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|The Spiraling Chains: Schroeder - Tumbush Family Trees||
The BIG news for Growing Little Leaves this week is that this blog is MOVING! Since I've had good feedback and traffic on the stand-alone site GrowingLittleLeaves.com, I've decided to migrate the Growing Little Leaves blog over to that site, so all of the resources will be in one location. All previous blog posts have been moved to the new website address (www.growinglittleleaves.com/blog), and all NEW posts will now be posted there instead of at this location. Older posts will remain at this location as well.
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November 11th here in the United States is Veterans Day, a day when we pay tribute to all men and women, past and present, who have served the nation through military service. The Commonwealth of Nations celebrates this day as Remembrance Day, and it is a memorial day to honor those who've fallen in military service.
One of the major symbols of Remembrance Day is the red poppy flower. Since I'm always looking for ways in which to teach my kids about why we celebrate holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day, I decided a poppy craft might be a great idea. But how do I explain to them WHY the poppy holds significance to honoring veterans?
In our local library's children's biography section, I found the book The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh. The book is targeted toward 7-10 year olds, but I read it to my 5 year old just the same. I simplified some of the vocabulary so she could understand it, and had to explain certain aspects of the book more than I would to an older kid, but she enjoyed it and learned from it (as did I.) Although the book deals with war and destruction and death, the illustrations are realistic without being graphic or disturbing to children. One particular (and beautiful) illustration shows a soldier standing in a cross-filled cemetery in a field covered with red poppies - this really got through to her and she was able to associate the poppies with the fallen soldiers. (She did remark about how sad it was.) Later on in the book, we see Moina and others wearing red poppies on their lapels, and that illustration, too, helped my daughter understand how our act of wearing poppies serves as a reminder to others that we should remember and honor our veterans.
For our craft, first we made a field of poppies. For this, you will just need some red paper, scissors, glue, a green crayon, and a white sheet of paper. We used some red paint sample cards that I had left over from another craft. I had some black buttons lying around, so we used those for the center of each poppy, but you could just use black paper, too.
I traced circles on the paint cards and my daughter cut them out. Then, she glued them on the paper and I glued on the buttons. She drew the flower stems and grass with a green crayon.
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder
One of the great things about teaching kids about their ancestors is that it almost always is a great launching point to discuss the world, national and local historical events that occurred when those ancestors lived. I created a worksheet to help you and your kids organize and visualize an ancestor's life against historical events. Of course, filling in the right side of this worksheet will take a little research, but upper-elementary students will have no trouble digging up some history online and lower elementary students can engage in online research, too, with a little help from an adult.
Fortunately, there are a LOT of great kid-oriented history books, videos, websites, blog posts, etc. and one of my missions at Growing Little Leaves is to create a one-stop kid-friendly cultural and history reference database on Pinterest where all of these sources are compiled. You check out Growing Little Leaves' profile below and follow along - I scour the Internet regularly and try to update my boards often with new material!
As always, this worksheet is FREE to download. Click on the image below to download a PDF.
Try filling out this worksheet for several ancestors in the same time period and compare and contrast the historical events that may have influenced (or not influenced) all of the ancestors. Obviously, historical events can be anything from wars to politics to cultural events to inventions. Try to encourage kids to think about all aspects of life when searching for events to include on the worksheet. And have a world and national maps handy may help when discussing some of the events you find.
This printable and all others are always available for download on the Printables page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com
Are you a member of a historical or genealogical society that would like to attract more younger people and families to your ranks? Would your society like to become more visible within the community at large? If the answers are 'yes,' this blog post is all about some suggestions to help your society accomplish these goals.
The first step in attracting more families (parents and minor children) to your society is actually WANTING to do so. If not enough people within your group are on-board and willing to contribute their time and talent, then it will never happen. Form a committee within your society and then perhaps even sub-committees for specific tasks or events. Some of the suggestions I list below may take a considerable amount of crowd-sourcing from within your ranks, but I promise you the payoffs can be great!
Sponsoring Family-Friendly Events: Does your society periodically offer free Open Houses for prospective members? If not, consider doing so once or twice a year, and make it child-friendly in the process. If you are a member of a society with no physical location, most public libraries offer rooms that can be reserved for free with just a library card. Or better yet, have some members man a meet-and-greet table at a local Farmer's Market, Community Night Out or County Fair.
Now, HOW would you make an open house or meet-and-greet table child-friendly? What about featuring a 'Technology and Tools of the Past' theme? Probably just from digging around in their basements, your members could bring in old telephones, record players, typewriters, and even old computers for kids to look at, touch (yes, I said touch), and learn about. And, with supervision, kids could examine old household things like washtubs and washboards, old glass medicine and milk bottles, metal milk cans, maybe an old cast iron pressing iron or an old Kirby vacuum cleaner. Or perhaps dig up some old toys from your childhood or your kids' childhoods and have an 'old toy' table for kids to explore. (Remember that 'old' to today's kids is not necessarily that old at all - even stuff from the 70s and 80s is fascinating to young children today.) Find some things that would interest the kids for a few minutes, and at the same time, you can talk with their parents or grandparents about the goals and mission of your group.
