Creative Child

4 Fun Ways to Explore Ancestry With Your Kids

by Erin J. Bernard

3 More Ancestry Activities

Activity #2: Draw up a Living Timeline.

There’s nothing like a good story to bring ancestry alive for kids, so why not have your child put on his or her reporter’s hat and interview an elderly relative they’d like to learn more about?

Together, make a list of questions that’ll get this person talking about the major milestones in their lives, such as:

  • When were you born?
  • What are your earliest memories?
  • What major historical events happened in your childhood?

Then, sit your child down with this relative for a chat (you can participate by prompting questions and taking simple notes.).

After the interview, help your child create a simple timeline outlining the important events in this person’s life, and present it to him or her as a gift.

Family Ancestry Activities

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Activity #3: Head to the cemetery.

These historical repositories hide a wealth of family history, and a visit to one makes for an unforgettable field trip. But be sure to plan ahead. Many cemeteries now offer online search engines and maps, and many have people on hand at designated times to help with locating specific graves or family plots. Come prepared to tell a few stories about the ancestors you’ll be visiting, and encourage your child to ponder what life might have been like in the time these people lived.

You can also bring along a large sheet of white paper (butcher paper works great), some tape, and a black jumbo crayon if you’d like to make tombstone rubbings to commemorate your visit.

Activity #4: Create a family coat of arms.

If your extended family’s far away or you don’t know much about your own ancestry, why not look to the future instead? “Heraldry” was the official term for the popular Medieval practice of creating a personalized coat of arms to represent a family’s unique beliefs and attitudes, and it’s a fun way to forge familial identities right to the present day.

You can select different colors, symbols and animals to represent different traits and qualities, different types of lines to represent natural elements, and different shield shapes to describe your family’s accomplishments. For inspiration on getting started, visit:

Family Coat of Arms

Related Article: The Benefits of Family Traditions

Erin J. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer from Portland, Oregon. Before becoming a writer, Erin worked as a nanny and an ESL classroom teacher. She taught English at a Montessori school in Mexico and then ran an after-school language program in South Korea. Erin is the editor of the parenting guide, “Instructions Not Included: A Pediatrician’s Prescription for Raising the Best Kids on the Block,” written by Irwin H. Berkowitz, MD.

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