With the holiday season in full swing, you may be planning a family get-together. Besides the eating and visiting, have you thought of creating a fun family history experience for all ages? Today I’m sharing a fabulous activity created by Lynnette, one of our FamilyLocket subscribers. Although Lynnette did this activity for Thanksgiving, the ideas could be adapted for any season or family gathering.
Lynnette has three married daughters and twelve grandchildren age 2-17 and all were coming for the Thanksgiving holiday. She wanted to do activities to help her family get to know their Mayflower relative, John Howland. She also wanted to involve her son-in-laws and capture the attention of the children as well as the teens. Three elements made this activity successful.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
Who doesn’t love a great picture book and Lynnette figured that the dramatic story of John Howland falling overboard then climbing up a rope to save his life would appeal to her grandchildren. She sent a copy of the book to each family ahead of time and prepared pedigree charts to put in the cover of the book to show the relationship from the grandchildren to John Howland and other Mayflower ancestors.
Lynnette also sent an email early in November to family members inviting them to do a Mayflower Ancestor Scavenger Hunt on Relative Finder. The email gave information about how to use this great website to discover their Mayflower ancestors.
Nicole and I love to use Relative Finder to capture the attention of non-genealogists in the family and have shared our ideas here on Family Locket: Are You Related to the Pilgrims? and Are You Related to a Signer of the Declaration of Independence? You can find out if you’re related to many different groups from broad (Famous Americans) to narrow (Salem Witch Trials).
Tip # 2 Make it Fun
With the families having read the book and tried out Relative Finder prior to the holiday, Lynnette created two activities for the Thanksgiving Gathering.
“Don’t Eat Pilgrims!” Ancestor Bingo
Lynnette wanted the children to hear and see the names of their Pilgrim ancestors so she created bingo cards, then a fun variation on the usual game.
Lynnette explained, “It’s like the game Don’t Eat Pete. We place small treats on each square of a board like the Pilgrim Ancestor Bingo card. The child who chooses the treat leaves the room for a few minutes. The next oldest child chooses a specific square. When the first child returns he/she starts picking treats off one at a time.”
“When they choose the treat on the square the second child chose everyone yells “Don’t Eat Pilgrims!” and they all grab for whatever treats may be left on the board. Then the second child chooses a treat and leaves the room while we set up a new board and choose a square to yell about. It’s total pandemonium but the kids love it and we’re very generous with treats so everyone gets plenty.”
Lynnette generously shared her Pilgrim Bingo board:
Who am I? Sharing time
Lynnette explained: “We have 7 direct Mayflower ancestors and several indirect so I made 11 slips of paper with descriptions of some of the ancestors. Volunteers chose an ancestor. Each person read the description about the ancestor on their slip and we talked about how they were connected to each other. I will improve on this for the future (the descriptions were too wordy and we lost the little ones pretty quickly) but most family members were interested and I think everyone learned a little about our Mayflower Ancestors.”
Tip #3 Evaluate and Plan for the Future
One step that we may not think to do is evaluate the activity afterwards – what worked and what didn’t. Sometimes our best ideas don’t quite go over as we had envisioned, so instead of giving up, take the time to record some thoughts about how to make an activity more effective the next time.
Lynnette shared, “I wanted to make the outline of the dimensions of the Mayflower out on the lawn using yarn and 12 inch sticks but we didn’t get around to that. Also, since the families were driving I wanted to put together some car activities that would help the children understand Pilgrim life and Mayflower experiences… I can do these in the future!”
Thanks, Lynnette, for these great ideas.
This holiday season, take some time to think how you could share some family history with your loved ones!