Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Family History for Star Wars Fans

I've always said that the best way to connect your family with their family history is to take their interests, and apply them to your family history.  So if your daughter is interested in fashion, she might be interested in the beautiful pictures of your great-grandmother and her fantastic hats (see also Maureen Taylor's resources on the fashions of our ancestors.)  Or if your child is interested in trains or animals, find out how those intersect with your family history.  Well Virginia Kysh took my suggestion to heart and came up with an idea for her Star Wars fans. 
If you have any StarWars fans, have we got some fun fan items for you! Take a look over at The Chart Chick to see the coolest chart we just completed based on the Death Star from Star Wars.  We like to have a little fun with our charts and who says family history charts have to be traditional or formal?

Since we had Star Wars on our minds,  this fun Star Wars Family Tree caught my eye on my Pedigree Charts Pinterest board. Wouldn't that make a fun family movie marathon? Pop lots of popcorn and settle in to connect the relations between the Empire and the Alliance.

"Connect with your family by connecting them to their family history."  Zap the Grandma Gap is all about getting your family involved and engaged in family history by incorporating the child's interests. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to take a piece of pop culture to show how it's done.  Family history even happens in Star Wars!

Come follow me on Pinterest for tons more great ideas on family history and genealogy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The most inspiring keynote I've ever heard

Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow.
Congratulations to Bret Peterson and Ginny Ackerson and their team at the UGA Spring Conference.  I have never seen a conference planning committee nail a keynote speaker like these people did. Paul McCarty was honestly the best keynote speaker I've ever heard. I couldn't take notes fast enough. 

Paul is a Psychology professor at BYU.  He volunteers at the Family History Center at the Utah State Prison.  I don't know if they have Family History Centers at other prisons but from what he talked about it sounds like they should.  (I'll have to look into that.)  Paul talked about the amazing rehabilitation that he sees in his work at the prison.  I had heard about this program but the stories he told were fantastic.

One of the examples he gave was a young prisoner who had been incarcerated for some serious gang activities.  Paul said he was angry all the time.  When he started doing family history research, he found out that he was descended from a Spanish prince and from some of the conquistadors.  You can imagine what that did to his self image and he reported feeling the presence of his ancestors.  Paul said he did a 180% turn in just a few weeks and was quickly involved in leadership and mentoring positions in the center. 

Like I've talked about many times here, apparently family history is helping to heal the prisoners' relationships with their mothers, their children and other members of the current families too.  No surprise there. 

Another prisoner he talked about was in prison for life without parole.  He was angry all the time and quite violent with the other prisoners.  He actually found out that his great great grandfather had been a security guard for a frontier bank and his great grand uncle had arrested Black Bart.  He was so enthralled that he actually ended up writing to some of the people back home and with permission started researching the family history of some of his victims.  He sent the information that he had found to these victims families and there was alot of healing and forgiveness that came from it. 

He said that indexing and researching family history gave the prisoners a chance to "escape from prison" and do something good in the world.   They are able to feel good for a bit and leave that guilt at the door.  It has also become a key part of the rehabilitation when these prisoners are released from prison as well.  After they are out of prison, they are encouraged to volunteer once a week at the FHC near them and they do much better when they do.  Paul said that Family History is the "key to changing an attitude of failure to a person of worth." 

That's what it is all about isn't it?  Wow wow wow wow wow. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Danish Ancestor Activity Book

I am so excited to announce our brand new My Danish Ancestor Activity Book.  This 52-page activity book encourages youth to ask questions and delve into the Danish history of their family in a fun way. The “My Ancestors” hands-on workbooks create bonds between generations with hours of activities, puzzles, games, recipes, stories and crafts that can involve the entire family. Timelines, paper dolls, coloring pages, maps, music, dot-to-dots and crossword puzzles combine to give youth ownership of their own genealogy and the send them on a quest to bring their family history to life.

As I've said before, studies have shown that greater knowledge about family history strengthens and empowers youth by creating self-esteem, resilience and a greater sense of control over their lives. Learning about the family's past also strengthens the relationships between living family members by creating a shared experience and core identity that no one else in the world can duplicate.  This new children’s workbook is designed to help kids gain the benefits of family history and start asking their family members about their shared past. 

I have a particularly inspiring Danish ancestor and I'm excited to share this book with my children and someday with my grandchildren.  But beyond that, this was our most requested book.  These are activities, games, and questions that will help you discover the exciting lives of your Danish Ancestors. You can: 

  • Make some Danish rye bread and learn about Danish sandwiches 
  • Sing a Danish Folk Song 
  • Find some Danish family words  
  • Complete a dot-to-dot of a famous Danish castle 
  • Document what you know about your favorite Danish ancestor 
  • Learn about Danish royalty and Danish crests 
  • Solve puzzles about famous Danish people 
  • Make a special Julehjerte to honor your Danish ancestor 
  • Simple projects, recipes, and worksheets make it easy for your busy family to celebrate their Danish heritage. 
No matter what your age, you can help your family accomplish these activities together. As you learn, you can record your family history here to create a new family keepsake and pass your great Danish heritage down to future generations.

You can purchase this book now, through our website.  We'll also have plenty of copies on hand  at Rootstech.  Either way, you cannot go wrong when you use these books to introduce your children and grandchildren to your Danish heritage.

Up the Game for Your Next Family Reunion

We do family reunions like no one else.  You want the "WOW" factor at the next one you're in charge of?  Contact us, we've got you covered.  With all manner of custom printed charts, we are your go-to resource for working charts (great for gathering information and editing incorrect data) or center piece custom designed display charts.  We have also gathered plenty of tried and tested family reunion ideas for you over the years that you can take a look at here and here.  And now, to top all of that, we at Family ChartMasters have created a brand new game for you to play with family members anytime you want to create moments for making family connections!

