Go to any genealogy-related event and you’ll find a sea of white hair.
But family history doesn’t have to bore everyone under 50! Kids can have fun learning about their heritage playing genealogy games. Here are my favourites.
1: Quizzes. Draw up a three- or four-generation family tree with photos if you can. Then make a list of fun facts about the people in your tree. For my Mother’s Day quiz, I only included photos of the mothers in the tree and asked questions such as “Which mother raised 11 children?” and “Which mother had only boys?”
2: Jigsaw Puzzles. Find interesting family photographs and have jigsaw puzzles made out of them (Google “custom jigsaw puzzles” to find online companies that do this). Then have the children compete to see who can assemble them the quickest and guess who’s in the picture.
3: Scavenger Hunts. Make a list of the family heirlooms you have around the house and have children compete to see who can find them all based on clues you provide.
4: Identify the Baby. Collect baby pictures of various members of the family and have the kids try to guess who is who. Tip: if you make all the photos black and white it’s tougher.
5: Trivia Game. Gather interesting tidbits of information about older generations and ancestors. You can have each question printed on a playing card with a final card containing the answer key (Google “custom playing cards” to find companies that make these). Players take turns asking and answering questions or you can use your questions with a commercial trivia board game.
6: Go Fish - with Ancestors. This variation on the card game “Go Fish” replaces regular cards with your ancestors’ photos. Instead of asking “Do you have a Jack”? Players will be asking “Do you have a Great-Granddad Higginbottom?”
7: Pin the Ancestor on the Tree. Take two large foam boards. On one draw an outline of your family tree. On the other paste photos of family members. Cut the second board into pieces so each has a photo. Put all the photo pieces into a bag and have each child take turns drawing a piece and attempting to pin the photo in the right place on the tree.
And there you have it: Seven fun genealogy games to keep your children busy learning family history while they’re out of school!
Author of ‘Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher’s Guide’ and ‘York’s Sacrifice: Militia Casualties of the War of 181’2, Janice Nickerson lives and breathes genealogy. She believes that we all have interesting ancestors, we just need to learn their secrets. Find her online at UpperCanadaGenealogy.com and facebook.com/JaniceCNickerson