Genealogy Time With My Daughters

Disclaimer: I work very hard to indoctrinate my children in all things family history.  I believe (and studies are backing me up) knowing where you come from helps grow your children into the best version of themselves.

Last fall my six-year-old daughter made a five-minute video on her LeapPad (a game tablet for kids). The topic was genealogy.  She spent a lot of time telling me how much she wanted to “do genealogy with Mommy.”  She also said that she wanted to go to cemeteries to find her ancestors.  The only problem was that the list of ancestors included living people.

The next day, after clearing up the fact that only dead people are buried, Julia and I talked about what kinds of projects we could work on together.  We agreed to start interviewing different family members about their lives.  As a surprise for her birthday, my husband and I purchased Julia a basic camcorder.  She took a couple of tentative steps into the video world at Christmas by asking my extended family questions.

This week Julia approached me again with a request to tell her about an ancestor.  We got out the video recorder and I told her all about her great-grandmother who recently passed away.  We ended the video session with a promise to talk about other family members in the near future.

I was surprised yesterday when Julia again brought up the topic of family history.  She wanted to “see” her ancestors.  We sat down together and printed out a fan chart from  It was so adorable when she kept stating “these are all my ancestors!”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I have much more research to do.

Julia was not happy though because a fan chart does not include her cousins.  She wanted to see her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents from both sides of the family in the same chart.  I gave her a piece of paper and this is what she put together:

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She asked for help adding the rest of our immediate family and dogs.  Together we worked to make another version of her family tree.  This time I started by writing Mommy and Daddy.  We worked together to add the rest of our family and dogs by attaching them to the correct people.  I was so proud that Julia knew how the family relationships should be laid out.  I also loved that she felt it was important to include the dogs and cat since they are loved as family members.  She has already mounted the sheet to construction paper and taped it to the wall.

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My 3-year-old is all about keeping up with her big sister.  Mia wanted to draw a family tree too.  I gave her a piece of paper and let her do her own thing.  She decided to draw stick figures of our family including dogs.  We finished it off by adding each person’s name to the bottom of the page.  This picture was taped to the wall right next to her sister’s.

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The fun my kids and I had this week is another example of how you can make genealogy fun and age appropriate.  I am so excited about the ideas I have to “do genealogy” with them in the future.

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