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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Kickstarter Campaign to Assist in Family History Activities

Troy Hallewell, an author, recently contacted me about his illustrated children's book in the works called, "The People Who Made Me."  He wrote a cute poem that has a sweet message relating to family history with a catchy rhythmic beat that is fun to read aloud. In order to move forward with hiring an artist, he needs to pre-sell copies and he's using Kickstarter to help fund the project.  Take a look here for more information.  

Kickstarter can be a great way to help raise funds online for creative projects in order to promote family history.  Write a book about your own family history and get family members to donate. From the Kickstarter website:
"Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you!" is another helpful site to assist in raising money online.  You can personalize it to fit your needs and easily share your campaign online through social media.  Engage your cousins and other family members to help pay for your family reunion or family history chart if funds are short.

I hope Troy is able to raise the money.  It looks like a great book.  Go check it out. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Top 8 Websites For Family Reunions

Family reunions are a great time to explore your family's heritage together. Whether your family reunion is large or small, the key to a successful event is in the planning. Once you have selected the date and location, the beauty is in the details.  How do you inform family members about the family reunion?  What about meals, sleeping arrangements, and transportation?  What activities will bring the family members together for a meaningful event?

Take a look at our favorite 8 websites to help you plan your upcoming family reunion:
Wonderful website with all sorts of ideas from the people at RootsMagic. Also check
out their family reunion planner software at
Laura Phelps has written a beautiful website to accompany her book. Ideas
for activities, food, locations and much more.
Popular magazine website gives resources for exciting places to hold your
reunion. Lots of amazing ideas.
Extensive planning website that includes e-books and e-courses with lots of
ideas. She gets the heritage piece.
Reunion theme ideas with lots of great quotes on family.
By Kimberly Powell, also a great starting place for learning about your
family’s genealogy.
The world's largest family social network. Share your favorite photos, create a profile with your family reunion announcement and add a homepage with up-to-date information about your event. Members keep the dialog going by leaving comments, questions, photos, ideas and encouragement on each others' posts!
Search Pinterest for great ideas for reunion planning.

As you gather ideas for your family reunion, consider the interactions between family members to be one of the most important purposes of gathering together. Have you ever been to a family gathering where the kids go off to play together, the teens all sit around and look at their screens and the adults talk in the other room? Or have you ever been to a large family reunion where people didn’t know each other well and they were too shy to get to know their distant cousins?

Our newest book, "My Ancestor Family Reunion Edition" will show you how to change all that. Included are many ideas that will have Grandma playing games with her grandchild, aunts and uncles interacting with distant cousins and Grandpa sharing stories with the whole family. A real family reunion has cross-generational activities where everyone gets a chance to interact with their relatives, old and young. Order now and let the planning begin!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5 Fun Tips for Using Technology With Family Reunions

My son Matthew and I are in sunny California this weekend at SCGS Jamboree. Not only are we seeing both new and old genealogy friends at our vendor booth and hearing some great lectures (I brought Matthew down early so we could catch some of DNA day), but we are also speaking on some fun topics including online activities and using technology for binding families.

I'll be speaking on "Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech for Binding Families" and "Family Links:Easy Interactive Online Activities to Share Your Family History".  And Matthew will be giving his "Get to Know Your Geezers" lecture.  

Two of our lectures are being streamed live.  You can catch them on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon at 

With family reunion season in full swing, here are 5 fun tips for using technology with your upcoming family reunions. Incorporating technology and devices is an enticing way to get the younger generations involved in planning and participating in your family reunions.  What a great way to Zap the Grandma Gap--instead of rejecting technology, embrace it!
  1. Create a Social Networking Team. In order to have a successful family reunion, you have to tell them about all of the fun you are going to have and then get your family there. Put together a social networking team with some of the older and younger generations of the family to get the word out about your family and your family’s history. A member of the family can set up a family Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel. They can also put together a Twitter account, a blog or a Google+ page. Do a survey of which social networking tools your family members use the most and then focus your efforts accordingly. If family members are spread throughout the different social networking platforms, and you have enough time, consider starting with a blog and then letting your social media team broadcast those blog posts through other social media.
  2.  Create a Custom Family Reunion Hashtag.  Designate a hashtag for your family reunion before you get started with these social media ideas. Something like #FisherGathering15 or #ColsonReunion2015 will help you follow what your family is doing and help you determine the winners of any social media contests you have. Hashtags are labels that help people follow what is going on and search for what your family members have said about the reunion.
  3. Create a "Get to Know You” YouTube Channel. Challenge each family to send in a short 3-5 minute video about themselves, their pets, their favorite food, song, activities, etc. If you are comfortable with it, and careful with private information in the videos, you can keep the video
    “public”. Otherwise, “unlisted” videos could be used but you will need to share the links with
    family members in order for them to view the videos. The beauty of this activity is that you
    will get to know those distant family members who you don’t know well. You can have something to talk about with them right when you walk into the family gathering.
  4. Create a Facebook Storytelling Contest. Once you have put together a Facebook page for your family reunion (private by invitation or public) invite your family members to join you in getting excited about the reunion. Post a few intriguing family stories and then invite the members of your family to do the same. Award prizes for the post with the most comments, the most likes, and the best attachment.
  5. Create a Picture Captioning Contest. This challenge works on several different social media platforms. Post a family history photo (or several) and see who comes up with the funniest caption.Votes can be taken online or at the family reunion.
Using these fun ideas for technology at your family reunion will invigorate, modernize, and bring a whole new level of interest and engagement to your family reunion activities.

Find more meaningful family reunion ideas on over 100 pages in my new book, "My Ancestor Family Reunion Edition" .  We offer 8 different versions to customize to your family's heritage. This e-book is an instant download with over 100 pages of fun and ideas for your family reunion.  Click here for more info or to order now and Happy Summer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A New Book for Meaningful Family Reunions
Summer is upon us which means it's the most popular time for family reunions and gatherings!
We have heard many of you express interest in connecting with your families at family reunions.
Zap the Grandma Gap is happy to announce the new release of  "My Ancestor: Family Reunion" e-book version.  This multi-page resource includes 3 sections:
  • A Children's Activity Workbook with rights to copy and use for the duration of the family reunion (Choose one workbook from Pioneer, British, German, Danish, Jewish, Civil War, Swedish, or Mormon) including over 50 pages of culturally specific activities
  • 20 pages of FUN family heritage family reunion ideas
  • 35 page children's workbook with interactive pages that are perfect for completing at the family reunion
Though every family member is a unique individual, these carefully selected family heritage family reunion activities will help the attendees find purpose, unity, and strength in their lives as they discover their common roots. Create new family history as family members engage in a shared family heritage using social media, blogs, and other online resources. 

Print the activity workbook pages and distribute as desired during your family reunion to explore your family history with fun and games! Youth will gain ownership of their family history and take the lead in learning about their ancestors and the culture that surrounded them.  As they accomplish these activities together with the help of their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings at the family reunion, they will strengthen modern family bonds while strengthening their link to the past.

Click here to order now for use at your upcoming family reunion and we'll get it send right out to you.  This an e-book and will be sent electronically as a PDF, so it's perfect for last minute planning! 

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.