Games, books, films and TV shows can help your mission
This is the age group who are the easiest to engage. Sharing activities with adults has not yet become uncool, and the children are not overwhelmed with homework. There are some very useful family history books that can be used with primaryschool children. They can be a great starting point, but you can’t just pop one of these in a Christmas stocking and think that you have done enough. The child will want an adult to work through the book with them and to provide additional material.
At this stage, don’t be afraid to cherry-pick the best bits of your family history – most children won’t want long lists of “begats and begats” or source citations. Today’s children expect things to be interactive, immediate, bite-sized, tactile and visual, so activities need to take account of this. Most will be intrigued by family stories, particularly if they are exciting, quirky or gory. The Horrible Histories franchise plays on this, and can be a way to introduce a particular era that can be linked to ancestors’ experiences at that time. As well as Terry Deary’s bestselling
original books, there is a monthly magazine and a very popular BBC TV series. Episodes are available on DVD and streaming services, and there is a highly interactive website featuring clips, episodes, games and quizzes: bbc.co.uk/cbbc/ shows/horrible-histories.
Indeed history-themed games (both videogames and boardgames), toys, non-fiction books, novels and films will all encourage an interest in the past, and enable you to share information about family members who lived at the time depicted. You can also make your own games to reflect your ancestry. Use family photographs to create jigsaws or versions of popular games such as snap, Happy Families, Top Trumps and Guess Who?. The website toolsforeducators.com has useful templates for some of these. Dominoes can also be adapted so that, instead of matching identical pictures, you match husbands and wives, or parents and children. Bingo can be made more complex too by, for example, calling out years of birth, or spouses’ names, rather than the names of the people on the cards.