A couple of weeks ago, I was watching my six year old grandson, Liam, when I received the gift every genealogy grandma hopes for! Following our usual routine, I asked what he would like to do and he announced to me that he saw on television where people could get on their computer and find out all about their great grandfather and that is what he wanted to do. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement! Being a teacher who recognizes a teachable moment when she sees one, I took complete and full advantage to introduce him to my world of genealogy.
I had been preparing to approach my grandchildren about genealogy for a long time. I had read various articles on how to interest children in their family history, ways to include them in research, and how to share genealogy using kid-friendly charts, ancestor cards, and books. I purchased the book Zap The Grandma Gap by Janet Hovorka who also writes The Chart Chick blog, signed up for the emails on the Zap the Grandma Gap webpage, and downloaded their 35 page activity book that can be downloaded and printed for children to use. All I needed was a kid and now I had one!
Liam had no doubt seen all my binders and other tools of my genealogy hobby, but had never asked about them or their purpose. As I showed him all my files and binders and talked about the word genealogy, he seemed to get more and more excited. When I asked if he would like a binder to get started, the answer was a loud "Yes"!
Janet Hovorka's activity book teaches children to begin where all good genealogists begin which is what you know about yourself. So with the book printed, hole-punched, and inserted in his white binder, Liam and I sat down and started filling out the blanks and drawing the pictures that told the story of him. Only being in first grade, he needed help spelling and, at times, it was slow going. We took a couple of breaks to eat a snack and for him to play with his toys, but he was always ready and eager to return to his genealogy. After a while, we decided that he had written enough for the day and it was time to create a cover for his binder. He thought about what it should have and decided it had to have the word genealogist on it as well as his name in cursive. He also included figures of his ancestors and a “timeline” at the top. We inserted it into the sleeve of the binder and he was quite pleased with himself!
When it came time for his mom to pick him up and go home, he proudly took it with him. I was later told that he announced to his dad, “Grandma made me a genealogist!” With their busy schedule, Liam’s baby sister, soccer, and school, they don’t have time to do much with the interview sheets and other pages in his binder, but that’s okay. They will get around to it, and most importantly, I know the seed was planted and you can bet I am not going to let that little seed whither and die away as long as I can keep him interested. Whether he later catches the genealogy bug in its full potency or not, Liam has a good beginning in discovering his family history. Later on I will post about the biography scrapbook Liam is now making about his great-grandfather. Stay tuned!