Your society may already have members of local battle reenactment groups. What about holding an open house during which a mini-reenactment is featured? Or have some of your members dress up in period attire and tell visitors about what life is like on their local farm in the 1860s? Events like these are wonderful for public relations, especially if you were to bring the character actors to a farmer's market or county fair table, where there are already a lot of families passing through.
If the open houses and table meets go well, consider sponsoring regular family-oriented programs in your community. Research Colonial-American or Pioneer toys and games and invite kids from the community to come play and learn about them. Hold a square-dancing workshop for kids and their parents - maybe even in a local historical barn (how fun would that be!). Hold a Halloween storytelling session and share local ghost stories in front of a bonfire or even just have a trick-or-treating event at a local historical museum. Design the activities around your area's local history and cultural heritage. I suggest always making family programs FREE, which isn't difficult to accomplish if you crowd-source for materials and talent among members AND partner with other local groups. (see below)
Partner With Other Local Groups: Does your genealogical society maintain an open communication with your local historical society and vice versa? Has your society ever thought of reaching out to scouting groups or other local ethnic heritage groups and sponsor community events with them? Holding joint events is a win-win situation for both groups and for the community at-large. Get in on a cemetery clean-up with a local scouting troop. Co-sponsor a German Heritage Day with the German-American club in your area. Reach out to local high school history teachers and offer to send members into the classroom to talk about local history. If your local high school has a Junior ROTC program, contact them and plan a Veterans Day commemoration with them. Make a banner and walk in local parades (even better if you're in period costume!) Get your name and faces out in the community where young people and their parents can see you!
Offer Free Child Care during Member Meetings: Yes, you read that correctly. Lots of churches do this these days, so that parents can attend Bible studies and other meetings. It's not difficult to arrange. All you need are a couple of volunteers to watch the children, some toys to keep them busy, and a room that is separate, but nearby, to the main meeting room where the kids can play. Even my small-town library has adjoining rooms that can be reserved by anyone at no charge.
Today's families are busier than even, but that does not necessarily mean we have no interest in preserving local and family histories. SHOW us that we and our children are integral parts to your mission of preserving and educating the community about local history. Even just simple acts of family-oriented outreach will make a positive impression on parents and children who see you out-and-about in the community, and you will be building a legacy for the continuation of your society in the future.
"Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression." - Dr. Haim Ginott
"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." - Neil Postman
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder
It's apple-picking season, so I was inspired to create an activity involving family AND apple trees. This is the Family Apple Tree. Here are the materials I used:
Computer with Internet connection and color printer
3/8" self-adhesive Velcro dots
Small family member headshot photos
Do you know about OpenClipArt.org? It's a simple website on which graphic artists upload all sorts of clip art images and they are completely free to download and use, even for commercial purposes, without attribution necessary. On this website, I found simple tree and apple images to use for this activity. I downloaded them and printed them out on my home computer. I made the tree image take up most of an 8.5x11" paper, but then scaled the apple image down much smaller so that I could get a bunch of apples to fit on the tree.
I cut out the tree and each little apple. Then I went to my file of family member headshot photos and scaled them so that they would fit on the apples. I glued them on with a glue stick.
Then I heated up my laminator and laminated the tree and all the apples. This part is optional, but it will make the set more durable, especially if you plan on having a younger toddler or preschooler use it regularly. (Before I laminated the tree, I put another layer of cardstock behind it to make it a little less flimsy.)
After I had trimmed off the excess laminating plastic, I stuck a 3/8" Velcro dot on each apple, and then the corresponding other dot on the tree itself.
And that's it! This tree that I made is only my husband's immediate family: His parents, siblings, their spouses, and all the grandkids. You could make one for each side of your family. This is a perfect activity for toddlers and preschoolers, to help them better learn and recognize extended family members. It's a great 'busy-bag' activity to keep in your purse or in the car for when you know you might be waiting around awhile (doctor's office). And, it helps young children practice fine motor skills!
As always, this activity will be listed on the Activities page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Today, September 16, is Mexico's Independence Day (El Grito). Here is a new set of 'My Mexican Ancestor' worksheets. As always, there are male and female versions, both with and without the option of recording your sources. Click on each image to be directed to a downloadable PDF.
All 'Recording Ancestor Data' worksheets can be found at this link on GrowingLittleLeaves.com
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. Do not reproduce or redistribute without written consent of owner.
On September 7, the United States and Canada celebrate Labo(u)r Day. It's a great time to use this day off of work and school to talk with kids about their ancestors' occupations. Of course, there are many jobs of the past that do not even exist these days (or some that are not much in the public eye), so talking about some of these jobs with kids can be educational in and of itself.
I created a very simple worksheet to make the conversation more hands-on for children. There is a place to write the ancestor's name and occupation, and then a larger area in which the child can draw a picture of that ancestor doing their job. (Click on the image below to download the PDF.)
