Whether you are researching your own family history or you’d like to get more involved in your local community, family history can be a wonderful activity for the whole family.
Family history doesn’t have to happen through extensive research of birth records and death certificates. It can also include reading stories about ancestors, gathering together old photographs, visiting historic sites, or even learning about your family’s likes and dislikes. Family History is more than just facts and figures. It’s about making history come to life!
Today I’ll be sharing 15 fun and simple family history activities that the whole family can enjoy.
1. Visit a Family History Center
One place you can visit to learn more about your family history is your local Family History center. Family History centers are large libraries that contain resources for genealogists to learn about their family history through research. They house books, microfilm records, and access to online resources. You can even buy copies of documents you might need! If you’re not sure where the closest one is located, check out this handy locator tool: Family History Locator.
2. Chat with Your Great-Grandparents or Other Elderly Relatives
Remember that time when your grandmother shared stories about her childhood? Or when you overheard your grandfather talking about his time as a young man. Maybe you didn’t know these stories before, but it would be nice to hear them now . The next time a family member who is a senior citizen is willing to talk about his or her childhood, say YES!
3. Visit A Cemetery
Cemeteries are great places to discover information about your ancestors. Many cemeteries have books with small records about people buried there, as well as large family trees. You might even be able to find photographs and biographical information about people who are buried there. If you’re visiting a cemetery that has been around for a long time, it’s possible that your ancestors could have been buried there–and now you can visit their graves!
If you know of a cemetery close by where you have relatives go on a gravestone hunt and try to find as many of your relatives as you can. You could also look for gravestones with your family name and take photos.
I once took photos of all the gravestones with my grandparents surname and when I returned home I discovered that some of those graves were relatives.
4. Make Family Photos into Postcards
Do you have a pile of old family photos? Instead of leaving them in a box or taking up space on your hard drive use these photographs and make them into postcards. Make a new tradition for Grandparents Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s day and more by sending out old family photos to friends and loved ones!
5. Create A Family Tree
You can make a family tree online or you can draw one out on paper. You could start with yourself and work backwards, or you could start at the beginning of your family and work forwards.
If you’re doing this activity as a group, divide up the work by assigning each member of the group to research different generations.
6. Cook Foods Your Ancestors Used To Make
As you research your family history, you might discover that certain foods were common in an ancestor’s household. Maybe your great-great grandparents would have made a special dish during holidays or on special occasions–and now it’s time to try the recipe!
My great grandmother Sarah Senior had a recipe book and it has a great recipe for Welsh cakes which were really delicious. Why not find out if your grandparents had a favorite dish as a child or even try cooking food from the countries your ancestors came from.
7. See if You Can Find Family History Clues at Home
Even if you don’t have time for a big family history project, try poking around your home to see what clues you can find about your family. Look for photo albums and boxes of family keepsakes, letters from relatives, and old immigration papers. You never know what you’ll discover!
Maybe you have an old family bible sitting on the bookshelf. Why not get it out and have a read together and see what information you can discover.
8. Make Family Memory Books
Did someone in your family go on a big adventure? Or maybe they traveled the world and brought back some mementos of their travels.
Now it’s time to make these memories into a book! Collect all of the items your relative brought home from their trip, along with letters, ticket stubs , and other items, and make a book of memories. That would be a fun activity for the whole family to get involved in.
9. Researching Different Cultures
Did your family come from another country? If you’re not sure, do some research! Find out which countries people in your family came from and why they immigrated.
Even if your ancestors didn’t leave the country, you could still learn about their lives where you live by looking at census records to see what kinds of jobs they had or newspapers to see what their lives were like.
One of my ancestors was a Maori chiefs daughter. Her name was Merehana Puha. Why not choose an ancestor fro your family tree and learn everything you can about what life was like in the place and time they grew up.
10. Interview Family Members
One activity that could be fun for the family is to interview each other. Everyone in the family should take turns interviewing each other about big moments in their lives, what they did growing up, the kinds of things they are involved with now, and more.
You can put all these interviews together into a movie or even better make a youtube video about family memories. Now that could be fun.
11. Make A Family Time Capsule
Every family has their traditions and secrets, so why not preserve them in a time capsule?
Collect photos, letters, keepsakes, drawings – anything that might remind future generations of what life was like growing up in your family. Present this collection to your family at a special holiday or birthday party in the future.
12. Have An Evening Playing Games Your Grandparents Played As Children
While you’re in the family history researching mood, why not enjoy a game or two from when your grandparents were children.
If you have grandparents still living, ask them what games they played as kids and how they came up with these games. Why not ask them to show your family how to play their favorite childhood games? Your whole family will love playing games from your grandparents childhood.
Check out this post: Family History Interview Questions To Ask Parents And Grandparents
13. Make A Family History Booklet
Making a magazine or booklet of family history is a great way to get children interested in family history.
Each child could make their own page about an ancestor, draw pictures, write stories – whatever they like! You can then bind the booklets together into one larger book.
14. Go on Family History Adventures
Everyone loves an adventure, so why not go on one together?
You could visit the place where your ancestors lived, do genealogy research in libraries and archives, try on old clothes to look like what people back then wore, or help your family make something they used to make.
Have an adventure that your ancestors would have had and imagine what it was like for them!
15. Make Family Memory Stones
This final activity is a simple one that can be done by the whole family together.
Take walks and collect rocks along the way to make a stone garden of memories. You could also include leaves, twigs, or anything else you find on your walk as part of your stones.
Your garden will be a reminder of all the family walks you’ve taken together and of the places where you found each stone.
Doing these activities with your family can help you make memories to last forever! Now that’s fun, exciting and helps while trying to learn about your ancestors. Which activity will you try first?