It’s rewarding compiling a family tree. But what’s the point if there’s no one to share it with? It is difficult at best trying to capture younger family member’s attention with video games, television, etc. as a distraction. Talk about the family history and you may get a yawn. Or, your teenage kids will roll their eyes and say “This is BORING!!! Can’t we do something FUN????”
I remember as a child how I loved to go through my Mom’s hope chest. It was filled with all kinds of cool stuff covering three generations. They ranged from items that my grandparents owned to our school stuff. Each item had it’s significance. They may not have been of much monetary value, but they were important to the family in some way.
Why not try exploring your heritage with your kids this month? The difficult part will be picking a project that will grab them. It’s up to you to find something that your kids will enjoy. (Or, let them select the project.) Maybe it’s a trip to a place of importance to the family, a craft project, history project, story telling, looking at old stuff, or something else. Whatever you chose, this is quality time spent with the kids. Let them know they are important to the family history. They may not admit it, but you might just create a few sparks that will become a fire later in life–ah, another addicted genealogist! Ha!
Project Ideas For Week #3
1. Spend an afternoon sharing family stories. Share the funny ones as well as the serious. Have on hand photographs of the people in the stories to help your children visualize who the stories are about.
2. Bring out family heirlooms or other items owned by your family. Spend time showing these to your children and explaining each items significance. This can be anything from jewelry that has been handed down, religious documents, school report cards, or other things that belonged to family members. They don’t necessarily have to be “big deal” items. (For instance, I found my step-great grandfather’s flight log record book–I didn’t even know he was learning to fly an airplane!)
3. Do you have your baby book, your child’s, your mother or father’s? Pull those books out, dust ’em off, and share them with the kids. Kids love going through these books especially if someone took the time to fill them in. I have my father’s. It’s full of drawings he drew as a child, names my Grandma was thinking of naming him, and other family facts.
4. Did your ancestor have a favorite song, poem, or story, etc.? Get copies to share with your kids. The Internet can come in handy for this one! Song lyrics and words to poems can be found everywhere on the web. If you aren’t sure what their favorites were, use the Internet to locate the favorites of the day. These family favorites give you a feel for the times your ancestors lived in. If you like, you can make a journal with family favorites–past and present.
5. Take a trip to a place of importance to your family history. This could be a trip to the neighborhood your, your parents, or grandparents grew up in, a church where many family marriages took place, a cemetery where ancestors are buried, a park where the family spent Sunday afternoons, a historic place like a battlefield or landmark that your ancestor has some connection to, or any number of places. It is a wonderful feeling to stand where your ancestors once stood.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com