Teaching Youth to Research with “Adopt-A-Family” Checklists
Have you been wracking your brain trying to figure out a way to teach your teens how to do family history? Maybe you need a fun way to involve your youth consultants in teaching others how to do family history? After I had completed the Mission Possible activity with all of my ward youth, I wanted to help them take the next step and learn how to do some research. I came up with a series of checklists that I named “Adopt-A-Family.”
The whole premise of this series is to show teens, or anyone for that matter, some of the steps to take to really get to know the family they are researching. In the quest to “find a name” for the temple, they can get caught up in the reservation process and not take enough time to add sources, verify data, and uniquely identify individuals. Working through the checklists will help them discover information about their adopted family and see how fun it can be to really research.
The youth loved the checklists in Mission Possible, so I used the same format and put the Adopt-A-Family worksheets into envelopes with a label on the front. This series works best if done in order, so a number is associated with each envelope. I also give them a copy of a research log to write their questions and searches. Here are the titles of the sheets and a description of what each one entails.
Adopt-A-Family #1 Using Pandora’s Hope Chest to Find a Family to Research or Using Puzzilla.org to Find a Family to Research
I have a checklist showing how to use both FamilySearch apps. Each one has it’s own merits, so if you haven’t tried them yet, see what you think. I encourage the youth to look for an individual or a family that is not well sourced, needs temple ordinances, and lived when records are more available, between 1850 and 1905.
Adopt-A-Family #2 Learn About Your Family on Family Search
This checklist is all about exploring what is already on FamilySearch. Are their sources to view? Record hints to attach? Histories or photos to view? Are the dates and places standardized? Getting to know the family, putting them in their time and place will help in locating more records for them. Youth formulate a research question for the last step and write it on their research log.
Adopt-A-Family #3 Use the WIKI to Learn About Your Family’s Home
The FamilySearch Wiki is such a fabulous tool, it should be the first place we go when researching a new location or record type. The checklist encourages youth to look up a location for their family and learn how to research in that location. What records are available? Where are those records found? Youth try searching for their family on a link from the WIKI.
Adopt-A-Family #4 Find Your Family on Partner Websites
Now it’s time to do some research. This checklist helps youth get their partner accounts and try searching for their family on each website. They will record what they find on their research log.
Adopt-A-Family #5 Resolve Duplicates and Reserve Names for Temple Ordinances
Once the youth have gotten to know their family better, they can check for duplicate records that need to be merged. If they have researched the family enough, deciding if a matching record is a true duplicate or not will be much easier. This checklist has the youth check with a family history consultant to make sure the merge is completed correctly. Once all duplicates are resolved, the individual is uniquely identified and sourced, the temple work can be reserved.
What is the benefit to going through these steps? For one, the youth will feel a sense of accomplishment in really researching a family. They will feel a deeper connection and they just might learn to love family history.
I meet with my group of adult and youth family history consultants monthly. With a new group of youth, I use activities like Finding Franklin and Mission Possible to help them get started in family history. Then I move on to Adopt-A-Family, which can be used over and over, just with a different family each month.
Once a quarter, we have a family history Sunday with all of the ward youth, meeting after church at a member’s home. They bring laptops and guess what we do? Adopt-a -Family. The youth consultants help their friends go through the same steps they have done many times and everyone has fun eating snacks and doing family history for a couple of hours.
I’ve been impressed with how much they are learning and how they are getting a feel for what family history is all about. It’s so much more than just “finding a name.” Family History is getting to know “cousins.” Feeling sad that children died young. Feeling excited to find a missing child. Feeling satisfied in a job well done. That’s family history.
Best of luck in your family history endeavors!
Here are PDF versions of the envelope covers and checklists for you to download: