Learn About Family History

Researching your family's history and background together is a fun and educational way to teach your child all about their genealogy and roots.

Exploring your family's history and background can be a fun and rewarding way to spend time with your loved ones.Kids and adults alike can enjoy a variety of activities based on learning more about their ancestors.

A simple project that can be modified to work for kids of all ages is a family tree.For younger children, work together to create a tree that includes parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, and any other relatives with whom your child is close.

First, draw a diagram of the tree.Start with the eldest family members at the top and "branch" them down to show various descendents and relatives, using smaller branches to identify relationships such as "uncle" or "sister".Depending on the age of the child(ren) with whom you're working, make the tree either less or more elaborate and detailed.

For the next step, you'll need craft materials such as construction paper, crayons, colored pencils, glue, glitter, markers and other favorite art supplies.Designing the tree is a big part of the fun.Working together to create art is such a great way to spend time with your family members, and it allows everyone to show their creativity and express themselves.

For older kids, studying family history and genealogy is a good way to hone their research skills and learn different means of finding out about a topic in which they are interested.Today's student is often very Internet oriented.While there is indeed a wealth of information available online for the budding genealogist, it is really just one way to research family history.

Encourage your child to use other sources as well, such as family pictures, letters, records and documents that may have been forgotten in storage.If circumstance allows, you can even take a family trip to a small town courthouse in search of an ancestor's birth certificate, or make a visit to a village church to check out their archived marriage records.

Kids can also talk to older relatives about their memories and thoughts regarding the past and what life was like when they were younger.This is a wonderful way to start a dialogue with your youngster about how the way that people live, work, and play has changed over the years.For example, how did your child's great grandmother prepare meals?How did her family get from place to place?What was school like for kids who lived in the earlier part of the century?

If age-appropriate, you can also use this activity to talk with your child about your family's heritage, and how being from a certain background or of a certain religion may have impacted the decisions your forebearers made and the choices they had.For example, many of the original American settlers immigrated to this country to escape religious persecution. Others simply came in pursuit of a better life.

Many African-Americans were brought to America as a result of slavery.Native American families were displaced and their way of life eventually destroyed when the settlers arrived.Every family has a unique story.If possible, discuss with your child how, when, and why your family came to the United States, and illustrate how your own ancestors' experiences fit into the larger context of history as a whole.

No matter which activity you choose, learning about your family's history together will be fun and educational for everyone involved.

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