Ancestry and Genealogy Activities for Kids of All Ages
Uncovering our ancestry is not only a link to the past, but it can also be a key to our future. This is especially true for kids and teens who see family history as somewhat of a mystery. Our identities as families influence our identities as individuals—and that can be a really powerful connection for kids and teens to make, especially as they struggle through one of the toughest identity periods in life. When it comes to feeling comfortable and confident with being who we are, learning about genealogy can help your kids find validation and inspiration at an early age.
Looking for fun ways to engage kids in discovering their family history? We have ancestry activities for kids of all ages.
Genealogy Activities for Young Children
Make a Grandparent Pyramid: Help your kids understand their ancestry while also developing fine motor skills. This three-dimensional, interactive grandparent pyramid lets your little ones go on a tactile exploration of your family’s recent history. All you need is cardboard, glue, fabric scissors, markers and crayons, a few photos and some construction paper. Each section of the pyramid is devoted to a grandparent. At the top, put their image and name, then fill the triangular side below with interesting facts, details and memorabilia of their lives.
Create a Family Photo Tree: Your young ones can work on their fine motor skills, sharpen coordination and develop comprehension by helping you create a family tree with photographs. If you don’t have photos of everyone, especially those from the distant past, you can encourage your child to draw a picture of them or of something that represents them. For example, if you know your great-great-grandmother grew up on a farm, your child can draw or color a picture of a barn, crops, animals or any other symbol of their rustic upbringing.
Ancestry Activities for Adolescents and Teens
Embark on a Family History Scavenger Hunt: Since the early 1900s, recording-keeping has become more important and consistent, which makes discovering interesting family info as easy as a few keystrokes. Excite your kids by embarking on an ancestry scavenger hunt. Look online in the Division of Vital Records for birth, marriage and death records. Tap into your teen’s internet skills (which far exceed ours from a very young age) by helping them hunt for family treasures on websites like Newspapers.com, where you can find archived news articles from hundreds of years in the past to present day.
Document Family Fashion: Go through old family photos to explore the styles and fashions of those times. From the vintage bathing suits of the 1920s to wedding attire in the 1980s, creating a family history fashion show can be a fun and often comical way to explore family history. You can learn so much about people through fashion, like the types of personalities of your great-grandparents or where their parents vacationed or what kinds of careers they had.
Family History Activities for All Ages
Take a DNA Test as a Family: Uncover the biological map of your individual and familial identity with an at-home DNA kit. AncestryDNA or 23andMe are two reputable, affordable at-home DNA testing kits that even beginners can do. Encourage your children to explore their own identity by looking into the very basic building blocks of their existence. DNA testing is a lot of fun, but it also reveals some very personal health information; be sure everyone in the family understands the test and is comfortable with it.
Engage your kids with their family history with one of these hands on activities that combine education and fun. Whether you’re embarking on an afternoon foray into family history or a much longer, more in-depth project, you never know what (or who!) you can discover together.