One of my favorite things about the RootsTech conference is the opportunity to meet with friends and talk to people who share my interests. At this year’s conference, I had the chance to sit down and chat with three wonderful genealogy friends. Like me, they are mothers of young children, genealogists, and bloggers, and they are just as enthusiastic as I am about involving young people in genealogy!
Nicole Dyer, Jana Greenhalgh, Emily K. Schroeder, Melissa Finlay
I asked these ladies what motivates them to want to inspire other mothers to involve children in genealogy. All three of them clearly have a passion for it. The reality is, these ladies are teachers at heart. They’re not employed full time to teach classrooms full of children, but teaching is a major part of their lives … because they’re moms! And because they’re moms who recognize and appreciate the great benefits of family history to children, they’re trying to spread the word!
Melissa started doing genealogy as a 13-year old when she found a box of genealogy papers from her father’s side of the family. She realized “These are my people!” She was motivated to know more about them. Her mom would drop her off at the Idaho State Archives so she could do genealogy research. Melissa loves to share family stories with her kids, and making emotional connections that turn hearts is her motivation. She loves to see people (including kids) make those connections. She and her family are the creators of the amazing Little Family Tree app (which we have blogged about HERE.)
Nicole fell in love with her ancestors’ stories at age 12, and by age 16, when she didn’t make the volleyball team, she got into genealogy research … after all, her ancestors still loved her even though she didn’t make the team! Her mother Diana (who she now blogs with) was instrumental in mentoring her and giving her ideas for family history projects as a youth. Nicole is a former school teacher, and having come from a family that played games a lot, she now looks for ways to teach her own children and turn family history into games. Check out her cool map game in a recent Family Locket blog post. Their blog really is a wonderful resource, and I put it at the top of my genealogy blog reading list.
Emily found genealogy as a young adult. She studied science and got into genealogy after seeing similarities between the two fields. Becoming a mother gave her a whole new motivation (having children does change our lives, doesn’t it?!) Having started her own genealogy blog, Emily noticed a missing niche in the genealogy community, and Growing Little Leaves was born. She lived in an area with a lot of recent immigrants, which made her realize that her kids didn’t know their stories. Emily recognized a great need — are we thinking about who we are going to pass our research to? The next generation needs to be taught and gain an appreciation for their genealogy. Emily is a crafter with lots of great ideas. Her blog is one of my first go-to’s when I need a genealogy activity for my kids on Sunday afternoons.
As part of our conversation at RootsTech, I asked these ladies to share their FAVORITE family history activity for kids (and that’s not an easy question for ladies with so many great ideas!) Here they are:
Emily’s favorite – “We go to cemeteries!” Even if there are no relatives there, it’s a learning experience. You can do math by looking at years on stones, look for clues of where people were born, learn from the symbols, etc. Kids love to be outside.
Nicole’s favorite – Tell kids stories that they relate to … something that will interest them. Her 6-year old is interested in policemen and jails. Nicole researched a 4th great-grandfather who went to jail. She told her son the story and showed him pictures. He asked about it for days afterwards … “tell me the story again!”
Melissa’s favorite – Road-trip with the family and include as many family history stops as possible. Last year, the Finlays took a 17-day 5,000-mile road-trip together, making lots of memories and hitting family history stops along the way. Wherever your destination is, find family history activities to incorporate … it makes for a memorable and educational vacation.
At RootsTech, these three women teamed up to teach a session called “Kid Genealogists: Inspiring the Next Generation.” They shared their thoughts about how important this concept is, and included countless ideas for involving the kids in family history:
- Making family history fun (not boring).
- Creating illustrations of ancestors.
- Making coloring books.
- Making videos.
- Role plays.
- Homemade puppet theaters.
- The list goes on and on! Their syllabus and extra material are on Nicole’s blog at http://familylocket.com/kid-genealogists-rootstech/.