My second grader loves to draw, so he was eager to do this. First, I showed him a snippet from the 1860 U.S. Census. I told him who this was in terms he could understand - 'Great-Grandma's Great-Grandpa' - and showed him the column that listed each person's occupation.
I asked him if he knew what a Blacksmith did. He said, "A guy who makes swords and armor." (Apparently, there are medieval-type blacksmiths in the Minecraft video game, which is where he got this knowledge.) I told him that at the time and place during which this particular ancestor lived, blacksmiths made things like horseshoes, farming tools, and building supplies like nails or bolts.
We sat down and used our iPad to Google images of the tools Blacksmiths used in their work. For example, he did not know what an anvil was or what it looked like, so that's one of the things we looked up.
Here is his completed worksheet. He still drew the blacksmith making a sword. :-)
This is another one of those activities you could complete for many ancestors, and then compile the worksheets into a folder or binder to have a nice ancestor record set to look at again and again. And I think the kids would have fun going back through their drawings and would hopefully feel some pride in their work.
May you and your family have a wonderful, relaxing Labo(u)r Day!
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder
One of the major components of documenting family history is interviewing family elders. There are many websites out there that offer lists of questions to ask older family members during an interview. I wanted to create something that makes the process of interviewing FUN for young children AND encourages a more natural, conversational way of getting to know a family member, instead of just reading question after question off a list.
This is the Roll A Memory game. It's a simple paper cube with various questions about childhood likes, dislikes, homes, school, vacations, etc. Players take turns rolling and then every player must answer the question. After everyone answers, they get some sort of candy or goodie, which is a good incentive for kids or adults who are reluctant to play at first. Anyone, from preschoolers to senior citizens and everyone in between, can play this game! It would be fun to do at larger family gatherings - to really get people talking about their memories of people and places of the past.
I have created three sample cubes for you to download and use with your family. (Simply cut out along the perimeter of the cross shape, fold along the black lines, and tape the tabs on the inside of the cube to hold it together.) You may also download a blank cube template on which to write your own questions that are perhaps more specific to your family members and your family traditions. (Click on each image to be directed to a downloadable PDF.)
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. For personal use only. Printables may not be reproduced or redistributed without written consent of owner.
Kids love trains. They love watching them, playing with them, and riding in them. So, I thought, why not design a family history activity that is centered around trains.
Introducing the Surname Train! It's a very simple concept: One engine per surname, and then each individual family member gets his or her own train car, on which his/her photo and full name are included. Kids are able to visually put the faces with the surnames.
The train cars attach to each other and the engine using self-adhesive Velcro circles, which you can buy at any craft store or big-box store. This way, once you make several surname engines, you can make it a game, and ask the child to match the cars to the correct surname engine. I also love this interchangable aspect of the activity because I can show with the child how married women can actually be a part of two (or more) surname trains.
I laminated the engine and cars for durability, but you do not have to do that. Also, when doing this with a child, I encourage you to ask the child to color or decorate the engine and cars. Let the child show off his or her creativity in this project.
With older children, you may want to write birth years on the back of each train car, and then ask them to put the cars in chronological order when assembling each train.
And, hey, my train engine and cars template is FREE! Click on either photo below to be directed to a downloadable two-page PDF for your personal use. Simply print, cut, and create!
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. For personal use only. May not be reproduced or redistributed with out written consent of owner.
Genealogists love tables and charts, am I right? We love ordering facts in chronological order in neat little forms and tidy family sheets. However, if you show most young children some of these organizational tables and forms, their interest in recording family history flies right out the window.
I was recently trying to think of 'out-of-the-box' ways in which to get younger school-aged children into writing down facts about their ancestors, without the structure and tedium of line-after-line tables. I came up with what I like to call the 'Ancestor Fact Circle.' As you can see, it is very simple. There is a place for the ancestor's name at the top as well as how he/she is related to the child ('great-grandmother', 'father', etc.) There is a small inner circle for a photo. The rest of the space within the larger circle is for the child to write down facts about this person.
What facts should the child write down? That's what I love about this sheet - it is completely open-ended. You could sit down with the child and pull facts from census schedules or birth records or family Bibles. Or, you could tell the child to go up to Grandpa and ask him five or so facts about himself. The idea is to get the child thinking about and writing about the ancestors in his/her family without it seeming like a rigid or overly-involved homework project. You could even use different colored pens or markers to make it look more vibrant and colorful.
Once you complete these sheets for several ancestors, use a three-ring hold punch, and put them all in a little binder for the child. It's an easy way to make a little family history journal that they can look at again and again. In the future, if they learn something new about a particular ancestor, it would be easy for them to add that fact to the worksheet.
Here are a couple of sample worksheets that I filled out with very basic information:
As always, this worksheet is FREE for all to download for personal use. Click on the image of the blank worksheet above to be directed to a PDF. You can download this, as well as all of my other free printables, from the Printables page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com.
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. Do not reproduce or redistributed without written consent of owner.
Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Partnering with the Indiana Historical Society to develop education programs for children and their caretakers.