Monday, November 30, 2015

29 Fun Ways to Excite Your Family with Family History

Fun Ways to Get

Your Family into Family History

1. Tell your children the stories of your childhood. Help them see their ancestors as real

people by inviting grandparents and other family members to share their personal life

2. Plan an evening meal around a traditional food from someplace an ancestor lived, i.e.

Irish corned beef and cabbage, German sauerbraten, Italian gnocchi, Mexican

enchiladas, Native American wild rice and cranberries, Louisiana jambalaya or

Maryland-style crabcakes.

3. Using a map of the United States and US Census records (or a pedigree chart), trace

the migration of ancestors from state to state. Have little ones color in the states

where their ancestors lived.

4. Experience what life was like for your ancestors before homes had electricity. Don’t use

anything electrical for 24 hours (but be sure to keep your refrigerator and freezer

5. Create a “Who Am I?” family history trivia game with questions that can only be

answered by searching your pedigree chart.

6. Show your child photos of her ancestors and talk to her about characteristics she might

have inherited from an ancestor, such as red hair, freckles, or bushy eyebrows.

7. Help an older child or teenager locate an ancestor in a US Census between 1880 and

1940. Ask him questions about that person’s occupation, birthplace, education,

immigration date, etc.

8. Take your family on a “Family History Field Trip” to places where your ancestors lived

or worked. Or download googleearth and fly off to visit those places.

9. Visit cemeteries in person or online at and and see how

many ancestors’ graves you can find.

10. Research historical events that took place during your ancestors’ lives. Talk about how

those events might have impacted them.

11. Include your children in a dramatic presentation of an event from your own or an

ancestor’s life. Make simple costumes to make it more fun.

12. Print an online template and create a jigsaw puzzle from an ancestor’s photo or a

favorite family photo.

13. Make a time capsule. Place various items that are important to you and your family (i.e.

a family photo, a movie ticket, school papers, family artwork, etc) in a sturdy box. Set

a date to open it but don’t forget where you hid it.

14. Print a fan chart from and turn it into a puzzle. Help your

children match each person with their parents.

15. Research the meaning of each family member’s given name. Find out if your name had

particular importance to your parents. If you were named after an ancestor, find out

more about that person.

16. Create a “Family Faces Bingo” game with photos of ancestors and family members or

simply write the name of an ancestor in each square.

17. Find out what your ancestors might have done for fun where they lived 100 years ago,

such as square dancing or pulling taffy.

18. Make a “Matching Game” for younger children by making two copies of 15 or 20 family

pictures. Add names to the “Matching Game” cards to create a game of “Go Fish.”

19. Do a little research and find out how to make your own butter or soap. Use this for a

family home evening activity.

20. Create a picture pedigree chart by placing a small photo by each ancestor’s name.

21. Celebrate with food by making Grandma’s apple pie or Papa’s famous meatloaf. Talk

about their lives as you enjoy their recipes.

22. Print a blank pedigree for your child and help her fill it out, starting with herself.

Make a simple frame and hang it in her room.

23. Visit a grandparent or another older family member and have an older child or teen

conduct a family history interview.

24. Help your child create a timeline for the life of one of his ancestors.

25. Visit and involve your children in creating a Family Website

where you can share photos, recipes, gift lists, etc. with close and extended family

26. Help your children research the meaning and ethnic origin of their surname or those of

27. Help your scout-age son fulfill the requirements necessary to earn his Genealogy Merit

Badge. Or help your Cub Scout complete the family tree activity.

28. Enter the names of your ancestors into Google Books at ( You

might be surprised by what you find.

29. Bring your family to the Family History Center and travel through time as you look for

your ancestors in some of the premium websites available there for free.