We are very pleased to introduce you to our Family ChartMasters Pedigree Challenge Card Game.  A full deck of professionally crafted cards that will have conversations buzzing and family chart hunting happening within seconds.  Here are a few examples of some of the narrative builders included in this fun deck of cards:

  • Find someone who knows your uncle and have them tell you a story about him.
  • Find a relative whose name starts with the same letter as yours. Where and when were they born?
  • Do you have an aunt? When and where was she born?
  • Find two people who are first cousins.
  • Find a relative who was born while one of their great-grandparents was still alive.
  • What is the most popular month to be born in your family?
  • Do you have any relatives born on their parents' anniversary?
As you can see, these cards will work in large groups (great for mingling at those large extended family reunions) or in smaller gatherings (use with your custom made Family ChartMasters family chart and utilize the beautifully displayed information to create stronger bonds).  These cards can come out any time of year.  For grand holidays (can you imagine the stories that will fly over the carved turkey?) or for quick visits from grandchildren, nieces, or nephews (what a fun way to pass time while arming young ones with family history power).  The cards have so many applications and uses, you'll be glad you have them on hand.

You can purchase this deck of cards now, through our website, for just $10.  It's a real bargain for all of the bonding and sharing that will result from it.  Or, if you will be at Rootstech next week, stop by Booth 1240 to say "hello" and pick up a fresh deck for you or another family reunion planning friend you may know.  That will also give you a great chance to check out some of the games we'll be playing at our booth (1240), as well as another family history centered board game geared more towards smaller gatherings.  You can take a look at the cards yourself and give them a try with any of our displayed charts, to see how fun and addictive the chart treasure hunting can become.  Trust us on this one, we know family reunions and you will want this game at your next one!

Monday, February 2, 2015

He Knew Where He Came From

James Herschel Taylor and his parents.
Photo provided by and used with express permission of PBS Communications.
And that is just one of the many reasons genealogists across the board absolutely adore James Herschel Taylor.  James was recently featured on the PBS show Genealogy Roadshow (The St. Louis Central Library episode which aired Monday, January 19th, 2015) and he captured everyone's attention and hearts.  Josh Taylor and the producers reached out to us, at Family ChartMasters, to create a chart for this young man and you can read about that here.  What I'd like to focus on in this post, however, is more about how James knew where he was descended from before the research and DNA testing was done to show him a more complete view of his ancestry.

If you take a look at his story on the Genealogy Roadshow website (you can find his segment roughly between the 33:17 and 42:43 minute markers), James talks about where many African Americans have roots and ancestry.  He talks about how much he hopes his ancestry leads him to West Africa with Nigerian ties, and how much he wants to be from the Mali Empire (because they were an educated and highly organized empire... seriously,  this kid!).  He goes on to say some profound statements.  He says on the show segment about why he wants to know where he comes from and it's along the lines of it being because it would "Bring me honor and bring my family honor."  He then goes on to say how he wants to know where his ancestors and history are because "It would give me better self-esteem and self-standing."  Honestly, if you have not watched the show, go watch it.  He's so amazing!  He said, in just a sentence, what I have been saying and teaching for years to people much older and with much more life experience than him.  And he gets it!  How incredible.

One thing that really jumped out to me was that his DNA findings revealed his family ancestry derives from exactly where he hoped it would.  All I could think of was that he wanted to be from the Mali Empire in West Africa *because* that is where he is actually from.  He felt that connection in himself and he was drawn to that region and had a need to learn and discover what he could about that Empire because it was his.  We talk about feeling pulled or "just knowing" something within us about our ancestry and James is the perfect example of it.  He even said, after Josh Taylor presented the findings to him, "My brain just wants to jump out of my head and say 'That's what I told you! I knew where you were from!'"  And that's the whole point.  He knew because that ancestry was in him, pulling him to discover more about his roots and his foundation.  James is the perfect example of heeding that call and pull we all feel when we think of our histories.

Working on a chart for him and his family, and then being able to see it presented to him on the show is just the icing on the cake to this story.  The real joy is that James had a desire to find his ancestry and to know exactly where he came from.  He that pull felt within him and then the research proved he was right.  And if you look at that sweet boy's face on the video, there is no doubt that his self-esteem and self-standing just shot through the roof when he discovered his feelings were right all along.  Talk about a successful perspective story right there!  What a great kid and what a great story!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who Doesn't Love Free Food?

In case you missed it, we are having a giveaway over on The Chart Chick for a free lunch for two.  It's easy to enter for a chance to win.  All you have to do is leave us a sentence or two in the comments of this blog post and tell us something inspiring you've discovered in your ancestry.  That's it!  The winner will get lunch for two from Jdawgs.  The contest is open to everyone, including other bloggers.  It's just our way of saying "Thanks" for being such loyal readers and great genealogists.  Head on over right now to leave us a comment!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Come and Visit The Chart Chick

With the holiday rush and the new year ringing in, you may think I am on vacation over here.  Some days I wish that were the case.  In fact, not so much at the moment.  I'm busy getting things ready for Rootstech, along with a couple of other conferences.  I've been pretty active and vocal on my other blog though, so come on over to The Chart Chick and catch up with me.  I've got a customer satisfaction survey that Family ChartMasters will donate $1 to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for every completed response we receive, a newly updated and completely free Salt Lake City Travel Guide available for download, and an upcoming introduction to my Rootstech Outside the Box partnership sessions with Maureen Taylor and Lisa Louise Cooke.  Things are jumping over on my other blog, so stop by and say "hello!"