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Family History in the Classroom

Lesson Plans & Inspiration


How many students do you know who will admit to a love of history? Unfortunately, not many. Let's face it - most children live for the moment and just don't see the importance of studying about people and events that predate their own existence. It's not that they hate history, they just don't see its connection and significance to their daily life.

This is where family history comes in. So much more than the traditional family tree, genealogy and family history can make learning fun and interesting by providing students of all ages with the personal connection which is missing from so many classroom assignments. Seen through a grandparent's eyes, events like World War II and the invention of the automobile take on the immediacy of real life, teaching students that history is not a series of isolated events from the pages of a textbook, but rather a collection of individual choices and memories that still influences their lives today.

The hands-on learning that a family history project brings to the classroom can help motivate students to learn, as well as encourage retention of the covered material. Family history can be used to teach not only history, but also language arts, writing, math, geography, and even science. Family history projects can also be used to teach and encourage communication, information-gathering, research, computer, analysis, and evaluation skills. It is also an excellent method for encouraging the acceptance of individual differences.

You don't have to be a professional genealogist to incorporate family history into your classroom curriculum, though you should be sure to learn how to spell the word 'genealogy' correctly! Familiarize yourself with some of the basic tenants of family history research, browse through the accompanying family tree lesson plan links for creative applications of family history in the classroom, be ready with alternative projects to meet the needs of all of your students, and you will be well on your way to having one of the most fun and enthusiastic classrooms in your school.

Next page > Branch Out from the Traditional Family Tree Assignment

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