3 Ways To Celebrate Heritage

3 Ways To Celebrate Heritage

3 Ways to Help Your Kids Celebrate Their Heritage


Everyone needs to know their heritage. Understanding where and who we came from helps us develop a stronger sense of identity, family pride and belonging. It also can help us feel cultural connections to places we've never been and times long past. This need to know is why genealogy is such a popular pastime today. It's great if you can get your kids interested in family history while they're young, to help them appreciate it as adults and to hopefully pass it down to their children so it's not lost. Here are three great ways to get kids involved in celebrating their heritage.


1. Help Them Make a Family Tree (Grades K-5)

This is the perfect starting step to encourage kids to learn about and celebrate their heritage. You probably know your own family history, at least dating back to your grandparents. These would be your children's great-grandparents, so make a great-grandparent family tree, which will help show your kids the most recent people who helped bring them into the world.

You can get a beautiful, printable family tree chart that documents past generations, including your child's great-grandparents, at Teach Me Genealogy. If you have photos of the people on the family tree, print copies and cut out their faces and paste them on the tree. It's always nice for kids to put a face with a name. As you fill out the tree chart together, tell stories about each person to make each relative seem more real to your child. This is something that can go on your child's wall to always remind him of the family members who came before him.


2. Have Culture Nights (Grades 6-9)

If your family has a strong cultural background in one particular country or if you have grandparents from several different areas of the world, you can help your child feel more connected to his cultural heritage by celebrating it with culture nights. These can be fun for the whole family. For example, you could have an Italian night for the grandmother from Italy or a Scottish night for the great-grandfather from Scotland.

For each culture night, prepare a traditional meal based on that culture and let your child help make it. Special tools are available at Macys.com to create cultural meals, such as a pasta maker or dough kneader. Set up pictures (if you have them) of the ancestors from that particular country. Get music from that country on iTunes and play it during dinner. Wear traditional clothing, if possible, from that culture. Talk with your child over dinner about how his ancestors from a specific country may have lived in their daily lives, why their traditions are important and how they are a part of your child's heritage. Such a celebration gives kids a sense of pride and being a part of a cherished culture.


3. Interview the Oldest Relatives in the Family (Grades 10-12)

It's always a good idea to collect stories from the oldest relatives in the family before they're gone. Help your child come up with a list of questions to ask, beginning with those focused on each relative's childhood. To get started, check out some excellent sample questions at PBS.org. The storytelling process gives your child deep insight into his relative's past that he can't get anywhere else. Have your child transcribe the interviews onto a word processing program and save them for future generations. They are invaluable historical resources, and the interviews will give your child a sense of his special place in a family that spans the centuries.

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