Is genealogy research fun for students?

 In Curriculum, Education

Yes, it’s a fun and engaging activity for young people.

I’m a big fan of genealogy research. Beyond the deeply felt benefits of connecting with your roots, affirming your identity, and giving names to once forgotten ancestors…yada, yada, yada…it’s just fun. That’s right, I think it’s a lot of fun to comb through old documents to piece together the stories of individuals and families. The process is endlessly fascinating, whether I’m researching my own ancestors or the family of someone I barely know. It’s like an invaluable treasure hunt.

In my last LinkedIn post, I explained what I learned from Ancestors unKnown students who want history lessons to be more fun. They tell us to spice up the past with games, field trips and other engaging activities. So, this has me thinking: can genealogy research be the fun part…even for young people?

I think so! Well, of course it must be approached with academic and personal relevance. But if we get to the basics of genealogy research, I think it’s got roots (pun intended) in fun, giving us plenty of potential for engaging classroom activities.

If you’re a family historian who’s found at least one ancestor in the archives, you’re probably saying, “Yes! Genealogy research is loads of fun! Say no more! Get these kids in the archives!”

For the rest of you, particularly if you’re an educator who knows firsthand the discerning judgment of a child’s fun meter, you might need more convincing.

Allow me to try.

The puzzle

Puzzles are generally beneficial for a child’s learning and development. By presenting a problem to be solved, children can see a puzzle as an engaging challenge.

Genealogy research starts with the basic pieces of a puzzle. You have the big picture – or the final result, which is, well, you. Or rather, where you are, what you look like, the family, friends and community around you. These things have fallen into place because of the smaller pieces of your history. If you’re still following the metaphor, those pieces of your history are the puzzle pieces.

You find some pieces fit together and others don’t. You look for missing pieces. You fill in a bigger picture. And you show off your family tree like it’s a masterpiece. What fun!

Read my other reasons why genealogy research is fun for students, including the mysteries and lies, over on LinkedIn: Genealogy research for students. 


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