Finding new and exciting things to do with your children can be challenging. However, there are unique ways to spend family time that are fun and educational. One way is to assist your children in developing an interest in the history of your family. This is something my boys are keen on doing after watching Who do You Think You Are?
When children spend time learning about their family history, they gain a different perspective of their own world. A child’s perspective is very self-centered. This is not a bad trait for children, but opening their worlds to the diversity of their family will help them open their minds to the diversity of the world. Learning about the history of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and other ancestors also allows them to further understand their importance in this large universe of people that make up their family. Once children understand the parameters of their universe, they gain so much more by learning the stories associated with their ancestors.
Although family histories can sometimes be mundane and include rudimentary information, there are usually some very exciting and interesting stories that can be learned about previous generations. So, how do you get your children interested in family history? There are many ways to accomplish this goal. One way is through the use of games. There are games specifically designed to encourage storytelling. Many games include questionnaire cards that prompt conversation regarding different issues, subjects or experiences.
You can design your own game of sorts by beginning with the information that you already possess. Begin by writing down the names of your immediate family members, focusing on last names. When you research last name origin of family members, your children can learn a lot about where the family originated. This process of gathering names can be a fun, artistic venture.
You and your children can create family tree charts. You can find some starter charts at a variety of craft stores. These charts are part of kits that contain pre-drawn trees that your children will fill with written names or with some awesome decorative add-ons to represent family members. Some add-ons may be in the form of leaves that children can paste onto the tree; some may even include extra branches that can be used to extend the tree as you learn more information about your family.
If you have a spare wall and don’t mind being extremely creative, you can purchase decorative tree decals which can be applied to the wall. Once applied, you and your children can add pictures of family members in order of generations. The older generations would begin at the trunk of the tree. The branches are reserved for younger family branches that extend from the trunk of the tree. This activity brings your family history project to life in a fun way.
Family history is about the life and death of ancestors. A very delicate but important aspect of family history for children is learning about death in a way that is comfortable for them. One way to make this aspect of family and life a little easier to deal with is to introduce your children to the cemetery. A fun way to do this is to have a scavenger hunt. You can teach your children about proper behaviour when visiting a cemetery. Activities at a cemetery will also teach them that it is not a scary place but a place for respect and reflection. Time spent at the cemetery will dispel the notion of its being a place that is not to be visited except during funerals. During your scavenger hunt, your children can look for unique names on headstones, interesting monuments and different types of burial tributes.
A wonderful tribute to your ancestors is simply teaching your children about their history through, stories, last name origin research, family tree charts, and scavenger hunts. Learning about the people who lived generations prior to their existence will be interesting, educational and exciting. The experience of learning about the people who are older than they are and still living will enrich their lives and broaden their perspectives.