©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
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|The Spiraling Chains: Schroeder - Tumbush Family Trees||
We've had a couple of milder days here in the Midwest (Well, mild for January), and the other day I actually heard birds singing. Birds! Spring is not far away! I recently came across some cute little bird clip art images on OpenClipArt.org, and decided to use them to create this Birds on a Wire family tree printable. Simply click on the image below and you will be directed to a PDF which you may download for your personal use. Enjoy!
Don't forget that this and all other Growing Little Leaves free printables and link to other resources can be found on the Resources page of the new website!
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
We are in the doldrums of winter, which means it is the perfect time for a snowman craft! And, like so many other crafts, believe it or not, it IS possbile to create a snowman with a genealogy focus.
My kids made two snowmen; one to represent their matrilineal ancestors and one to represent their patrilineal ancestors. Hey, we used those words, too! I simply explained that the word matrilineal indicated their string of mothers in the family tree and patrilineal their line of fathers. Once the kids could visualize it on the snowman, I think they better understood what I meant.
We started out with some white poster board, but plain white computer paper would work just as well. If, like me, your free-hand circles are awful, you will need some objects to trace. I used three different sizes of Pyrex bowl lids.
We glued the circles together to make a snowman. Then, I printed out family head shot photos from our computer - my kids' mother (me), maternal grandmother, and their maternal grandmother's mother - to represent their matrilineal line. Likewise, I printed out photos of their father, paternal grandfather, and paternal grandfather's father to represent their patrilineal line. We cut out the photos and glued them onto the snowmen.
I wrote the names of each person under their photo and labeled how they were related to my son and daughter. The kids colored a little bow for the matrilineal snowman and a top hat for the patrilineal snowman.
We only did three generations, but you could easily go another generation or two back by making the snowman a little taller.
If you don't feel like tracing and cutting, I've got printables for you! Click on each picture below and you'll be directed to a PDF which you can download and print for your personal use.
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
Back to basics. Before you can start introducing the children in your life to family history, first they need to acquire a basic understanding of family relationships AND be able identify present family members. You can start teaching children who their family members are at a very young age, and, with enough repetition, that fundamental knowledge of people and relationships will stay with them as they grow.
My four-year-old daughter and I made family member flash cards this past week. Here are the supplies you will need:
Thicker card stock or sample paint cards from the hardware store
Scissors or a paper cutter
Digital headshot photos of family members
Names of family members, either printed from a computer or written by hand
Laminating machine or clear peel-and-stick film (optional)
Last Spring, we made Family Easter Eggs, and that activity required that I compile and crop family member headshot photos. I had saved that file, so I just printed out a new set, along with a list of family names that I just created in Word.
We used sample paint cards that I had accumulated over time, but you can use colorful card stock paper, too. (If you do plan on laminating or covering the cards in a clear plastic film, construction paper will work just fine, but it may not hold up well if not laminated, whereas a thicker card stock does.)
I let my daughter pick out a color for each person's card. We did not really 'color code' by family unit or by relationship, but that is something that you can do, if desired. Then, we glued on names and photos. I kept the names simple, and used mostly first names only, with the exception of grandparents, because my kids use surnames to distinguish between their two sets of grandparents. If your kids call their grandparents words like Nana or Papaw, feel free to use those words for labeling the photos. I also included important family relationship words like aunt, uncle, and cousin. My daughter is starting to recognize some words, so I figure it can't hurt to have her look at these family relationship words over and over again.
After a little trimming, I sent the cards through my home laminating machine and then used a hole punch to make a hole in the upper-left corner of each card. I put the cards through a book ring, which you can find at most office supple stores. Some office supply stores provide laminating services, or you can buy a roll of the clear peel-and-stick plastic film and cover the cards that way, too. Obviously, this step is optional but it will keep the cards more durable, and it will make them washable, too!
We arranged the cards on three book rings: one for mom's side of the family, one for dad's side, and then one with just our little nuclear family. A fun activity for slightly older children would be to re-arrange the rings into various family units; for example, Mom is a part of our family, but she's also part of Grandma and Grandpa K's family along with her brothers and sister (aunt and uncles).
My daughter had fun flipping through each set of cards and identifying people and colors. It's a great little 'toy' to keep in your purse, in the car, or to keep them occupied at church or at the doctor's office.
