Posted by Jessica Latinović on October 16, 2014 in Family History Month, Website

If you didn’t catch our blog last week, we’re hosting a weekly series in October in honor of Family History Month with creative ideas on getting the kids and young adults in your family excited about family history. Today we continue with three new activities you can do with little ones.

1. Little Detectives

Before she was a professional genealogist, Juliana Szucs helped her mother find family surnames on their microfilm reader in the basement. (This was before the days of census indexing and going page-by-page was the only way to find people.) Each family surname she and her sisters found and recorded on an index card earned them $.25. It was then Juliana discovered her passion for family history because of the rush in finding people she was related to, the financial reward was just icing on the cake.

But you don’t have a microfilm reader in your basement? You’re not alone.

Reward your kiddos with money, points or a present when they find a certain source or a family surname in offline documents. For older kids, navigating online might be easier to search across the more than 14 billion records in Ancestry’s database. Having them help in your research and piece together clues as a team will make the story of your family that much more exciting to them.

Parents can also visit the newest Ancestry iOS 6.0 update which was released in September and has exciting features which you can learn more about here.

2. Family Cookbooks

My Mix of Six Family Cookbook
My Mix of Six Family Cookbook

Every three years, my family gathers our favorite recipes and, of course, traditional recipes passed down and compiles a cookbook that is given out at our family reunion.

My great-grandfather’s chipped beef gravy recipe is hands down the family favorite, but it’s not the food on its own but the stories around how this recipe came to be that makes it so special. My great-grandfather was an enlisted man in the Navy with a wife and eight children to support. My great-grandparents resorted to the cheapest of ingredients when cooking for their family, so chipped beef gravy became a staple. My other family favorite is oyster stew on Christmas morning. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I realized not every family ate oyster stew on Christmas mornings. Many people think it’s an odd tradition to have in the first place, but it’s ours and sure enough, I look forward to oyster stew every holiday season.

In this example, blogger Shauna Thompson on My Mix of Six photocopied the original recipe cards her grandmother had handed down to make their family cookbook even more sentimental. I especially love that she included original photos of her grandmother’s kitchen. Check out the photos here.

3. Flash Cards Meets “Peek-A-Boo”

Memory meets peek-a-boo in this DIY spin off. For your visual learners, use existing photographs around the house to help teach little ones how they’re related to different family members.

In this example, No Time For Flash Cards repurposes the tops of diaper wipe containers to make small frames on the wall which open and close so her daughter can identify the family member. Visit this link for how-to instructions on making your own game of peek-a-boo.

Another way to improvise, if you don’t want to tape anything to your walls is to put construction paper over existing family picture frames in your house. The front would have your child’s relationship to the person in the photograph and when they move the construction paper, it reveals who the person is. This would make an easy game that they can revisit over hours or days and they’ll get familiar with who is in the photographs they see throughout your house.

Have more ideas on getting kids excited about family history? Share with us and your idea may be featured in a future post! 

Jessica Latinović

Jessica serves as U.S. Social Media Manager for Ancestry.

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