Genealogy for Kids: part 2

Genealogy for Kids: bring history alive and connect them to their roots

Now that you’ve succeeded in getting your children interested in digging into their roots, here are some tips and fun activities to help you trace your tree.

1. Start with you and work backwards. It is almost a given that you can trace your tree back at least 3 generations to your great-grandparents. After that you have a choice: concentrate on making your tree taller or wider. To make your tree taller, you focus on your direct ancestors, 2nd great grandparents, 3rd great grandparents, etc. To make your tree wider, add in all the children, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins of your grandparents and great-grandparents.

2. Interview all your living family members. Everyone has a story to tell. Your son may learn that his elusive great uncle shares the same birth date and was a chess champion as a boy, or your daughter may learn that her third cousin loves horses and studied ballet as a child. Your children could become life-long friends with far-away relatives. Download some interview questions here. You may want to video tape your interviews as well.

Genealogy for Kids

3. Use the phone book. One time I sent a letter to all the listings of a certain surname that I could find living in the county that I knew my ancestor was buried in. I included a copy of the family tree and asked them if any of the names looked familiar. Sure enough, I got a call and my brick wall was broken. This activity could also teach your kids about formal letter writing.

4. Focus on more than boring name and dates. Collect stories and photographs. Use historical books, fiction and non-fiction, to fill in the gaps.

5. Look up famous family trees. Got a Disney fan? or maybe an Abe Lincoln admirer? Imagine the excitement if you find a common ancestor.

6. Map the trail of an immigrant. Unless you are 100% Native American, you will find dozens of immigrants in your tree. You may have “old school” ancestors who came in colonial times or newer Ellis Island arrivals. Be a detective and try to figure out why they came to America. Read stories about ship life. You would be surprised at the condition in which your ancestors lived and the hardships they endured to obtain a new life. Read more about using maps here and here.

Genealogy for Kids

7. Create a family time capsule to benefit YOUR descendants. Ancient time capsules have been found in Egyptian and Babylonian tombs. Read this article to read more about buying or making your own.

8. Do some crayon rubbings at a cemetery – eerily fascinating for most kids. Searching for a headstone is like going on a treasure hunt. If the headstone is very old or crumbling, it is best to take pictures instead. Older upright headstones can easily fall over or break. Teach respect and responsibility by cleaning up the area around the headstone and maybe even leaving a flower.

9. Walk on the land of your ancestors. With the permission of the current owner, of course. Imagine where their house or barn stood. Think about why they chose that particular land or town. Visit the church that they attended.

10. Most of all, have fun with it! You never know what you’ll find. YOU might even learn that one of your best bloggy friends is actually your cousin!!

My favorite research tools

Genealogy for Kids

Information About Surnames



*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Genealogy for Kids | Milk and Cookies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *