Learning about our heritage doesn’t have to start when we are adults. Yes, sure we check countless sources, turning every stone for a clue that can tell us something about our family history. So, is genealogy for kids or is it just a hobby for grown-ups?
Well, of course, children can share their passion for genealogy.
After all, it is a hobby that can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age you are.
Let me show you in this post what activities children can do.
First of all just what is genealogy?
Before you begin any activity that is discussed in this post you may first want to ask your kids just what is genealogy?
And for that matter what is family history?
Please watch this!
Check out the following short video and see what these kids think about this wonderful hobby.
Their response could very well surprise you. You just don’t know what goes on in their little minds sometimes.
Difference between genealogy and family history!
There is a difference of course between them and I will keep it short and simple. Genealogy is all about names, details, and facts about your ancestors.
Family history on the other hand is the stories behind them.
However, most people will refer to genealogy as the collection of all of this information about our ancestors that includes the details as well as the stories.
For us, it’s great when we discover anything about our family tree but it’s the stories that make it so much enjoyable for our children.
That is what inspired me to research my ancestry.
So how you can get your children interested in genealogy?
Activities for the kids:
1. Tell Your Family Stories
I became fascinated with my family history because of my father. When I was younger my brothers and I would sit down in awe while we listened to all of these fantastic stories and anecdotes.
It was quite unbelievable just how much my father would recite. We would sit for hours just listening soaking up all the stories.
Learning to appreciate my family history!
My father would talk for hours telling us about both his father’s and mother’s side of the family. There were so many ancestors to talk about!
As I grew older I never tired of hearing these stories over, and over, and over again. But with increased age, I learned how to value them.
I knew that these stories would need to be recorded before it was too late. They had been passed down through the generations to us.
Some of them date to the 1700s.
And through time stories do get forgotten and details get changed.
So, it would be best to record them before my memory faded and I may incorrectly recall a story.
Tell your children their family history!
I have digressed from what I wanted to say but I did want to tell you how family stories made me appreciate both my ancestry and where I came from.
To help tell the story of your ancestors why not go through old family photographs. Not only can they see who you are talking about but they can then connect the stories to the person.
Doing this makes it so much enjoyable, trust me I know! It gives your child something to have in their hand and look at. And also to relate to as well.
Photographs and heirlooms are great too!
But you don’t have to stop at photographs.
Why not show your children your family’s heirlooms?
Tell them the story behind these family treasures and who also they belonged to.
So, you could talk about your grandfather’s war medals for example.
Tell them where he was deployed to, what wars and battles he may have been in, and maybe what life was like for the family that he had to leave behind.
Besides war medals, you may have letters or documents, an old family bible, jewelry, coins, and even furniture as well.
If you do have any family heirlooms that have been passed on to you then why not tell your children the story behind them?
Where are your family’s stories?
Now knowing what you can talk about why not make it more fun and explore your home to find these stories.
Your heirlooms may be up in the attic or down in the basement. Who knows?
Do you know where your family’s stories are?
Maybe have a look around your home and jot down on some paper everything that you find and can talk about.
And then the adventure of family history can begin.
2. Cook Old Family Recipes
Family history doesn’t just have to be about the stories, photographs, and family heirlooms. It can be about other things as well.
Do you have old recipe books that you still own?
Well, then why not get them out and bond with your children by cooking these meals?
Did you cook with your parents growing up?
You probably did. Chances are that these old family recipes were written in a book, or maybe they were put down on bits of paper.
Like stories, these recipes could have been passed down through the generations. Or they may be more modern and just come from your parents.
Either way, collect what recipes you have and see which ones that you can cook with your children.
You may want to make it more fun for your kids and ask them what they would like to make.
But what if they weren’t written down?
The sad thing about family history as I have mentioned before is that it will get lost in time if it is not recorded.
So, if the only place where these recipes are kept in your head then please write them down now.
You may though have forgotten some ingredients or measurements. But please don’t let that stop you.
It could make the cooking more enjoyable as you try different quantities and ingredients, just so that you can get it right.
Hey, you may even put a new twist on an old family favorite!
You can have your cake and eat it too!
After the meal, (or cake), has been made you can then sit down with your children and bond.
Talk not only about whose recipe you cooked but also whether they enjoyed making the meal as well.
You could even ask them if they would like to try different ingredients. It doesn’t hurt to add your spin on them.
It doesn’t have to end there though.
Not only can you collect your old family recipes but new ones as well.
Ask your children what meals that they would like to be included in the book.
3. Write A Personal History
It is never too young to write your history. Your children have heard stories of their ancestors, but what about their stories?
Not only can family history be about the past but the present as well. After all, you want something from our life and experiences to be passed down to our descendants.
How can my children record their personal history?
A journal is a great way for your children to record everything and anything important to them right now in their lives.
They can write down what school they go to, who their friends are, what activities they like doing and so on.
Ask your kids what their stories are.
They don’t have to stop there of course!
Create more than just memories!
To make this activity even more interesting, and more rewarding, they could take photos as well.
They could then choose their photo album to put them into.
Another idea is to help them create a scrapbook. These can be very visual.
Not only can they include photos but you can ask your children to write a story to go along with each of them. They don’t have to be long stories.
So, not only have you gone through your old family photographs and told a story about your ancestors, but your children can do the same.
Just this time it’s their story!
Want to help them along?
There are many different kinds of family history book templates that you can purchase.
These books will make it easier for you as the pages already include charts and questions that can be asked about your family history.
There are even sections where you can add newspaper snippets or old family recipes. And it doesn’t stop there!
So, if you haven’t already researched your family tree but are interested then why not buy a family history book template.
These are great books where you don’t have to think about what should you include.
You just fill in the blanks and record as much family history as you can.
When your book does arrive then work on filling the pages as a family.
4. Let Them Go Exploring!
Getting to know your family history doesn’t have to mean that you have to stay at home. You could go out of your four walls and take your children to explore their ancestry.
By that I mean they could come along with you as you get your ancestors’ records, visit where your ancestors grew up, or even the cemetery where they were buried.
These activities though I feel would be best suited to older children.
When you have told your old family stories to your kids and they have shown an interest then please take them places.
Just like me, I became interested in genealogy because of the stories that my father passed down to me.
And as I grew older I would learn more and more about my ancestors by visiting where they originally came from and where they worked.
And yes I even visited cemeteries to see where they were buried!
My Final Thoughts
First of all, let me say that genealogy has no age limit. We can all be interested in our ancestors no matter what age we are.
We could be in our retirement years, in our 30s or 40s, or even in elementary school. It doesn’t matter how old we are.
There is a reason why genealogy is the second most popular pastime in the United States, (and maybe the world even).
And that it is accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
What more can you do?!
I have discussed various ways that you could get your children involved in family history.
There are of course many more ways but I thought that I would just share four of my favorite ones.
You could though check out the Mad About Genealogy site where Linda Elliott talks about Getting Children Interested in Genealogy.
Why not draw your family tree, maybe do an online search, and put all the research together?
If you can think of any other activities then please comment below. I would be very interested to hear how your children have shown an interest in their genealogy.
The Genealogy For Kids post was mentioned on an episode of Extreme Genes!
Episode 216 – Sunday, November 26, 2017
I was pleased to hear that The Genealogy Guide was mentioned briefly on an episode of Extreme Genes.
Credit: Extreme Genes
These guys are experts in the field so it was a real thrill to them mention my site and this post about getting kids interested in genealogy.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope this genealogy for kids post was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
Please share with family and friends if you think this post will help others by using the social media buttons below.