Monday, July 22, 2013

Fun Genealogy Activities for Children

A few days ago (Thursday) I had the opportunity to share some ideas about getting young children interested in family history and genealogy. As usual I had more ideas than time so I plan on sharing some of my thoughts here (over a period of time).

One thing I learned is that there is not a whole lot available on-line and some of it was not really for children. Some things that looked interesting had broken links.

The main thought I shared right at the start was keep any activities short and fun. Most children have short attention spans (as do many adults nowadays). It is also good to ask them what they would like to learn. This part would be useful after introducing the subject.

Children often like gory details so a trip to a cemetery can be fun IF the adult chaperones keeps their own anxieties about "dead bodies rising out of the graves and becoming zombies" to themselves :)

Some cemetery ideas
Get permission ahead of time to do grave marker rubbings.
Count the number of headstones with the same surname.
Count the number of baby headstones
Take photographs of fancy inscriptions
Find the oldest head stone
Find the oldest dead person
Scavenger hunt - you will have to work out ahead of time what you want the kids to look for e.g. specific letters of the alphabet, fruit carvings, skull and crossbows.
Bird watching
Get permission to tidy up some plots - i.e. pull weeds
Find out if there are historical cemetery tours geared toward children.
Did your family live close to the cemetery - take photographs of the house. We did this one when we visited Scotland. My children had a great time looking at the family headstones and visiting the houses of the people mentioned.

If you decide to go at night remember to take flashlights. You can stand around an ancestors grave and look at the stars. They may have looked at the same ones all those years ago.

Rainy day activity
Instead of a visit to a cemetery go on-line to and ask your children to find a deceased relative. Some names have photographs and obituaries, other just dates. You never know it may take them on a journey of discovery and they can share the information with other relatives.