Sunday, May 1, 2016

Family History for Kids: Simple Family Photo Book

The Simple Family Photo Book is probably the easiest of the projects I've made. I just collected photos with ancestors or family members as children doing unusual things. I tried to find those that I thought would be interesting for the kids to see. I used the "add text" feature in my photo editing software to add a simple caption to explain each photo. Then I printed the photos and placed in page protectors to make a simple book that can be read to my grandchildren. As with the other books, I think I want to make it into a board book so that it can be as sturdy and long lasting as possible.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Family History for Kids: Historical Paper (Felt) Doll

Paper dolls were a favorite toy in times past. Talking to children about old fashioned toys and telling stories as you play is another way to connect young children to family memories. Other toys like jacks and marbles or card games, etc. also work in the same way to start a conversation with children.

Story: When I was nine years old (in about 1969) my best friend's mother helped us make what she called a "Clorox" doll. Sister Wright cut up an old Clorox bottle and cut a doll shape out of the plastic - one for Jody and one for me. She helped us cut and glue flesh colored felt to the plastic body and a colored felt swimsuit on top so that they were modest! She helped us make and attach yarn hair and draw a face. Then she demonstrated how to trace around the doll shape to make simple clothing out of felt. If not too heavy, the felt clothing clings to the body of the doll and you don't have to worry about tabs on the clothing. She gave us more colored felt, Elmer's paste, bits of lace and ribbon, sequins (for buttons) and turned us loose. We had a grand afternoon and I had a lovely toy to take home.

The doll could be made as a regular paper doll as well, using cardboard instead of plastic and the beautiful printed scrap booking paper for the paper clothing. Just don't forget to add tabs to the shoulders to hold the paper to the body of the doll. For our doll, Miss Abigail and I made felt clothing that would be historical and/or ethnic to further connect to ancestors and memories.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Family History for Kids: Seek and Find Photo Book

The Seek and Find Photo Book is also a fun project. I wanted a way to help my young grandchildren interact with our historical family photos. Just looking at pictures and scrapbooks can be fun for older kids and adults, but the little ones are not as interested unless they have some guidance. That's where the concept of seek and find comes into play.

I chose several historical photos that had a lot going on or those that featured subjects that would be interesting to children. Then, I studied the photos and tried to find details that were repeated or otherwise engaging. For example, in the picture above, there are 8 children in a parade, 2 white socks, 3 cowboy hats, 1 clown, a hobo stick and only two smiles among the bunch! Other pictures in the book include finding the number ten on my dad's basketball jersey, counting buttons or pockets in a portrait of grandparents, etc. Just look for the details and make a list. After finding all the details, one can still visit about the picture for as long as attention allows.

I used a word processing document to build the pages and then printed them out and put the pages in sheet protectors. I actually want to investigate making a board book with these pictures so that the book is a little more sturdy.

The Family Story Swap game comes from the July 2013 issue of The Friend magazine. It is a game with simple interview questions or story prompts to answer by turns. The purpose is to help family members get to know each other through conversation and memories.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Family History for Kids: Object/Story Match

This is my favorite game of all. It is pretty simple, but young children like simple! I've started with just my husband and me, but the "game" can be expanded later to include our parents and grandparents on back. I merely have to collect more stories, objects and pictures. The point is to listen to very short stories and then find a simple object that matches the story and place it on the correct picture.

I began by brainstorming stories for both of us. I included a story of my husband working in a gas station in high school, another of my husband's love of spooky ghost stories, a story of when I stepped on a nail and one of how I came to love geology and rocks, etc. Just really simple memories. Stories can be short or long, depending on the age and interest of the children. I wrote these stories on slips of paper and folded them. Then I located a little object to represent each story. For example, the fish represents a story of a fishing trip my husband remembers with his grandfather. Because I have to multiply the game for each of my children, these objects have to be very simple and inexpensive. With just the two pictures, the family would divide into teams. With additional pictures and objects, each person might have a picture of their own to tend.

So you play the game in turns with someone picking up a paper and reading the story. Then everyone can decide which object goes with that story and the person with the correct picture collects the object and places it on their picture. Play continues until all the stories, objects and pictures are matched. If you have a lot of time and interest, more stories can be included. If time is short or the children have limited attention, just decrease the number of stories, saving the others for another time.

I like the aspect of being able to add to the game, sending additional stories, objects, and pictures of other family members as I get them finished.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Family History for Kids: Grandma's Treasure Box

This activity actually won't go into the hope chest or be sent off in the mail. Grandma's Treasure Box is just a box of keepsakes that I can pull out on a Sunday afternoon and paw through with my children or grandchildren. This box will just stay at my house to be pulled out when the grandchildren come to visit me. Hopefully I will manage to collect enough little treasures that they can be split up later.

