Kids Can Help Create Your Family Tree
Concentrate on making the activities fun, and they probably won't even notice the all-important byproduct: Learning about their family and world history.
Genealogy research is a lot like investigative journalism, so equip your child with the proper tools to accomplish his task: A reporter's notebook and pen (or tape recorder) and press badge. Alternately, you can go the mini private detective route, complete with fedora and magnifying glass.
Amateur genealogist Guillermo Fernandez has been researching his family's history for more than 15 years.
"First, have your child interview their grandparents about their childhoods as well as yours," he says. Next, have him interview you to help fill in any gaps. If your child is shy or unsure, brainstorm questions with him to create a written list as a reference tool.
Fernandez recommends the books "Me and My Family Tree," "Who's Who in My Family?" and "The Kids' Family Tree Book" to help get you started.
Once you have your database of family information, there are a lot of projects you can complete to artfully display your genealogy.
- Create a scrapbook with a page or spread devoted to each family member. Go in chronological order, oldest first, and include photos, vital stats, quotes or comments, as well as other family members' anecdotes about each person.
- Capitalize on your child's computer literacy skills and co-create a genealogical website.
- A family tree quilt is an ambitious endeavor, but not impossible for those with nimble fingers. There are so many ways this can be done; your only limit is your imagination. Perhaps each family member gets a set number of squares for pertinent info, or maybe you embroider the family tree directly on the quilt.
- For the holidays, place photos in individual heirloom-type frames and tie to a Christmas tree using velvet ribbon.
- Planting a tree in a deceased relative's honor is a tangible way for your child to connect with his past.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.