As always, let me know if you have any questions! Don't forget that this and all of my other family and genealogy activities can be found at the new website, http://www.growinglittleleaves.com
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder
I'm always looking for new, engaging ways in which to get my kids to interact with family photos and heirlooms. They get bored just looking at them all the time, but I still want to stay in the habit of showing them these things on a regular basis.
One day, I was playing around with the Vine app on my phone. Vine is a social network on which people record and upload short video clips, no longer than six seconds long. My four-year-old daughter and I were soon experimenting with it; she would hold a family photo or heirloom and I would record her telling me what it was. Of course, she needed some coaching before telling me about each item, but she absolutely LOVED watching herself in the videos. She watched them over and over again, which means she was getting tons of repetition as far as who and what she was looking at. Repetition is key to learning for young children.
Here are a couple of our videos with photos. You'll have to hover over the video and click on the sound icon in the bottom right corner to hear it. Next time, I'll pay more attention to lighting and background! :-)
And here is one with her great-grandmother's rosary ("Great-Grandma Bellan's rosary"):
Of course, you could do this exercise with normal video recordings, but the GREAT thing about Vine is that other family members can 'follow' along with your account to see the recordings once you share them. People can then 'like' and comment on each video. Once you publish the videos on Vine, you have the options of uploading them directly to Facebook and Twitter. And the videos always stay in your Vine account, so you can go back to them at any time, either on a mobile device or on a desktop computer.
An alternate activity would be to let the child record YOU while you say something about an heirloom or photo. Kids love using technology and would benefit just as much from watching their caretaker talk about family items. And family elders (myself included) are so rarely videotaped that it would probably be an asset to the family documentation collection in the long run.
@2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
It's a new year and the Growing Little Leaves blog has grown tremendously since I started it on a whim last February. I've written over thirty posts, most of those involving fun, engaging activities that can help young children learn about their family history. While a blog format is great for sharing new activities, it's not so great for showcasing older posts as well as other genealogy resources I find out on the web. So, I've decided to start a separate website on which I can do just that. Direct your browser to
and you will find general information about me and my vision for Growing Little Leaves, as well as links to ALL of the activities I've featured on my blog over the past 11 months. For now, I will continue to blog from this same site, so no need to change your Feedly or Bloglovin' feed.
To kick off the new year, I've created two FREE family tree printables for you to download and use with the children in your life. The only writing necessary for filling out these trees is to write the child's name. Then, simply cut out small photos of family members and glue them onto the tree in the appropriate places. It's a great way for young children to be able to visualize family members on one sheet of paper. The printables are in PDF format below.
Please let me know if you have trouble downloading these documents, and take a minute to check out my new website!
©2015 copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
My kids are SO excited about Santa coming next week! I asked my 4yo daughter to whom Santa was going to bring gifts and she started naming some family members, so I thought I would use this opportunity to make another fun family-focused holiday craft.
I call this our Family Forest. (Click for larger image.)
- 12" x 21" piece of white poster board.
- Assortment of green scrapbook paper
- 12" x 12" piece of dark blue or black paper
- Green and brown crayons
- Pencil or pen for measuring
- Light-colored or metallic paint pen
- Small pieces of red, yellow, and beige paper (for Santa, sleigh, and reindeer)
So, my basic idea was that we would make a 'forest' of evergreen trees by cutting simple triangles out of green patterned scrapbook paper.
I asked my daughter to choose a paper, cut off a smaller section of the sheet, and then I used a ruler and pen to trace out triangle shapes on the back. You can create trees of any triangle size, but, just for reference, I measured out triangles with a 3" base and 4" sides.
My daughter took her kiddie scissors and started cutting out the triangles. Remember, practice with using scissors is a great way for preschoolers and early elementary students to develop their fine motor skills. Her cut triangles weren't perfect, but that's okay because we talked about how each tree is different from others (just like people).
Next, my daughter used green crayons to color the white poster board where we would be gluing our triangle trees. (I drew a line in pencil and told her only to color below that line.) I thought a little greenish background would look better behind the trees than just the plain white. When she was done coloring, we took a dark blue piece of 12" x 12" scrapbook card stock and glued it to the top of the poster board (above the green scribbles).
