Do You Know Your Family Tree?
Putting together a family tree is a great educational activity that uses math, writing, research and history skills.
By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff
It's safe to say that most people know their grandparents' names. Maybe even where they were born and their birthdays.
But if you know your great-grandparents' names, you're doing better than most.
In fact, the majority of Americans do not know their ancestry more than three generations back.
We invite you and your child to take the GreatSchools Challenge: Name your great-great-grandparents -- all 16 of them. You'll be teaching your child that history is about her and her family, not an abstract concept in a textbook. You'll also be showing her that research is rewarding and fun.
Genealogy's Growing Popularity
As more and more families have access to the Internet, and Web sites devoted to genealogy have proliferated, tracing your family tree is easier to do now than ever before. While genealogy can become a lifelong task (and obsession), unearthing three or four generations of family history is relatively easy and doable.
What Lessons Does It Teach?
In the course of learning about his family tree, the younger child will also learn the meaning of such vocabulary as:
- Maiden name
The older child will learn:
- Internet research skills
- How to collect and organize documents (for more advanced searches)
- How history influenced her ancestors
- More likely than not, some surprising facts about her ancestry
Introducing the Younger Child to Genealogy: Making a Family Book
For a child in the early grades, making a simple family book will teach him about his extended family, make him feel special and at the center of a protective cocoon of adults.
Explain to him that genealogy is the history of his family. It is the history of his mother, father, grandmothers, grandfathers, great grandparents, and on and on into the past as far as you can go. This family history can be put into an order, called generations, of parents and their offspring.
You will need these supplies for your family book:
- Construction paper
- Colored markers
- Family photos
Creating your book:
- First, talk about what makes a family. Discuss the fact that there are many different kinds of families, with many different configurations of adults, children, step-parents and step-siblings.
- Expand this family grouping by making a chart of all family members that your child has ever met in person, or spoken to on the telephone.
- Illustrate the book with photos or drawings of the primary individuals. Remember that this is just an introduction to genealogy, meant to reinforce the concept that all families have histories.