kids might be amazed to see where their family has been in the world.

Make a family history “museum”

Gather together meaningful objects or mementos from around your house. From the vase you received from your aunt or the painting commissioned by your grandfather, to the newspaper clipping from your great-grandmother’s hometown paper or your grandmother’s peach jam recipe, the options are vast--just choose ones that mean something to you and have a story behind them! Your kids will love to hear the stories behind the object--and you will have fun reminiscing too!

Building strong family connections helps our kids feel safe and increases their resilience when times are tough. Knowing where their family has been and who they can reach out in times of need to can be vital to ensuring a child feels like they belong. And--retelling old family stories is a fun way to relive the moments that brought us to where we are today!

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