Stories bind our hearts to those who came before us, and studies show that children who know more about their family history have less anxiety, higher self esteem, and more resiliency in hard times. This is why I am passionate about helping children learn the stories of their ancestors and connect with family! It’s easiest to start with those we are closest to and work our way back, so each activity kit includes a fun printable set for kids to easily build their very own collection of family stories and memories.
I remember hearing everyone talk about my husband’s grandmother like she was a saint, and I don’t doubt she was! They speak of his mother the same way, and I can’t tell you how inadequate I felt to join a family that had a long history of saintly women because…well…I’m not very saintly! Try as I might, I am not one of those mothers that kids can praise for never saying an unkind word and never raising her voice or losing her temper. If I felt this kind of inadequacy and pressure as a grown woman, can you imagine how kids must feel when they hear nothing but praise of the ancestors that came before them?
One day I was reading this grandmother’s history, and I nearly died laughing when I read what she wrote about her childhood disposition. It was a hilarious story, and I felt such relief hearing that she was not as perfect as everyone claimed. I’m not saying we should spill everyone’s flaws and imperfections, but a funny tale or two about a time they got into trouble can bring a splash of reality and take a little pressure off children (and adults)! And you can bet I added that story to FamilySearch!
Without further ado, here are 5 questions I believe every person should ask their grandparents. In case you were wondering, this list was approved by my six year old daughter who helped validate interesting questions she would like to know about her grandparents. And no, you won’t be surprised by the first one, but read on!
1. When was a time you got in trouble as a kid?
2. What was your home like as a kid? Tell me about your house, town, and neighborhood.
Make sure you record addresses if they can remember them. These places are fun to revisit in person (the photo on the right is in in front of my dad’s childhood home that he told me stories about, which is why we are in the gutter). If you can’t visit in person, check them out on Google maps!
3. Did you have a nickname growing up? How did you get it?
After asking my great grandmother this question, we learned her nickname was Sha Sha because she couldn’t say her name, Frances. We never knew this about her and thought it was so cute that we called her Grandma Sha Sha from then on. This can also be helpful later on if you can’t find them in census records.
4. What did you like to do when you were a kid? Did you have a favorite toy? A favorite game?
If you have never heard of the game, make sure you ask how to play! I had heard of kick the can (a game from my great grandmother’s youth) but didn’t know the rules. My husband’s grandmother especially enjoyed, “Run Sheepy, Run” and had she not described how to play we may never have known. Consider having a family game night where you play one of those games!
5. Who were your grandparents and what were they like? What did you like to do with them?
I love hearing my mother talk of her grandparents and the great adventures they would take her on. I can see how their role in her life has deeply shaped her and how she has chosen to grandparent my children.
If you want an easy way to record the questions above, here is an easy video tutorial for recording stories (stories are so fun to listen to in a person’s own voice)!