While trying to figure out what I wanted to write about today, I was playing a game with my toddler grandson. I pointed at him and said, “Who are you?”. He answered me and I then asked “Well, who am I?”. I followed with each member of our household, some by pointing at the actual person, some by pointing at pictures. Each time he giggled and gave his answer.
After the game ended and it was time to get back to work, I started thinking about the games I play with my other grandchildren. My 3-year-old grandson loves it when I ask him, while pointing to his mother, “That is your Mommy, but whose Mommy am I?”.
It was then that I realized we actually start teaching our children family relationships and genealogy from the day they are born. From the first time you hold your newborn child or grandchild, niece or nephew, we say things like “Come to Mama” or “Come to Grandpa”.
When our children are old enough to understand that we are their parents, we start teaching them things like “Grandma is my mommy” or “Aunt Carol is my sister like Jenny is your sister”. For each stage of their growth, we add just a bit more information and the games change a little according to their age.
The following are some easy activities you can do with your children to help them understand your family connections.
Family tree activities for toddlers
A couple of years ago, I was looking for activities to keep a very wild toddler busy during the day. Coloring held his attention for a little while but was soon forgotten and my floor would be covered in abandoned paper and crayons. I started noticing however that the one thing he played with the most was my refrigerator magnets.
A quick search of my craft supplies came up with a pack of magnets that I had bought for one project or another, a pack of wood circle cutouts, a hot glue gun, a permanent marker, and a bottle PVA glue (white school glue).
Because this wild toddler missed his Mom and Dad while they worked, I decided to print pictures of each of them that would fit on one of the wooden circles and add magnets to the back.
He loved those so much, that we added brother, grandparents, and aunt and uncle magnets to the batch. They were a hit! He even created a game with them where he would bring me a magnet, I would ask who it was and if he answered correctly, he would let me hold on to the magnet until he had made it through them all.
Here is how I made them.
- 2-in Wooden Craft Circles
- Craft Magnets (Strong enough to hold your wooden circle)
- White School Glue (Mod Podge works well, too!)
- Crafting Paint brush or Foam Crafting Brush (For Spreading Glue)
- Hot Glue Gun with Glue Sticks
- Permanent Marker
- Printer and Paper
- Print and cut out a picture of each family member that will fit on your 2-inch circle of wood.
- Using the white school glue (or Mod Podge), secure the picture to the wooden circle.
- Once the glue has dried, use the paintbrush to add a layer of glue over the top of the photo to seal it. Be careful not to go over your picture multiple times with the glue as this will smear the ink.
- When the circles have dried completely, attach a magnet to the back with hot glue. Make sure the magnet is attached well! You don’t want your little ones to be able to remove them.
- Using the marker, add the relationship of the person on the magnet. (Example- Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister)
Family tree activities for preschool
Preschool children are at such a fun age. They are learning how to use scissors and are being introduced to craft materials they have never used before. Kids this age also love making messes, so for this activity, let’s get a little messy and have some fun.
Hand Family Tree
- White Craft Paper
- Brown Craft Paint
- Green Construction Paper
- Black Marker
- Paper Plates
- School glue or glue sticks
- Squirt brown paint on one of the paper plates and spread it around evenly.
- Dip the child’s hand in the paint (palm side down) and have them press it on the white paper towards the bottom center with their fingers together. This will create a tree trunk.
- Next dip the child’s hand again and have them spread their fingers out. Place the heal of their hand at the top of the “Trunk” and have them press their hand to the paper. This is the start of your branches.
- If you need more branches, dip the hand and repeat on either side of the first branches.
- Let the paint dry.
- Using the green construction paper, cut out leaf shapes.
- On each leaf, write one of the child’s relatives and that relatives given name. (Example- Write Mom, then Carol). Do this for each immediate family member. You can even use glitter glue to make them shiny.
- Let the child glue the leaves to the tree talking about each family member as they glue. Some things you could ask are “What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy?” or “What is your favorite game to play with Brother?”.
Family tree activities for kindergarten
This project involves recruiting the whole family but is a really fun and easy, and a great way to introduce your child to generations.
- 1 Sheet of Poster Board
- Colored Construction Paper
- School Glue or Glue Stick
- Pencil, pen or marker for tracing your hand.
- Have each member of your family (Mom, Dad, Siblings, Grandparents) trace their hand on construction paper and cut it out. (You can even color code this such as siblings get blue paper, parents get yellow, grandparents get green). Ask the family members to write their full name on their hand cut out and their relationship to the child.
- On the poster board, create a tree trunk using brown construction paper.
- Glue the hands in place in order of generations and grouped with immediate family. For example, start with grandparents at the top, then parents, then siblings and the child under them towards the bottom of the tree.
- Talk to the child about the position each hand has been places. (Grandma Joan is your Daddy’s Mom and goes above him because she is older.)
*Note: Grandma and Grandpa live too far away? Ask them to trace their hand and send it by mail. Your child will be excited to receive mail and the grandparents feel included.
Family tree printables for kids
My grand-kids are with me often and on many occasions have wanted to do whatever I am doing (and much of the time is genealogy). Here is a printable I made to help them pass the time.
I hope you have as much fun with these projects as I have creating them with my grand-kids. They are only little once so make a mess, get your hands dirty, and above all, enjoy the journey!
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