Creating Jr. Genealogists

I started being proud of my stance while in high school when I found out that my great-grandma, a women for whom I hold a lot of respect, stood the same way. The stories I heard of her diligent and faithful character became more meaningful to me when I realized that we had some similarities.

Family history is such an important part of the gospel. We are urged to do our family history and accept responsibility for completing our ancestors’ temple work. What we sometimes fail to see is that a knowledge of where we came from gives us confidence and stability just like the strong base on a deeply rooted tree.

Whether you grew up to be a thriving genealogist or not, here are some ideas to help your children become more interested in their ancestors.

Traditions

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, and other holidays all hold traditions that have important historical meanings. With these and other traditions, discuss with your children how these traditions started, what they may have meant to your predecessors, and why they have been continued until the present time.

For a fun and educational change, consider celebrating your holidays in a more traditional way. For instance, next Christmas celebrate the way your great grandmother celebrated when she was growing up in Holland, or dress up like pilgrims for your Thanksgiving feast. The following are some other traditions that you might want to add to your family’s calendar.

1. Family Heritage Night. If you don’t already use family home evening to focus on your heritage, try adopting a family heritage night. This night will be set aside for your family to learn about a different time period or culture from your heritage (even an unrelated time period or culture will awaken a interest in history).

Focus your night on an ancestor, beginning with food from that particular ancestor’s era or a dinner filled with his or her favorite foods. Display a picture of your ancestor in the middle of the table or on a nearby wall for the entire month to help your children get to know the ancestor in a more personal way and spark different questions that they may have.

2. Church History Traditions. Read books to your children about Church history and tell them the stories that inspire you. Also, teach them about your ancestors who joined the Church, their former religious beliefs, and their situation in life. As you learn about their conversion, begin to celebrate significant events in the Church and in their lives. As you celebrate these important religious dates, add emphasis to why it is celebrated and what it meant to the early Saints, the pioneers, and your ancestors.

Bedtime Stories

Add some personal bedtime stories to your nightly routine. Children will listen better right before bed and will love to hear fun stories about your former glory days. Tell them about grandma and grandpa’s history and the histories of other people that you love. Don’t embellish your stories—just tell them all the interesting details. These stories can make a big impact on their lives.

Interactive Fun

1. Games. There are many games on the market that can teach your child about history. Oregon Trail, Battle Cry, and Axis and Allies get kids involved in history and teach about different world events. You can also use the game Settlers as a way to teach your kids about pilgrims and pioneers. The Family Tree Trivia Game (available at heartscorner.com) uses your family’s genealogy by having family members fill out trivia cards about themselves and about their family history. While playing these games, bridge the gap between the game and what really happened in history.

2. The Internet. A fun and safe way for children to browse the Internet is on genealogy websites. Show your children how they can search for their ancestors on different sites. Familysearch.org has over a billion names and can be a good starting place. Children, parents, and grandparents can also discover and share unique family stories by searching on ancestry.com. Other places, like cindislist.com, feature kid’s sites and provide plenty of resourceful helps.

3. Historical Sites. Visit historical monuments in your city and state and learn more about how your area was founded. When you go on family vacations, make time for visiting historical sites in that region as well. Every location that you visit has a history. Take your family to a site where they can learn more about how this city or state fits into the history of the nation or of the world.

Writing

1. Journals. Journals are a great way to help interest your children in their past while they prepare for the future. As they write for their posterity, they will be interested to find out what others wrote for them. Encourage them to write frequently.To show your children how important journals are, create a family journal to record special events in the life of your family. Update your family journal weekly or monthly with pictures and entries from everyone in the family.

2. A Family Newsletter. Let your children participate in family newsletters. Newsletters let you stay in touch with relatives in other areas. Let them help in creating the newsletter by interviewing a relative or researching and ancestor and writing about what they were able to discover.

3. Writing to Cousins and Grandparents. Before the next family reunion, pull out the stationary and help your children become acquainted with their cousins who will be attending the next reunion. These letters will guarantee fun as the anticipation for the reunion will build with every letter.

4. Pen Pals. Some of the best pen pals may be right in your family. You can also sign up on epals.com to find a pen pal from a different country—maybe even a country of your heritage.

Scrapbooking

Your attic and storage areas may be a great resource for tangible heirlooms. Pictures, furniture, clothing, and report cards can teach you and your children much about your ancestors. Collect all the pictures and memorabilia that can be compiled into a book and let you children help with the layout and design.

Family Children and Adopted Children

Here are some “do’s” to creating a positive experience for your adoptive children so that they are better able to bond their different heritages and cultures.

Do: Decide (before you ever start) the degree to which you feel comfortable opening the door of your child’s biological heritage.

Do: Help your child explore his birth heritage with the safety, security, and acceptance of his adopted family.

Do: Teach your adopted child how important she is in the adoptive family’s lineage.

Do: Give your child something significant from the adoptive family’s background to intertwine the two cultures.

Do: Keep a scrapbook of the country or region of your child’s birth describing its culture or significant historical events.

Do: Celebrate the day of your child’s adoption. On that day in particular, share music, traditional dress, language, food, and other culture aspects of your adopted child’s birth country or region.

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