Five Ways to Combine Family History in School – Family History Month

Add excitement to school with genealogy

For many youth, school is exciting on the first day and the last. There is a long gap between these two exiting points in education. Why not make school, be it public, private, or home school, more interesting by adding genealogy into the mix. But not use the boring term “-ology” term, use Family History or better yet, the history of YOU!

Incorporating the following items during the school day, on ‘free days’ rather than turning on the movies, or suggest as bonus work or service projects if you’re using these ideas in public or private schools. For home educators, considering doing these suggestions after morning devotionals,  during downtime, or as a weekend activity when a working parent can also be involved.

That’s the beauty of family history as part of school… it can be a school-like activity that is done on a day of rest without being secular work. Family history is definitely something the Lord would love for all to participate in on the Sabbath or throughout the week.

Here are five ways I use genealogy in my school. Be sure to keep reading for a bonus tip of how we can use our school projects to accomplish awards and recognition in organizations in which we participate!

1. Indexing

Indexing is a great way to teach computer skills, reading handwriting, and becoming familiar with genealogy record sets. I will watch over the shoulders of my younger children, but Quatro has regularly spent her Sundays, and some school days, indexing. She loves discovering new to her places and then having to use Google Maps to find out where these places are (and how they’re really spelled). Uno says she likes the obituaries and how different they are. Sometimes the obits will have interesting occupations or fascinating stories. She especially likes when an obit is more about the people the deceased person knew rather than their family!

2. Enter Writing Competitions

Tres is motivated by money. You tell him he’ll earn money for something and he’s on the job. In 2016, I told about the Texas State Genealogical Society writing competition where he could earn a cash reward. He jumped in full force to work on his project and he won first prize! Sometimes I have to motivate him to do indexing by offering a reward for 1,000 names (or some other challenging goal).

3. Digital Memory keeping

Today’s personal history is tomorrow’s family history. Journals and scrapbooks are great ways to do family history and is often overlooked as the focus regularly turns to deceased ancestors. Video scrapbooks / journals are also part of this idea bank.

As early as 8, I will teach my children to create their own scrapbooks. This builds their graphic art skills and incorporates writing. When they’re older, I allow them to have complete creative control over their projects. Some years, Uno has amazing artistic creations with very little journaling. Other years, Dos will have lengthy comical stories. And one child regularly scrapbooks with only one background color. I suppose that makes things easier?

My children are also exploring making videos that piece together the highlights of the year but then adds voice over work as a way to capture how their voice sounded at different ages. It’s really quite fun.

4. Digitize Family Files

Another skill important skill is digitizing family files. Teach children how to use scanners, smart phone apps to scan letters, dSLR cameras to photograph memorabilia, or offer a “Scan Fest” service to older persons in your neighborhood or community. Having helped Hurricane Harvey survivors gut their homes, the heritage and sentimental items are the hardest to part with.

5. Basic Research Skills

When my children turn 12, I begin teaching them the basics of genealogical research. Our church pressures youth to turn up 20-40 new family names each year. I don’t like this emphasis because the names are rarely fully researched. I combat this by teaching my teenagers what evidence is, how to evaluate the resources, and how then how to attach the evidence to our family tree in FamilySearch.

As they develop their skills, I’ll turn a branch over to them. Caleb has a video about how youth can do family history, someone just has to teach them. He found 5 new family members for the family tree without my assistance! He’s a growing genealogist, which is why he loves being on the YouTube Channel. He’s at this point because of his willingness to learn and my patience in teaching him correctly.


These are 5 ways to include genealogy into your schooling programs. You don’t need fancy workbooks or curriculum. You just need to get started. What are ways you use family history in school? Share your ideas in the comments section below.


Doing family history can support the organizations your child is a part of!

  1. Brownies in Girl Scouts can earn the My Family badge.
  2. Boy Scouts can earn the Genealogy Merit Badge.
  3. LDS Young Women’s Personal Progress
    • Individual Worth #6
    • Individual Worth Value Projects
      • Compile a book family testimonies, and record in your journal how your family’s heritage has blessed your life.
      • Record family stories from your genealogy and set a goal to serve your ancestors by performing vicarious baptisms.
      • Take lessons at a Family History Center and learn how to research your ancestors and perform baptisms for them in the Temple.
      • Type up old family journals and study the importance of learning from our ancestors.
      • (These ideas, and more, came from The Personal Progress Helper)
    • There are additional Value Projects that are family history related! Does these and you’re well on your way to finishing the program using a heavy does of genealogy!
  4. 4-H Genealogy Projects can be submitted to state fairs for prizes and potential scholarships!

Are there other organizations I can add to this list that uses genealogy or heritage discovery as part of earning youth awards and recognition? Let me know those in the comment section below!


Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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