What a Great Time to Study Genealogy!Where are you from? First, a surface answer is easy: “I’m from Toledo”, but a deeper answer might be more difficult to explain. The truth is that many of us don’t exactly know where we’re from. Right now, in the time of Ancestry.com and 23 and Me, there are many fun, interesting activities to share with children to get them interested in genealogy. Here are some cool ways to study genealogy!
Children as InvestigatorsTo begin with, children’s natural curiosity makes them born investigators. Studying genealogy is like solving a mystery, a perfect fit for kids. The easiest way to begin learning genealogy is through contact with real, live people like grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Teach your students how to investigate where they are from!
Family InterviewsOf course, stories naturally come out when families get together for special occasions. These narratives can spark curiosity in children and make them want to find out more. Encourage your learners to interview a relative. People typically love to talk about themselves and their history! Check out this great list of questions from Family Tree. An interview can be done via audio, video, or by taking notes. During this time of remote learning, encourage your students to reach out to relatives via Facetime, Zoom, or even phone. What a great time to interview grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even parents to hear their stories!
StorycorpsFor inspiration, check out Storycorps, which began almost 20 years ago in a "story booth" in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The organization focuses on "collecting, sharing, and preserving people’s stories". From the beginning, Storycorps has published books and won many awards while maintaining its focus on the importance of knowing each other’s stories. Share some of the stories with your students through your digital learning platform like Google Classroom or SeeSaw.
Scavenger HuntsAfter asking some questions and writing down family history, have your learners try a scavenger hunt to look through some artifacts and family treasures. Well-loved historical items almost always come with a story and finding those items yourself in a barn or a shed makes the story that much more interesting!
CemeteriesAnother cool place to explore is a cemetery. A cemetery is a fascinating record of births and deaths, and looking for family plots can enrich the historical experience. Children can bring a paper and a crayon to make a rubbing of a tombstone they find, and can also take photos of tombstones to research later. Look online to see if there are cemeteries or other historical sites in your areas your students can virtually explore while remote learning.
Generational ArtifactsOverall, children are really engaged when they’re involved in hands-on activities. Now is the time to bring out old technology and explore hobbies and chores of the past. Some items of interest might be a rotary phone, a manual grinder, or a manual typewriter. If these items are not in your students' homes, encourage them to explore museums online, such as the Smithsonian Institute.
Hobbies of the PastWith the advent of technology, skills like tatting, embroidery, and woodcarving are in danger of extinction. Yes, those tiny fingers of the next generation are willing and able to learn these hobbies. YouTube is a resource for videos on just about everything! When it comes to history, children really do want to learn it. We have to present it in interesting, engaging ways and be patient with their questions. Take the time and initiative to explore genealogy with your students! It truly is a great time to study genealogy!
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