Thursday, June 30, 2011

Engaging Children In Genealogy With Play

It's summertime and the kids are out of school. One's getting married, two are off working on the Cape, the three middle ones keep themselves entertained with friends, and the three youngest follow me around saying, "play with me!"

My "play" is everything related to family history. I love going to cemeteries, talking to new friends about what searches they're on, or making charts to make one more part of the research process easier. Even when I'm not researching, my mind is on "them".

I can't tell you how many times my little ones have asked, "family history?" when I'm working or daydreaming. But you know what's funny? I feel my ancestors' presence when my children really need me or just want to play with me. It's as if they're watching to see how I treat them. What choice will I make? More often than not I imagine a giggle and a bit of encouragement to disengage from the past that goes something like, "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. Go play."

This morning I thought it might be fun to bring both worlds together every once in a while. What if I got my fix talking about  their Great Great Great Grandpa Charles and how he might have played marbles as we learn how to play with them? It would be fun to see where the conversation would go. Maybe they'd be able to relate a little more to him?

I did a quick search of games that early Americans would have played (and still do). All of the games were simple. Most needed just a good imagination and things you'd find around the house.

These are NOT my children! But they are cute.
I can do this. And I know it'll be fun. The possibilities are endless. Family history at it's best brings the joy of life and living from the past into the present. This is just one way to show my children why I'm so in love with this work.

And the next time I bring out "The Chart",  I'll point to a few more names and be able to say, "Remember when we threw spears at those melons? Maybe some of the Skar children did that!" And they might ask, "Where's Hawaii?", and "Did they go in an airplane?" And I'll smile and say, "Let me show and tell you..."

What games did you play?

Traditional Games of Norway (and other countries)
Traditional Games of Hawaii