I put together a simple, but cute little family 'tree' using some colorful clip art bunnies and flowers from openclipart.org. There is a boy version and a girl version, and it's only three generations, so simple enough for the youngest children. If you are seeing family for Easter, this would be a great little activity to do with the kids! Simple click on each photo to be directed to a downloadable PDF.
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder. For personal use only. May not be reproduced or redistributed without written consent of owner.
I'm always looking for unique, interactive ways in which to help my children create and understand timelines. In general, timelines are great for teaching kids about historical events, but they can also be effectively used to illustrate and understand our ancestors' individual lives. I came across a pin on Pinterest entitled Stacked: Learning With Styrofoam Cups. One of the activities illustrated on the page was creating a historical timeline using simple white Styrofoam Cups. I thought this would work great for creating an ancestor's timeline, so that's what we did!
Photos, symbols, newspaper clippings, documents related to ancestor's life
Glue or clear packing tape
First, you must decide which life events you want to be represented in the timeline. I chose to make one for my maternal grandmother (my kids' great-grandmother). I included the main events, such as birth, death, marriage, graduation, and births of children. I also included other events such as immigration and joining the military, which are more unique to her life. You could also include events like moving, receiving sacraments, starting a new job, retirement - it's really up to you and your child. Once you choose the events you are going to include, write each year on the lip of a Styrofoam cup.
The next step is to find photos, symbols, newspaper clippings, or other documents to represent these different life events. Be creative! For example, I didn't have a photo of my grandmother emigrating from Italy, so, instead, I printed out a small clipping from her passenger ship manifest that shows her name, along with her mom's and sister's names. You could also just print out a clip art image of a ship or plane to represent immigration. I found a small newspaper clipping which mentioned my grandmother's work in the Coast Guard, so I printed it out and taped it, along with a photo of her in uniform, to that cup. It's a great way to introduce children to some of the records we use in genealogical research.
It was easiest for us to simple use clear packing tape to attach the photos, pictures, and newspaper clippings to each cup. Using glue was taking a little longer, because we had to hold the image around the cup until the glue dried. I also think the packing tape with hold up more in the long run as the cups are stacked and unstacked multiple times by the kids.
I also recommend writing a 1-2 word description of each event on the cup on the opposite side of the date.
Not only is this a great activity for teaching a child about one of his or her ancestors, but it also helps the child develop a sense of the past. Getting kids to look at dates and helping them understand the progression of years is an important step in understanding family history. You may find that the child would like to make a cup timeline of his or her own life, which would be a great idea!
For older children, I recommend making cups to represent important events in local or national history that influenced your ancestor's life. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard SPARS would never have been created if WWII hadn't happened, and my grandmother's life would have likely taken a completely different path if she hadn't joined the SPARS and subsequently met her future husband at a USO event. Adding these bigger events to your ancestor's timeline will help children realize the importance of historical events AND it will (hopefully) give them a sense of how their own lives are influenced by the current events of today.
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder
St. Patrick's Day is March 17, and I've prepared ancestor worksheets for those of you who have ancestors who emigrated from Ireland. As always, there are male and female versions, both with and without notes. The 'Sources' page can be found at this link. Enjoy!
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. May not be reproduced or redistributed without written consent of owner.
I decided to introduce the 'My Polish Ancestor' worksheets today, March 2, because it is Casimir Pulaski Day. This holiday commemorates the life of Casimir Pulaski, a Polish soldier and cavalryman who fought with the colonists in the U.S. Revolutionary War.
If you are like me, you may have ethnically-Polish ancestors who were born in what is now Poland, but what was then a different country, like Austria-Hungary or Prussia. Despite that, I decided to leave the wording on the worksheets as 'My ancestor was born in Poland,' so as not to confuse the young children that these worksheets are geared towards.
As always there are male and female versions of each worksheet - the female one featuring Polish-American opera singer Marcella Sembrich, and the male one featuring U.S. Civil War general (and Polish immigrant) Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski. The sheet for recording sources can be found at this link.
