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Genealogy

Kids + Genealogy: Make a Photo Timeline for an Ancestor

This is a fun activity you can do with your kids to connect them to one of their ancestors, whether it’s a close relative (maybe even you?) or someone who completed your life before your child was born. It does involve a little math, but I did this activity with my almost-four-year-old and she enjoyed it a lot.

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On my most recent birthday, we constructed a timeline from 0 to 32 and I had Eva help me take photos out of our photo box to arrange them chronologically. I wanted to show her that I was once a baby and then an almost-four-year-old like her, but I had grown up and up and up to the ancient age of 32. She got a kick out of guessing how old I was in each photo and also had a lot of great questions about things that happened before she was born.

There have been studies showing that kids who know their family’s history are happier in general. Apparently there’s something about knowing that people in your family have had ups and downs that helps kids cope emotionally in life. I think this activity would also humanize historical time periods and help kids understand that events which seem like ancient history aren’t so far removed from our life today.

We used kraft paper, markers, and washi tape, but if I was going to do this for a different relative, I would print and cut new photos to keep the original photos out of the hands of my littles. I would also follow the timeline up with a simple book-making activity to let Eva paste the photos into a construction paper book chronologically and add her own numbers and drawings to tell more of the family story.

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