Friday, December 2, 2016

Making Family History Fun for the Kids

Fun? When was the last time you heard someone say family history was fun? If you have worked with some people beginning their research you might have heard them exclaim how much fun it was when they found a new record. But generally, people who aren't doing family history consider it a boring task, best left to the retired members of the family and definitely not for the children. What if I could tell you some ways to make family history research fun for your children? Would you try them? I hope so.

With the holidays upon us, there are many opportunities for family gatherings. These are the perfect setting to add family history to the discussion. Many of us are planning on travelling and need activities for the children to do during the long trips.

One activity you can prepare are word search puzzles. There are many online sites that help you develop your own word search puzzles. Discovery Education has a great word search generator. You can enter in words or names of your ancestors and it creates a puzzle. Below, you can see a puzzle I created using some general words that we run across during our research but you can use any variety of words to make it interesting for you and your children.

Word Search Puzzle from Discovery Education

Did you ever play Car Bingo when you were a kid? If you did, you probably remember finding license plates or road signs with the words or numbers you were searching for to fill in your Bingo card. Now, you can create your own Bingo cards with information about your family history by visiting the BingoBaker or the TeachingStuff website. Just fill in the squares with information that your children may find as you travel and connect it to your family history. In the example below I have included a few dates, places and names that they may find on license plates, signs, or other things they will see.

Example of Bingo Cards from TeachingStuff website

Do you have a bunch of family photos sitting around? Maybe you can create a matching game or jigsaw puzzle from copies of the pictures (don't use the originals). For the matching game you can make duplicate copies of the photos and attach them to card stock paper to make them sturdier. Shuffle the pictures and place them face down and have your child pick the matches. You can make it more difficult by using two different pictures of the same person as the marching cards. As your child picks up a card and turns it face up you can tell them who it is and maybe a short story to help them recognize the photo. Jigsaw puzzles are easy to make. All you have to do is enlarge a copy of a photo and glue it to a hard backing then cut it into interlocking pieces. If you want to get elaborate with this, you can attach the photo to a thin piece of wood and use a jigsaw blade to cut pieces.

How about 20 questions? As your child becomes familiar with their ancestors you can start playing 20 questions. One person thinks of an ancestor and the other asks yes or no questions to try to figure out who it is.

In today's world, kids are used to video games and the electronic world. It could be interesting to show them games that you played as a child, or games that their grandparents played. Get them outside after the meals and play freeze tag, follow the leader, or hide and seek. If the weather isn't suitable you can stay inside and play jacks, checkers, or hot and cold. I am sure you have your favorite games from your childhood that you can teach to the kids.

There are so many ways to work family history into your children's activities. Take the opportunity to learn more about your family history and pass it along to your children in a way that they will enjoy.

1 comment:

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!