In a rare, quiet moment last Sunday, when my six little kids were off either wrestling or dressing-up, I took an ancestor’s biography off the shelf to see if I could find any neat stories for my next family history activity. I was blown away when I began reading about this ancestor, about whom I had previously known nothing. He was too amazing to highlight in just one, simple activity! I wanted to share all the neat things he had done, but if I just plopped my kids down and made them listen to a list of facts, I knew I’d lose them quickly.
How could I make learning about him more fun and engaging? My craft supply drawer is pretty pathetic, but I always have a few grocery paper bags on hand. My son drew a large cartoon man on an opened bag and cut it out, then further cut it into several pieces. I wrote various facts about him and accomplishments of his on all the body parts. Then, I prepared a bunch of masking tape rolls on the hearth and gathered the kids around. One-by-one, they came up, chose an over-turned body part, turned it over and read the fact on it, and taped it in its proper place on the wall.
It was a hit! It was engaging, because all the kids got turns choosing a piece and teaching all of us about the ancestor. It was informative, because I took a minute between each turn to further explain the fact. And it was fun, because everyone laughed as they tried to figure out where the pieces fit in the “body puzzle” on the wall. And afterwards, the kids giggled even more as they mixed up all the parts into a Picasso-esque piece of art.
1) If you have the supplies, you can make the body bigger and nicer than my simple paper bag. Perhaps your kids can help decorate the various body pieces with clothing scraps, buttons, glitter, or yarn before you write down the facts.
2) For older children, you can hand out individual paragraphs you prepared ahead of time with each fact explained on it. The child can read it, summarize it, and write it on the body part themselves. When it’s time to assemble to body parts on the wall together, each child can share what they wrote and as they put the piece in its proper place.
Find more fun and meaningful family history activities for kids in our book, Turning Little Hearts – Over 90 Activities to Connect Children with Their Ancestors, available at Cedar Fort Publishing as a paperback or a digital download. Also available on Amazon. Visit www.turninglittlehearts.com