Before the end-of-the-year holiday madness descends, Thanksgiving gatherings offer a perfect opportunity for genealogists (including the youngest family members) to share the family tree and gather new information. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Ask the kids to interview the family elders about their favorite holiday or childhood memories. Use audio, video or just plain paper and pen. The young ones can draw pictures to illustrate the story or act it out to share the story with the entire group.
- Invite everyone to bring their favorite family photos. Let the family “techie” get involved by scanning and sharing them with the family digitally. Make sure to “tag” the photos with names!
- If your family tree isn’t up-to-date, collect names and dates for the newest members.
- Create a family trivia game. Include questions about family members, alive or deceased, their accomplishments, favorite things, occupations or birthplaces.
- Spread out a large sheet of paper or hang a poster board on the wall and let the kids try to draw the family tree. The adults can provide clues when needed. Or, print off some blank family tree charts and have a contest to see who can fill in the most names. You can find free outlines designed for kids online from Scholastic.com and Obituarieshelp.org. Have a non-traditional family? Use charts without pre-printed labels or draw your own.
- Create a family timeline - note births, deaths and other significant family events. Throw in some historical events to add that all-important context.
- Collect health family history. Each year since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their families.
- Maybe your holiday plans include celebrations with friends and not family. You can still get in the spirit by sharing favorite hoiday memories, traditions or favorite recipies. Have each guest create a scrapbook page and bind them together for a wonderful keepsake for the host.
Family Search has more ideas for family activities and games for all ages. Send us a comment and let us know about your favorite holiday family history activities. We’d love to hear from you.