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Fun Ways to Explore Your Family and the Past

by Tania Cowling | September 10th, 2014 | Elementary, Social

file0001890902985How well do your children know their relatives? Do your kids ever ask about your parents? Do they want to know about ancestors a few generations past? Children seem to be the best believers in the extended family concept. As the kids get older, they can grasp the idea of the family tree and how it relates to them. I love the idea of connecting my children to relatives (near and far) and to past relatives that meant so much to our family. Photos seem to be the easiest method of recognition, but here are some other ways kids can play with the past and become little genealogists.

Set Up Family Interviews

This is a fun project for elementary-aged children to get to know their grandparents and favorite aunts and uncles. It also uncovers clues to your family lineage. Brainstorm with your child about the types of questions he wants to ask. For example, “Do you have a nickname? Where and when were you born? What is your favorite childhood memory? Did you like school and why? Is the world different than when you were a child? Tell me about days in your home.” These are only a few of many questions to ask. You can type or print these on paper and make copies for family members to write their answers, or send the questions through email. When your child gathers all the interviews, place them into a scrapbook. These special interviews are priceless and a way to pass family history to your child.

Make a Paper Family Quilt

I first did this project when I was teaching school and then passed the idea to my children at home. The quilt square template (a sheet of construction paper) includes four simple shapes that encircled a photo in the center. On the shapes, have your child write down special information about that family member. You can include the person’s name and how they are related, birthdays, where they live, if it’s an aunt or uncle, add the names of their children (cousins), what they do for a job, and so on. After you make a few templates representing family members, attach these with tape or glue to a large poster board. Then invite your child to use a black felt-tip pen to add faux stitches. Display this project on the wall for all to see!

Play With the Past Using Material Items

Have you found a few mementos that remind you of grandma, grandpa, or a relative from long ago? Check out the attic or garage for items from your past. Place some items that have been passed down to you around the house to remind your children of their relatives. If you have clothing or hats from days gone by, let the kids play dress up from family items that will remind you of special people. This is a good time to tell stories to your children about these relatives and what they were like.

These are only a few ways to keep history alive in your home. If you have some projects, why not leave us a comment below with your ideas?

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