Next, we glued on the triangle trees. Here is where the family learning aspect enters into this activity. After we glued down all the trees, I again asked her to whom Santa was going to bring presents. Using a shiny metallic-color paint pen, I wrote each family member's name on a tree. Remember, if you want a child to learn all of her family members' names and relationships, you need to talk about them frequently with the child, especially if you live far from family members and don't seem them that often. During this activity, we used terms like Grandma and Grandpa, but we then also talked about their different first names and surnames in addition to the 'relationship' names. And always try to define relationship words in terms they understand: Aunt Kara is Daddy's sister, Great-Grandpa is Grandpa's Daddy, etc.
Next, my daughter took a break while I made Santa, his sleigh, and his reindeer out of yellow, red, and beige paper.
And, finally, my daughter used our silver metallic paint pen to add stars to the night sky all around Santa and his reindeer.
You don't have to use patterned scrapbook paper for this activity - plain green construction paper will do just fine for the trees. Also, if you don't feel like cutting out the Santa and reindeer shapes, search around online for some cute little clip art images that your child can color and glue on. Happy crafting!
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
The holiday season is upon us! A few weeks ago, I was at Michael's craft store and picked up this adorable little artificial evergreen tree (for under $8). I decided we would use it to create a family tree Christmas tree.
In addition to this small tabletop tree, I also picked up some chalkboard decorative tags, red ribbon, and chalk at the craft store. Recently, I've been trying to teach my kids the first names of their grandparents and great-grandparents. So, I thought it would be fun to write our family's first names on the tags and hang them on the tree. The kids' names would be at the top of the tree, then their parents, grandparents, and finally great-grandparents towards the bottom.
Because space on each tag was limited, I wrote out the names, but my daughter sat right next to me and we spelled out each name letter-for-letter. We started with her and her brother's names, then worked through my and my husband's names. Once we got to her grandparents, I started by asking the questions, "Who is my mommy?" "Who is Dad's mommy," etc. to reinforce that idea of just what a grandparent is.
I thought the tree would look more colorful and festive if we somehow included the red ribbon I had bought. We got out our scissors and yardstick, and I had my daughter measure off nine-inch sections of ribbon, which I then cut for her. I tied simple little bows around branches, and these bows represented the siblings of her parents and grandparents. (If we had included all of the siblings of her great-grandparents, I would have had to tie 70+ bows, which would have been too many for that little tree.) We named each person as I tied them on, with the proper title of aunt/uncle or grand-aunt/grand-uncle.
Here is our finished tree! I've clustered the name tags towards one side of the tree so I could photograph most of them, but I've spread them out around the tree while it is on display here in our home. I love that the kids have yet another physical representation of their family tree in our home. Remember, repetition is KEY when teaching young children about family relationships and ancestor names!
Note: Black tags similar to the chalkboard ones I purchased can be made using yarn, a hole punch, and some black card stock or construction paper.
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All right reserved.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I wanted to let you know about the Pinterest board I have created in order to showcase various resources for teaching young children about the First Thanksgiving. There can be a lot of misinformation out there, so I strive to dig up books, videos, lesson plans, and other online resources that tell an accurate and well-balanced story of the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag Tribe, and the events surrounding the First Thanksgiving.
I highly recommend visiting Scholastic's The First Thanksgiving website. On the Virtual Field Trips page, you are able to view several videos illustrating everything from the Pilgrims voyage to America, to Wampanoag daily life. These videos were produced as a cooperative effort between Scholastic and the Plimoth Plantation historical site located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
I update my boards year-round, so I will continue to add to these resources as I find them. I encourage you to follow along with my Growing Little Leaves Pinterest boards; let me know if there are any specific resources for which you are looking and I will be happy to scour the Internet for books, lesson plans, activities, and videos that meet you and your children's needs as far as history or genealogy education.
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
This week, the children's television show, Sesame Street, celebrated its 45th birthday. My siblings and I grew up on Sesame Street and my kids still watch it, too. Television has now been around long enough that the parents, grandparents, and even some great-grandparents of today's children have fond memories of specific TV shows from their younger days. Thanks to the Internet and, more specifically, YouTube, we are able to share these shows with our children and grandchildren (for free!)
