Discover the simple ways you can make your family history come alive for your grandkids
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
"Quickly, you two; sit down before the train gets going. Oh, wait.. I can hear the horn.. now, we'll be off. At least it's a smooth ride, not like the rattle and chug of the old steam engines."
"What! You had steam trains when you were a kid? No way!" ... Sigh... sometimes I feel very old! :)
I looked at my grandkids and smiled.
"Well.. yes, for a while before they changed over to rail-motors. That was before the electric ones we're enjoying today. "
The kids were wild with excitement. "I would so love to have been a kid then. It would have been so cool to go on the steam engine."
"Actually, it was pretty hot- no air-conditioning. I remember how your great-grandpa would dust off the seats before we sat down in the carriage so that we didn't get dirty. The seats were often covered in dust and soot from the engine."
"Did you take any photos? Can I see them when we get home?"
I laughed. "Well, we did have cameras but nothing like your iPhone ones. Yes, I do have some photos, though, at home. Remind me to show them to you."
'The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.'
One of the best parts of being a grandparent is sharing your family history and heritage with your grandkids. Grandkids like hearing stories about your life before they came along, especially if their parents are included.
Here are some fun ways for grandparents to share history with grandchildren.
1. Write a Book
There are many stories you can share in a book. The best way to prevent readers becoming overwhelmed is to focus on sharing a specific story with each book. It might be a book about your life up until today, or it might be a book about the family tree; maybe you could write about the comparison in your and your grandkids' schooling styles or technologies. It's up to you, and you don't have to do just one. You could write separate books such as "The Day You Were Born", "How Grandpa and I Got Married", and more.
Another fun way to write your family's history, your legacy, is to create a book of family recipes with information and anecdotes of special events, fun times together and even funny family quotes- wonderful memories of shared family mealtimes.
How about writing a family history book as a family legacy journal. A family journal serves a special purpose. It provides a more personal opportunity to journal about your life, your grandchildren, the quality time you spend with them and your family, faith and life lessons you've learned, and the ways you seek to build a legacy of faith for your kids.
If you sign up to Robin Grunder's newsletter, you can access her "Legacy of Faith Journaling PromptsTwenty-five Days to Writing Your Story of Faith." with prompts for writing your own legacy journal.
2. Make a Video
If you are more comfortable recording a video of the story, try that. You can usually record a video using the software right on your computer, tablet, or cell phone. You can then send it to them via email or via a private Facebook group, or share through file-sharing software like Google Drive or Dropbox. Again, stick to one story at a time to keep them short and to the point.
I really enjoy using the Animoto online program for creating videos. So much is provided for you: movie sizes and styles, backgrounds, transitions, background music. You can upload and use either photos or movie clips and add titles and quotes. It's a lot of fun. You can create a short movie with a free account or pay a bit extra for more features. Check out the most popular Animoto styles for home movies.
3. Make a Family Photo Album
A really great way to connect your grandchildren to their history is to create a family photo album that is accessible online. Arrange it by name, event, and by year. In this way, you may have duplicates, but it will be easier for them to find the photos they are interested in at that time.
MixBook do this really easily and well. Beautiful photo books become treasured keepsakes that are perfect to give as gifts or purely to grace your own coffee table or bookcase. It's pretty much straightforward but if you need more detailed instructions, check out this page.
4. Create a Family Calendar
A different idea to connect with family history is to create a family calendar with everyone's birth dates, death dates, wedding dates, and other important dates recorded for the past and the future. You might like to create your own calendar today with Google Calendar and Gmail.
Again, the other great option that I enjoy using is MixBook. It really is a great place to start when you're thinking about a family calendar. Their designs are amazing and the finished result is everything you'd want in a quality product. And.. it's really easy to use.
Start by choosing your calendar design (and there are heaps), then upload your photos (as feature images or to add to individual calendar dates) and then add details about important family days and dates to remember. Stickers can also be added as special highlights or decorative details.
Creating this type of personalised calendar is not only a wonderful tool, it’s a great way to connect as a family. You’ll all literally be “on the same page,” and you’ll come to rely on the family calendar.
If you decide to give copies as gifts, you’ll likely find that friends and family members will be delighted to discover and share those special family dates and memories– and you’ll realise that yet another meaningful family tradition has been created.
5. Create a Family Tree
It's interesting for kids and families to look at family trees and trace their origins. This can be harder depending on your situation if there are divorces, adoptions, and so forth, but it is a great way to show your grandchild where they fit in with the family history by looking at a family tree image. There is a lot of software now to help such as FamilyTreeBuilder or FamilyTreeMagazine.
And, there are free sites like FamilyTreeNow that will help you create a simple FamilyTree or sites that will create amazing depictions of your family ancestry like MyHeritage. Some of these sites will also encourage you to dig deeper into your family's past which is intriguing but generally involves a cost factor.
Just keep that in mind and decide beforehand whether you will stick with the free options or pay for more depth and information.
6. Create a family website
Although the thought of setting up a family website may initially sound really daunting, it's not as difficult as you might imagine. And... there are some really good reasons why this can be a wonderful way to remember, reflect and share your family history- family traditions, activities and memories.
Interested in using this tool to build and share your family's history? Take a few moments to read a bit more here about just how a website for your family can be a really meaningful tool.
But there are other ways to go about setting up a website for your family. An online/app family journal is a more simple option and it won't take much time at all to set up.
Don’t let the good times slip away: build memories that can be easily shared with an online/app family journal like Cozi to quickly capture and share stories and family photos. A Cozi calendar app can be shared with the whole family.
The included journal feature allows you to keep memories of vacations, holidays, perfect spelling tests, amazing soccer goals, and fabulous family trips. Take a few moments to check it out.
7. Plan Trips to Discover Your Heritage
This final suggestion is certainly a lot of fun but it may be more difficult financially to achieve. A fun way to talk about and discover history to share with grandchildren is to plan heritage-themed vacations and trips. For example, if your family comes from Ireland, why not travel where everyone came from? If your great-great-grandparents met in Paris during the war, go to Paris and walk on the same streets they did.
It certainly would be heaps of fun and an amazing way to share your family background and history. But it may take a lot of saving and planning. Still, it's certainly worth considering. And if the cost of travel is beyond you and your family, the internet provides amazing resources to access photos, maps, images and movie clips to share with your grandkids.
The more you can pass on family history to your grandchildren, the more connected your grandkids will feel to their heritage. Being connected to the past is a great way to ensure that the future is better than the past, and it can all happen through stories.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.