All worksheets can be found on the 'Ancestor Worksheet' page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com
©2015 Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. May not be reproduced without written consent of owner.
Today, March 1, is Saint David's Day. St. David is the patron saint of Wales and March 1st is traditionally a national holiday in Wales. I've created a set of kid-friendly 'My Welsh Ancestor' worksheets for those of you who may have a Welsh ancestor in your family tree. Even though Wales, Scotland, and England are all part of the United Kingdom, each area has its own history, traditions, and language, so I intend to make separate English and Scottish worksheets, too.
For a general overview of the history of Welsh immigration to America, see this Wikipedia page. Click on each image for a free PDF of each worksheet.
All ancestor worksheets are for personal use only and can be found on the 'Ancestor Worksheet' page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com . A general worksheet for recording source information can be downloaded here.
Also, with any of these ancestor sheets, if your family has an ancestor who came to a country other than America (Canada, Australia, etc.), please let me know and I can tweak the worksheets and send them to you!
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder
It's been a long winter - too long. If your kids are like mine, they are probably suffering from cabin fever and longing for more physical activity. This activity combines some physical activity (jumping) with family member identification and is appropriate for children ages one and up.
For this activity, you will need family photos, clear packing tape, and some sheets of craft foam. You can try to use construction paper, but I've found that it doesn't hold up to the jumping nearly as well as craft foam.
Since St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, we used some foam shamrocks that I had left over from a party from last year. You can find inexpensive, colorful sheets of craft foam at any craft store or even at Wal-Mart. (The shamrocks, by the way, can be purchased at OrientalTrading.com.)
I printed out some family photos - individual head shots - and then used clear packing tape to adhere each photo to its shamrock. And that's it! My daughter spread them out on the floor. I called out the name of a family member, and she looked for that person and jumped to them! Caretakers, get off of the couch!: Have the child call out a family member and YOU jump on that person. Kids love it when adults join in!
My daughter then arranged the shamrocks in a circle. She stood in the middle and I asked her to jump to someone who is 'Daddy's sister.' Then, I told her to find 'Grandpa Schroeder's mom' and after that, 'Mommy's mom.' This variation is just another way to reinforce just HOW different people in our family are related to each other.
As I've written before, teaching young children about family history MUST begin with teaching them about current family members and relationships. Doing simple family member recognition games help kids establish that foundation which you can later build upon with stories and facts. For older children, this particular activity can also be done with ancestor photos to make it more challenging.
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder
February is Black History Month, so I've created a 'My Black Ancestor' worksheet as the next installment in my Recording Ancestor Data worksheet series. You can read more about this new series here, but, as a short summary, these are simple worksheets made specifically for elementary-aged children to help them record basic facts about their ancestors. There are female and male version of the worksheets, and versions both with and without the option of documenting sources of information using footnotes and a separate 'Sources' worksheet.
All worksheets can be viewed and downloaded below and on the Ancestor Worksheets page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com.
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. May not be reproduced without written consent from owner.
Recently, I've been thinking about ways in which to help my children understand what I do when I research and record information about our ancestors. At ages four and seven, they are still too young and their attention spans are still too small to sit down with me at the computer and search on FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com. However, they both can write now and they are able to understand the basics when I show them a death certificate or census form, as long as I explain things in simple terms.
I am starting a series of worksheets that will make it easier for elementary-aged children to record basic information about their ancestors. Older children will even be able to record where that information is coming from, which is a great way to get them used to recording sources of information. Of course, documentation is a skill that has great use in many other fields of study, not just genealogy.
My vision is to create worksheets about ancestors of specific nationalities; today's sheets apply to Chinese ancestors to coincide with start of Chinese New Year this week. I also plan on creating forms specific to ancestors who served in various U.S. wars, and probably for Mayflower and Jamestown settlement ancestors.
Why create so many different forms, especially when most of the wording on the worksheets will be the same? The clip art images will make each printable unique and more visually-appealing to kids. Today's generation of children is the most ethnically-diverse the nation has ever seen. Exploring their family history involves teaching them about at least several different nationalities and/or cultures. The different worksheets will help the children better compartmentalize and remember each ancestor, and they will serve as starting points for discussing the different cultures.