I grew up in the 80s, and virtually any sitcom, cartoon, or educational program from that era can now be found on YouTube. But, Grandparents, did you know that many shows from the 50s and 60s that YOU grew up with can also be found on YouTube?
I did a quick YouTube search of some popular family/children's programs from the 50s and 60s and here is a short list of what I found:
The Lone Ranger
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
The Andy Griffith Show
Classic Mickey Mouse Club
The Shari Lewis Show
Leave It To Beaver (the 1954 season of Lassie available for free on Hulu.com)
Adventures of Superman
I Love Lucy (select I Love Lucy episodes also available for free on Hulu.com)
Also, check out the website, Free-Classic-TV-Shows.com. Lots of old shows, including some pretty obscure series and episodes.
Introducing today's children to TV programs of the past is an easy, interactive, and fun way to get kids thinking about the past. Television history has become an important aspect of modern popular history and culture. Show them a black-and-white show from the 50s. Explain to them that TV hasn't always been in color. It will blow their minds that there used to only be three channels TOTAL; children today are used to having dozens of channel and show options. And don't assume that the children you know will find the shows boring or irrelevant to their lives. Last year, while on vacation, we stumbled upon an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. My six year old son was actually very interested in it, because the plot line involved Opie and some problems he was having with some kids from school. (He also LOVES all the slapstick stuff on Gilligan's Island!)
When you start showing kids television shows that meant something to YOU as a child, you are making a family history connection with them. Every child has a favorite TV show; it's something in life that we can all relate to. Don't be surprised if the kids then start asking other questions about your childhood - Where did you live?, Did you wear clothes like those kids in the show?, Did you have a bike like that kid in the show?, Who were your friends? What was school like then?, Where did you parents work?, etc. And all of a sudden, you have a budding family historian!
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder. All rights reserved.
In previous posts, I've explored activities that help children recognize extended family members and learn relationship vocabulary. (Easter Egg Family Faces, The BIG Family Tree). But I've noticed that my kids, specifically my four year old daughter, still have trouble with how parts of her extended family are more or less "organized." She didn't quite realize that, for example, Daddy is a member of two smaller family units - our family and his parents' family. I needed an activity that could demonstrate 'nuclear' family units in an interactive, visual manner. Combine that with the fact that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Family Unit Turkey's were born!
Supplies needed for this activity:
- Colorful paper
- Cardboard box
- Pencil and Markers
- Googly Eyes (optional)
Each turkey we made would represent one family unit. We would write the family's surname(s) on the belly of the turkey and each feather would represent one person in the family.
First, I created tracing templates from the sides of a cardboard box. I cut them out, and my daughter used these to trace the turkeys' bodies and feathers.
I showed my daughter how to trace on the back of the paper, so that the pencil line would not show when we cut it out. She chose each color/pattern for each family member.
After the tracing, she wanted to cut out the turkey feathers on her own. (Cutting with scissors is a skill they are practicing in her preschool class.) Of course, we used safety scissors and I watched her carefully the whole time. The feathers shapes do not have to be cut perfectly; in fact, I think they look better with some jagged edges - more like real turkey feathers!
After we were done cutting, it was time to glue the feathers onto the turkey body. Then, we used various markers to label the turkey with the family surname and each feather with a family member's first name. This was a teaching moment in and of itself, because my daughter did not know all of her grandparents' first names. (Young children do not inherently realize that adults even HAVE first names!)
I cut out little triangles for the turkey beaks and we found some googly eyes in our craft cabinet. If you do not have googly eyes available, you can cut circles out of the paper or just draw on eyes with markers.
We made three turkeys in all; her attention span was done after that. We created a turkey for our own little family, for my family, and for my husband's family. Each turkey had a different number of feathers, so we counted them and talked about how some families are bigger and some are smaller. We also talked about how mom and dad are actually a part of two family units, and I think this activity helped her better associate each of her aunts and uncles with the correct side of the family. ("Uncle Jeff is Mommy's brother and Grandma and Grandpa K.'s son.")
Please do not feel like you have to have perfect nuclear families in your tree to do this activity with the children in your life. A family unit can be defined however you wish. You could stick with traditional biological family units, or you can create your turkeys based on family members who live together. Children can and should put themselves in more than one family unit if they share their time with their parents' or guardians' separate families.
Have fun making your turkeys and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
©2014, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder