The Shay No. 11 steam locomotive let out an ear-splitting whistle. My 7-year-old son, Jeremy, shrieked as our passenger car lurched forward. It was Labor Day weekend, and I was enjoying one last getaway with my two young sons before school started.
I learned a lesson myself that day: Teaching heritage to young children can be fun for the student and the teacher.
“Every picture had Sam in it, along with a relative,” Parks explains. “On each page I’d say, ‘Who loves Sam?’ Later, we upgraded to hardcover photo books with cheap plastic pages filled with pictures of him and all his cousins.” Parks says her son loved the albums and they kept his attention. “He would look at them forever.”
The final product may not be PBS-worthy. It could simply be a quick slide show with a voice-over. Don’t be too disappointed if the teen gets distracted before finishing the entire project. Get copies of the footage and archive it yourself.
Enable parental controls on the computer or hover nearby with a book to prevent inappropriate material from popping up. Encourage the teen to add the term genealogy or family history to every search to weed out many unsavory sites.
Every effort counts
- Climbing Your Family Tree by Ira Wolfman (Workman Publishing, ages 9 to 12)
- The Family Tree Detective by Ann Douglas (Owl Books, ages 7 to 12)
- The Kids’ Family Tree Book by Caroline Leavitt (Sterling, ages 9 to 12)
- Your Family Tree by Nuria Roca (Barron’s Educational Series, ages 4 to 8)
- American Girl series (Pleasant Co.): fictional stories of girls representing various historical eras and cultural experiences in US history; age ranges center on 9 to 12
- Dear America series (Scholastic Books): fictional girls’ diaries set in specific time periods, appealing to ages 9 to 12
- My America (Scholastic Books): fictional diaries for readers ages 7 to 10
- My Name is America series (Scholastic Books): fictional boys’ diaries set in specific time periods, appealing to ages 9 to 12
- For young children: KidsCan Press’ Memory Scrapbook series: paperback titles including My Grandma and Me, My Baby Sister and Me and My Family and Me
- For school-age children: Creativity for Kids’ It’s My Life Scrapbook Kit, complete with tools and embellishment
- For teens: Creative Memories Paper Album Kits, complete with matching embellishments
“I’m not an artist. I’m just a grandma,” Shepherd says. “And I want to leave my grandchildren with memories.”
More great genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine: