History Combined with Family History

As our history studies approach more modern times, it’s been awesome to bring some of it to life with stories from our own family’s history.  My last living grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and though it’s still difficult for him to talk about, just being able to tell my kids that great grandpa was there makes it all seem real.  Within my own family are stories of immigration to America by boat, accusal of witchcraft, tales of the Blackhawk Indian Wars, journals from handcart pioneers, and stories of the Great Depression.  Reading these stories of my generations of grandparents, often written in their own words, is remarkable.  It brings history to life while also giving us a better understanding of our heritage and a smattering of gratitude for all the luxuries we have.

My kids can't remember their great grandparents, and never had a chance to meet their great great grandparents, but when we combine stories from our family with our history studies, those family ties become strong and they feel a connection to our family legacy.

My kids can’t remember their great grandparents, and never had a chance to meet their great great grandparents, but when we combine stories from our family with our history studies, those family ties become strong and they feel a connection to our family legacy.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]Teach your kids that they are one thread in the big fabric of your family.[/mantra-pullquote]Finding out about your family history is like a big treasure hunt.  With the internet and the vast amount of information sharing that is now possible, it’s becoming easier and easier to trace your family lines, find stories from your family, and make your own history come to life.

Your History Explorations

Teach your kids that they are one thread in the big fabric of your family.  Here are a few ways to help them be connected with your family’s history:

  • Have them read journals from grandparents and other relatives, then have them write in their own journals regularly.
  • Look through old photo albums and tell stories from your childhood, their childhood, and from their ancestors’ lives.
  • Put together a timeline of some family members you know of and the things they lived through (like my grandparents living through the depression and world war II).
  • Make a storybook about a grandparent or great grandparent.
  • Have one of their living relatives record an audio or video recording telling stories about themselves, their parents, and grandparents.
  • Hold a family night called “I Remember When.”  Have everyone share their favorite family memory.
  • Make a family tree.  If you have photographs, include them.
  • Visit a cemetery where your family’s ancestors were buried.  Make rubbings of their gravestones.
  • Create a family map showing the places your ancestors have lived.

On the Web

Check out these sites if you want to delve deeper into your family’s history and research more about your own family:  

Writer’s Workshop

Along with searching, you can also teach your kids to start their own history.  They can keep a little journal of their lives for their grandkids to read someday!  They could make a time capsule to open down the road…just get a strong, weatherproof box and fill it with items that represent themselves and this year.  Put in some pictures and a little description of what life is like.  Then write a date on the outside for when it should be opened, and put it away somewhere.  You can find a spot for it in the attic, bury it in a marked area in your yard (don’t forget where it is!), or just stick it in a closet.  Opening it later will be awesome whether you open it in 1 year or 10 years. 

Once today is over it has become history…make the most of it!   

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