When we are passionate about genealogy, it's only natural to want to pass that interest on to our children and grandchildren. I've encouraged my grandchildren and exposeed them to genealogy in fun ways that might interest other genealogists. Every summer my two oldest grandchildren spend a week with us and during that time here are some of the activities we've done with them.
I made Ancestor Cards
for my grandchildren. Each card (the size of a baseball card) had an ancestor photo if one was available, their relationship to my grandchildren, and a bio of the person on the back. We played many card games with the card. The children invented their own games - one was like that age old favourite "WAR" but based on who had the oldest ancestor (meaning the one born the earliest). Each year I add a few more cards to the Ancestor deck!
Each year we have a Cemetery Hunt
. The children love this activity and happily spend hours in local cemeteries hunting for specific gravestones. I try to choose cemeteries with an ancestor but if that isn't possible I just choose any old and interesting tombstone. The idea is to get the children comfortable in a cemetery, and get them interested in the people buried there. We talk about the stones, calculate ages at death (a great Math activity!) and about respect for the dead.
A nice activity for a rainy day is a Genealogy Crossword Puzzle
or Word Hunt. I created some for the grandchildren and there are sites online which have templates you can use.
This year I have two activities in mind - a Genealogy Remembrance Garden
and a Genealogy Time Capsule
My grandchildren are coming in August this year so I have already got them thinking about what they will put in their Genealogy Time Capsule. A family tree, photos, a drawing they made, an old toy with a note explaining who it belonged to and what it meant to them, a dated letter they write explaining who they are and why they are making the time capsule - there's no limit to what their imaginations might dream up to go into these capsules! When they are with us, we'll create the time capsules
and bury or hide them
for the future.
I also involve the grandchildren by looking at old photos and talking about the ancestor in the picture. I tell stories of each person (if I know something about them!) and I show my grandchildren any treasured items I have that belonged to that ancestor in the photo. The first thing they say when the get in the car to come home with us is "Tell us stories of our ancestors, Gramma!". The car ride to bring them from their home to ours is 3 hours long, and each time I finish one story, they request another. For 3 hours I get to talk about ancestors - what a treat for me!
It is to the point where they now ask for specific stories - "Tell us about our ancestor who walked Niagara Falls
on a tightrope!" "Tell us about great great great gramma Sarah who died on the ship going to Australia
and her kids got left there". It's amazing what they remember, and of course I tried to make the stories as interesting and exciting as possible when they were younger.
Now we have a very good candidate to take up the torch after I am gone - my oldest grandson seems the most interested and never stops asking questions about the family and genealogy. So you can have fun with your children or grandchildren while keeping an eye out for the one who might carry on your work. Encourage them and enjoy your time with them.