In honor of Family History Month, we’re launching a four-part series for the month with ideas for sharing your passion for family history research with the little ones and young adults in your family. Each week, we will bring you a handful of different activities, with an emphasis on getting crafty and creative.
We hope you’ll treasure the moments you’ll be spending with the younger generations!
1. Cemetery Scavenger Hunt
One thing my friends and family know about me, I love a good scavenger hunt. Why not try this on your next cemetery visit and make it a fun activity that your little ones can participate in?
Our own professional genealogist Crista Cowan likes to take her nephews on tours of her local cemeteries and provides them clues to find their own relatives. Once they discover the correct headstone, she shares who they were, how they’re related and meaningful stories she’s discovered about them. She’s now known among her nephews and nieces as the go-to person they can ask about their family history.
If you’re not sure how to get little ones involved, Climbing My Family Tree provides free printable scavenger hunts for little ones including a chart of symbols, which is helpful for those unable to read. For those older children, there is also a scavenger hunt with a more exhaustive list of symbols they can find around their nearest cemetery.
A trip to the cemetery is also a great opportunity to teach kids about the dos and don’ts of cemetery etiquette. As a reminder, always check with the local cemetery to see what rules they have that are specific to their property. We have a cemetery etiquette guide here as well. And of course, keep a close eye on children at the cemetery to make sure they don’t get injured. Don’t let them lean on markers that may be unsteady and watch for sunken spots and other hazards.
2. Genealogy Glossary
Most kids can easily describe their relation to cousins and grandparents but do they know what words like maternal, paternal or even the sometimes confusing abbreviations they may find common on headstones? Test their knowledge by asking them to describe how they’re related to certain family members and educate them on what words they might find common in family history research. Here’s a genealogical glossary to help you out.
3. Family History Bingo
This is one I plan to play with my 10-year-old sister over the holidays. We will invite my younger cousins to come over and join in the action. Create a bingo card with up to five columns and five rows. You can easily do more but be sure to make the card larger or better yet, make multiple bingo cards for multiple players! Then put the names of all pictured family members into a bowl and call out names until someone gets everyone in a row, column, or diagonally.
See this example here:
- We recommend using close up photos so kids can easily make out who is in the photo and also make sure the photos at the same sizes like the example above.
- Use coins, cereal, or round paper cut outs to use in lieu or bingo markers so you don’t ruin your beautiful cards.
- Not especially savvy with designing bingo cards? Here’s a great family bingo template we found.
- To really motivate the kiddos, make it a points or rewards based game where they win something at the end.
We hope you’ll find these ideas helpful and put them into action with your family. Please share your family’s take on these and other Family History Month activities in the comments section, or share a photo with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Happy Family History Month!