Go Fish! Engaging Younger Family Members Through Family Games

April 17, 2015  - by 

One of the new and inviting ways that families are successfully engaging younger family members is with family history games. Some parents prepare the games and host a family game night at home. These games encourage younger kids to learn about their ancestors and to share that experience with their family.

Getting to Know You Card Game—A set of cards are created, where one side of the card has a photo of a family ancestor, and the other side of the card tells a story about the person’s life. Attributes worth emulating or significant events in the person’s life can be identified. Players take turns asking, “Do you have a person who has (fill in the attribute)? If not, ‘Go Fish.’”

Matching Game—Two identical cards are created using photos of family members, former homes, or other items of significance to the family and posted on card stock squares. My grandchildren’s favorite card is a great-grandmother whose favorite meal was bushy-tail squirrel! On the opposite side of the cards, the items are numbered. Players pick two numbers and try to locate matches. The significance of the items selected is discussed as the game is played.

Bingo—A card is developed with 9, 16, or 25 squares on it. Questions are listed in each square. Family members who can answer the question can place a coin or a button on the square. For example, you might ask, name an ancestor who invented a new kind of trashing machine; tell the name of your maternal grandmother, where was your grandfather was born, tell me the profession of one of your great-grandparents, etc.

Jeopardy—Answers to ancestor questions are printed on card stock. Pick categories for each answer and assign extra points for more difficult questions. Players chose a category and how difficult an answer they desire to pick. Responses are made in the form of a question (since you already have the answer on the card).

One extended family studied family stories and photos before the cousins all got together. Games were played and each child was able to show just how much they knew about their ancestors. Family night or family get togethers are a perfect time to share these games with family members. Sometimes families need support to accomplish projects like these family history games. As a parent, you can prepare materials and help other family members research stories, photos, and documents about their ancestors. Learning to find ancestors and sharing that process with other family members is a natural extension of family game night. Game night is a fun and entertaining way to engage members of all ages in family history.


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  1. Doesn’t the Go Fish game have to have two identical cards for each ancestor card in the game? Otherwise how can you ask another if he has___, and for what do you Go fishing?

    1. In the actual game of Go Fish, there are four matching cards and the goal is to make a “book” There would have to be at least two matching cards for this game to wwork

      1. However, I think the title here was intended to be play on words using the reference to the well known card game of Go Fish.

        1. Well, you know you could have a “book” of a surname rather than identical individuals. So, “do you have any Smiths?” would work. I think it’s a grand idea.

  2. Love your ideas, we need more articles like this to help involve our families in our passion for family history.