In the coming weeks, look for worksheets for Polish, Irish, and Black (people of African descent) ancestry. I will always include male and female versions of each worksheet and I will include versions both with and without footnote numbers. Also, I encourage you to fill out these forms with your children and grandchildren, even if you don't know all of the information about a particular ancestor. Don't know when great-great-grandma came to America? That's ok - leave the space blank and tell the child that more research needs to be done!
Click on each image to be directed to a PDF of each worksheet. A separate sheet on which to record sources can also be downloaded from the link below.
These worksheets are not difficult to make, and I encourage you to make your own to fit your own family's ancestry. As I mentioned above, my plan is to make many more, and if you have a particular nationality or historical time period you would like me to 'fastrack' in my creation queue, let me know and I can get to work on it!
All of the worksheets will be posted on the 'Ancestor Worksheets' page of GrowingLittleLeaves.com.
©2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder. Worksheets for personal use only. May not be reproduced without written consent of owner.
If you are an elementary educator, you've likely seen versions of this particular activity on educational blogs or Pinterest. It's a visual, hands-on way of teaching young children about geographic scale using a series of circles that increase in size as each geographic feature increases in size. My seven-year-old son brought one home from school the other day, so I thought about doing this at home, not only as a way to learn about geographic scale, but also as a way for my kids to learn about where some of their ancestors lived.
First, you need to cut out differently-sized circles on construction paper or scrapbook paper. I used my set of kitchen pots, along with some smaller bowls and cups, to trace circles on the paper. Before making ancestor sets, I highly recommend making a circle set that is applicable to your child. This way, they will be able to compare and contrast their set with their ancestor sets.
You must choose the geographic divisions you will highlight in each set. We did city, state, country, continent, and planet. If you will be doing an international set, as we did here, you may have to equate 'state' with a similar, but different, geographic division - we used the Italian regiones or regions. Of course, I also recommend doing this activity with fellow U.S. ancestors, and for those cases, you could probably even add in the county level and even a street level as the smallest division.
I obtained all of the map images from Google Maps. I printed out names of the geographic divisions and the names of each location, and we glued them under the maps. We dedicated the smallest circle on top to our ancestor's photo and name. We laminated our set for durability, but that's not necessary. Simply punch a hole in the top of each circle and connect them all with a book ring.
Don't forget that this and all my other genealogy activities can be found at GrowingLittleLeaves.com
Copyright 2015, Emily Kowalski Schroeder
A month or two ago, via Pinterest, I came across a fun post on the blog, This Simple Home. The blog owner and author, Annette, shows us how to make her Love Rainbow Craft. I just loved it so much that I decided to re-create it with my daughter, using photos of ancestors instead of names and an ancestor quote instead of the Bible verse. I thought it would be an especially fun activity with Valentine's Day rolling around.
For this activity you will need: a white poster board, scissors, a marker, a pencil, a ruler, yarn, tape, small photos of ancestors, and an assortment of scrapbook paper.
First, I drew a simple 'puffy' cloud on the poster board in pencil and then cut it out. Next, we chose six patterns of scrapbook paper. My daughter and I decided to do rainbow colors, so we chose patterns in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, but obviously you can do whatever patterns or color you like.
I cut the scrapbook into 3-inch squares. Then, I folded each square, drew half of a heart on the fold and cut to get a nice symmetric heart. (I did let my daughter help with the cutting, since this is a skill they are working on in preschool, but she became bored with it after a few hearts, so I took over.)
Next, I printed out small photos of my daughter's ancestors. As we have done before, we talked about what an ancestor is and I named all of the people in the photos as we glued them on the hearts. If you do not have enough photos of direct ancestors (grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.), feel free to use photos of aunts and uncles as well.
We used plain old Scotch tape to attach the yarn to the cloud and hearts, and I wrote an ancestor-related quote on the cloud. We used a hole punch to made a hole in the top so that we could hang it.
©2015 copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder