I would like to share some insights from a family history activity that was put on by a ward in Sandy, Utah. The details of this activity were shared with us by Sister Sue Maxwell who is a member of the Granite 6th ward, Sandy Utah Granite Stake. Sister Maxwell posts her own family history blog and is very active in teaching family history wherever she can.
According to Sister Maxwell, her bishop felt strongly that a ward activity is for the whole ward and should include not only the adults but the children as well. Sister Maxwell put together a set of 5 classes that people could attend for a set amount of time and then rotate to the next class. Each class was 15 minutes long with a few minutes to change rooms. She tried to focus the families with small children into the “food” room first and then move on from there. She had a class on indexing, one on using the fan chart and new FamilySearch, one on involving children in genealogy, and one on the gathering information for one’s family history (unique ways of gathering information from family members and building their story). Sister Maxwell also involved the Young Men and Young Women by having them teach two of the classes. This was a great way to get the teens involved with the activity.
There was a table in the back of each room with activities for the children of the parents who were attending the class. This kept the families together but the children were occupied while mom and dad focused on what was being taught. She also used some of the Young Women to keep the children involved with the games.
Her Primary president put together and taught a class on “Involving Children in Genealogy” and put together activities for each room. All of them were family history related in some way. For example, one of the activities for the children was looking for things in the Where’s Waldo books. As each child found what they were looking for, she gave them a census record and had them look for a specific name among all the names on the page. It was so fun. The teacher also used an object lesson by having each child brush their hair without bending their arms at the elbow. This taught the children the concept of using someone to serve as a proxy to get something important done.
Sister Maxwell was surprised that the families who attended were mostly the young families with children! They had lots of good things to say about the activity. Those who came were so exciting to be able to learn about family history without having to worry about their children and chase them around. The whole activity was over in about 90 minutes, which seemed to be just the right amount of time to keep the kids engaged and still have the parents learn some valuable things about family history. The adults were so impressed that the young men and young women of the ward were so involved and so helpful.
The bishop later told Sister Maxwell that he went home and discussed the activity with his children and was surprised at all the family history concepts they learned. All in all, Sister Maxwell’s ward considered this ward family history activity a great success. This is a great example of people using creative ideas to teach basic family history skills to ward members.