The following was written by editor Kara Fleck and originally appeared in November 2010.
November is here, which means that it won’t be too long before the official start of the holiday season. Families will gather, some of whom we haven’t seen since last year (or perhaps longer). Around holiday tables, families will share stories, remember loved ones no longer with us, and celebrate new generations.
This can also be a time of year for remembering loved ones who are no longer with us. My oldest daughter has been especially interested lately in stories about my husband and I’s grandparents (her great-grandparents) and in the various branches of our family tree.
We’ve been talking with Jillian about things like how her Grandpa Fleck loved peanut butter and how thrifty and creative her great grandparents were. We’ve been discussing personality traits we share and looking at photos and seeing familiar facial features.
We have been making phone calls and sending emails, talking to other family members in an effort to learn as much as we can about what the generations who came before us were like.
I feel like it is important to find out the stories of our family history so that my kids can get to know their ancestors as more than just names, but as people with dynamic personalities whose lives contributed to who we are today.
It has been neat to share and learn these family stories and histories. However, I’m sensing that it isn’t always easy for Jillian to keep track of which family member is from which side of the family or, with so many named after the generation before, which John is which. It can be a little tricky to keep track of all those aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, too.
Family History Projects
I thought it would help with learning who is who, and be fun for all of us, to do some family history projects together.
Here are some family history activities I’m considering:
My Family Tree
My Family Tree from Lapbook Lessons has free printable family-themed mini-books that you can fill out with your child and then compile together into a family free lapbook. There are reading suggestions and a video showing some ideas for putting it all together, too. I think my preschooler
A Unique Family Tree
How to Make a Unique Family Tree is a tutorial from Mila’s Daydreams (one of my favorite blogs) with instructions for making and then taking a beautiful photograph of your family tree. If you go check it out, you’ll see what I mean. I think that three of these, one personalized with each of my kids as the trunk, would be neat to go inside the children’s babybooks. This would also be a neat project to frame and hang up in the family room, too.
I think that this year we’re going to give copies of the journals Grandmother Remembers and Grandfather Remembers to the children’s grandparents and ask them to fill them out for us. I know that I would love to have something like this filled in by my own grandparents (or great-grandparents) and I can see these books becoming very special family heirlooms for the kids, especially once they are grown with children of their own.
Have you done any family history activities with your kids?