Everyone has keepsakes from times past. Some of them might be valuable and some are just silly or sentimental. The point is that an object sparks a memory or story that you can share with someone in your family. The items I have in this treasure box include a few things that I've collected in my own life and a few additional things that came from my father's things after he passed away. For instance, I have an old wristwatch from his dresser drawer. When we were little children and got sick my mother would make us a bed on the couch so that she could care for us without having to climb the stairs to our bedroom. When dad came home and could see that we were sick, he would take his watch off (or his pocket watch if he were working on the farm) and put it under our cheek where we could hear the ticking of the watch. I guess he thought it might take our mind off being sick and bring a bit of comfort. It worked! Dad did that every time one of the children was sick and, to this day, I love to hear a ticking clock.

There are other things in the box that belonged to his parents and grandparents - a silver spoon with my great grandmother's monogram, a boot hook, a pair of old-fashioned sock garter's that belonged to my grandfather, an FFA ribbon from my father's prized cow, handmade toys, a fountain pen. Just some interesting things that happened to fall to me. I would emphasize that these items don't have to be valuable. These are not necessarily heirlooms, though they could be. They are just a few things that connect to memories and stories to share with other members of the family. They are simply a way to connect to the names and faces in the photos.

Do any of you have these simple family treasures in a box or drawer? What can you share with your children or grandchildren?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Family History for Kids: "I Mustache You a Question"

Interviewing is a technique family historians use to collect oral history. I've seen the "I Mustache You a Question" all over the internet on t-shirts, greeting cards, notepads, etc. What a fun idea for children to use to interview family members to learn about events and stories from the family's past. For the display, I found these mustache shapes and sticks in the party favor aisle at Hobby Lobby and used them as a favor for those who came to the display. It would be easy enough to make one that is a little more sturdy to use in an activity with children at home. Just take turns holding the mustache and ask another family member an interview question. If the children are very young you'll need to prompt them to ask a question. I've included some ideas, but there are more questions in published lists on the internet.

"What is your very first memory?"
"What do you like about Christmas?"
"Tell me something about your best friend?"
"What did you like about school?"
"Who is your hero?"
"What is your favorite song?"

You get the idea. Here are some links:

50 Questions for Family History Interviews
150 Questions to Ask Family Members
 Interview Questions for Family History
Good Questions for Family Interviews

Monday, April 25, 2016

Family History for Kids

I mentioned that I've been working hard on an assignment for a Family Discovery Day hosted by our local Family History Center. The point of a Family Discovery Day is to help people learn how to research and build a family tree and to discover, document and share family stories. My assignment was to make a display about involving children in family history. I came up with 9 different activities to share family history with children. Over this next week, I'm going to post one each day. This was a lot of work at a really busy time of year, but I'm so glad to have these games and activities ready to share with my own children and grandchildren. And I now have several items to add to Miss Abigail's hope chest. What does family history have to do with a hope chest?

Well, I think family records and stories are a vital part of a hope chest. If your family is or was Christian, a family Bible was probably part of someone's hope chest. Other religions have similar items, relics and documents. Most families had at least a box with old pictures and documents in an attic or basement. The box got passed along from generation to generation.

I want Miss Abigail to know who she is and where she came from. I want her to know the stories that were told to me when I was young and to be able to share those stories with her children. So, as I mentioned in this post, I've made scrapbooks for her early childhood and she has learned to do that for herself now. I've worked hard to collect pictures and stories of our ancestors and have them in computer files and hopefully will find the time to create a book someday. My goal in this area has been to create some activities for my young grandchildren that will help them learn about our family. Young mothers don't often have the time to create these kinds of activities and my daughters-in-law are as busy as most. Abigail will have the same challenge. If I can create these books and games to include in her hope chest, it will make her life easier when she has young children. My plan through the upcoming year is to multiply these activities by four, include one in the hope chest and send the others in the mail for our sons to use in a family home evening. No preparation for them, all they have to do is follow the instructions. I've sent one so far and it was a success. I'm excited to send these others.

The first of the activities is pretty easy - family photo coloring pages. Just choose family pictures that feature subjects that are interesting to children. The first example above is a picture of my mom as a child in front of her school in Wells, Nevada. She was a bluebird in a school play. My grandmother spent quite a lot of time making the costume out of crepe paper and poster board, including a little hat with a beak. Miss Abigail looks a lot like my mom in this picture. The picture below is of my father and his brother sawing a log for their winter woodpile. with interesting subjects work best. Scan the picture with a high "dpi." Then use photo editing software to create a "pencil sketch" of the photo. Print it out and you have a great coloring page. Then you can visit with your children or grandchildren as you color together, telling the story of the picture.

I mentioned that my grandchildren were visiting. I had printed several coloring pages for the display and my little 4-yr old grandson colored them all. He listened to the stories and wanted to take them home to Arizona and put them on the wall in his bedroom. His interest in the pictures was piqued - mission accomplished! (BTW - for the pictures that I put in the hope chest and the pictures that get sent in the mail to our daughters-in-law, I will have to write the story and include it on the back of the photo to remind Abigail after some years, in case she doesn't remember the details of the picture.

You may never have thought of your own family's history. I hope these upcoming posts will inspire you to put together a project for your children or grandchildren. Learn about and then share your family history! If you need help, just contact a local Family History Center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will be in the yellow pages and the help and instruction is always free.

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