Are you dealing with school closures and anxious kids? A solution might be in your past. Family history isn't just educational, it has powerful emotional benefits for children.
A study out of Emory University concluded that children who know their family history are more resilient and tend to do better when facing challenges later in life. Learning stories of how their ancestors overcame hardships and difficulties, helps kids recognize that people can triumph over adversity.
And that positive influence goes for the entire family. In his book, The Secrets of Happy Families, Bruce Feiler found that families that regularly shared their family history and stories were stronger and happier units.
When kids dig for their roots, it's an educational journey like no other. It involves integrating subjects like reading, math, social studies, history, geography, language studies, science, art and more.
And kids love Family History because it's about their favorite subject -themselves!
Here are a few of my favorite at-home family history activities for kids of all ages. If you would like to see your activity featured here, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating family flashcards is a great way for kids to learn about their relatives and how they are related. For the younger kids, these flashcards can be as simple as a photo and name. Using flashcards like these, my four-year-old niece showed up at Thanksgiving and was able to identify all the relatives and how they were related, even those she had never met. She felt right at home before even arriving.
For older children, put family history facts on the back and make it a game. Place them on rings to take them on the go.
See more at ... Growing Little Leaves
Handed down generation to generation, family recipes are part of our heritage. Whatever your family’s food traditions might be, take some time to make them, share them, and record them so they aren't lost.
Get cooking here at... Family Recipes & Cookbooks - Dish Up Some Family History
This activity helps kids connect with their ancestors and their stories. Have your kids locate pictures of their ancestors at similar ages or in similar poses. Put them in chronological order from the oldest first and ending with the child. Scan the final result and you have a great photo collage to frame or share on Facebook. Discuss the ancestors in photos. Added bonus, you will get some of your family photos organized and digitized.
Read more at... Make History
Create your own Family Tree Stack to learn more about your ancestors! Turn it into a fun game and have family members race to see who can build their family the fastest.
Get crafting at... Family Tree Stack.
Many of these books are available at your local library or on amazon.com.
Pre-Teens & Teens (8-12)
There are lots of ways to create a family tree. Country Living magazine has 12 ideas you can try, even if you didn't get the creative gene. Some are suitable for kids to do alone, others would be a great family project.
Grow your family tree at ... 12 Family Tree Ideas You Can DIY
Combine reading with a craft! Based on the book The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, this activity is a wonderful way to encourage creativity, while also offering a great opportunity to discuss family heritage.
Get crafty with your family tree at... BuggyandBuddy.com
Discover the history of heraldry and family crests. When did the start? What do the symbols mean? Kids learn about history as they find their own family crest or create their own.
Great for older children, the web series “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” follows 13 young people at a new genetics and genealogy camp as they use science to answer the question “Who am I?” Inspired by the popular PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and shot on the campus of Penn State University, campers explore their own family history and DNA ancestry with techniques never before used in an educational setting.
Tune in at... Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings
What is the oldest object in your home? How did it get there and why is your family saving it? Finding the answer to these questions can put your kids in touch with family history and help them discover how much of our past lies hidden in "old things." Children first examine pictures of household objects from the late 20th century and gather historical information about them from older family members, then create an exhibit of historical objects or family heirlooms. Take pictures and share online!
Get started on your family history exhibit at... My Piece of History
If your ancestors had left a time capsule, what would have been in it? Pick an ancestor from a time period you find interesting, and try to create a snapshot of his or her life. This is a good activity to do with your parents, grandparents or any relative who knows something about your family’s genealogy, so they can help you with information about your actual ancestors.
Read more at... Create a Time Capsule (in reverse)
With school closures in effect Ancestry has made their AncestryK12 lesson plans available for FREE. The lesson plans target a number of core subjects, with educational topics ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. They have been written by teachers according to the History Standards administered by the National Center for History in the Schools at the UCLA.
Check out the lesson plans and resources at... AncestryK12.
Do you have an activity to share? Email me at email@example.com.