Church is over. Sunday dinner has been served. The kids are restless. Now what? One of the best ways to keep the Sabbath Day holy—and to keep the kids from driving each other crazy—is to focus on family history. It may not be something you do every week and it may last only an hour or so, but the Spirit of Elijah that comes with turning our heart to our ancestors will bless your home in a very real way.
Here are some ideas for how to make family history part of your Sunday.
For the Younger Crowd (3–11)
Use simple visual games and activities to engage your little ones.
Family Tree Craft Time
Get out the glue, scissors, and construction paper. Help younger children cut out and create family trees, leaving spaces for photos and names. The final product can be posted on the refrigerator as a reminder of your family heritage or sent to Grandma, or you could do both if you snap a photo and upload it to Family Tree.
Ancestor Photo Memory Game
A simple memory game can help your children connect with their ancestors as they try to match photos. There are commercial companies that can make you a matching game set (check Google), or you can make your own game set using a layout or word processing program and photos you find in Family Tree or photos you have on hand.
Ancestor Guess Who
Got an old Guess Who game lying around? You can add a family history twist by replacing the stock character faces in the game with faces from your family tree. Photos can be downloaded and printed from the Memories section of Family Tree, or you can use photos you have on hand.
For Youth (12–17)
Involve your youth in doing simple activities that take advantage of their expertise with technology.
Have a family indexing challenge. With a computer for each team, choose an indexing project with enough batches so that each team has a similar task. Set a time limit, and the team with the most names indexed wins. Even new indexers can be up and going in no time. Learn more at the FamilySearch indexing website.
It’s simple to generate word searches with your own word list using online tools. Google or another search engine can help you or your older children find such a tool, but here is one that works really well. The resulting puzzle can be joined with family photos (using a layout or word processing program) to create a memory-making activity sheet.
Older teens can lead a visit to a close relative such as a grandma or grandpa. Once there, they can use their smartphones to record audio of precious memories for generations to come. Download the Family Tree app (iOS or Android), navigate to the relative’s page, and add a recorded memory that will be preserved for generations to come.
For the Rest of Us (Insert Your Age Here!)
There are activities for people of all ages at FamilySearch.org, including photos and stories, indexing, and family tree building. Here are some tools and resources that tie in to Family Tree that can make any Sunday a family history Sunday.
TreeSeek.com can generate a wide variety of free charts (fan, photo, name cloud) to help you visualize and share your family tree. All of the charts are simple to create using the tree information found in your FamilySearch family tree. Learn more about TreeSeek, and give it a try.
RootsMapper is a free website that shows you were your ancestors lived. It uses your FamilySearch Family Tree to plot your ancestors on an interactive map. View a video introduction, and learn more about RootsMapper.
Puzzilla.org helps you to view FamilySearch Family Tree in a unique way. It can also open new branches for growing your family tree. View a video introduction, and learn more about Puzzilla.
As you bring family history into your home in small and fun ways, you’ll not only bring the Spirit of Elijah into your home, but you will also bring the promised protection of the blessings that come with it. Try it next Sunday, and start a new family tradition!