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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Independence Day decorating with Family History.

So I've found some new activities to do with my daughter.  She enjoys crafts and she was willing to put some 4th of July decorations together for the house with me.  We decided to give them a family history twist, and we both learned more about our past through the process.  I got to find out a little more about my father-in-law's navy service, and my daughter learned more about her ancestors who immigrated to the United States.

She was a good enough sport to help me with making a YouTube video about it. 

I'm obviously not a professional video producer but I have some other YouTube videos planned for this summer.  1) I think sometimes it is easier to show you things through a video, and I think it is easier to digest the information that way.  And 2) my daughter and I had a great time making it. 
You can follow them on my YouTube channel.

Let me know if any of these ideas work in your family.  I love hearing from you about what you have been doing. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Great ideas from SCGS--Secrets and Scoundrels

Sometimes the synergy when you get a bunch of genealogists together brings up great new ideas that you hadn't thought of.  That's why I love genealogy conferences so much.  A couple of weeks ago we got to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Conference where they put on a great event. 

I came across a few brilliant ideas for getting youth involved in family history from some equally brilliant people and they agreed that I could share them with you here. 

First, Elyse Doerflinger told me what got her involved in genealogy.  I love Elyse because she is so passionate about family history.  Her YouTube channel has some great ideas.   You can see her work at Elyse's Genealogy Blog

Elyse said that the best way to get youth involved in family history is to tell them that there is a family secret and that you won't tell them what it is.  Brilliant!  She says that is what happened to her and she had to research her family's past to find out what the secret was.  I know that works with lots of teenagers--tell them they can't do something and that's exactly what they will do. 

Then I had a great conversation with Kim Cotton.  She writes about family history at  She is an important part of the California genealogy scene and serves on the board of directors for the California Genealogical Society. 

We talked again about Kim's idea we discussed at RootsTech.  She has found great traction with her nephews by telling them about the scandals and scoundrels in the family history.  She thinks she may have connected back to Pancho Villa.  She said every time she sees them, they want to hear more about what she has been researching now.  It's all in how you tell the story, and if you know Kim, she can tell a good story. 

Elyse and Michael Melendez were in the back of my lecture on genealogy societies.  As we were answering questions at the end, someone asked about youth and societies.  When I answered the question and asserted that youth today need the connections that family history brings more than ever because they are so "disconnected" on social media all the time, I was happy when they both agreed.  I really think the upcoming generation is reaching for real live connections more than any generation ever has because social networking has so disconnected them from reality.

And finally, there was a lady in my demo about the books who made a great suggestion about antique quilts.  I told the group about my grandmother's quilt that I inherited and how that felt like a bullet proof vest to me.  A lady raised her hand (I'm sorry I didn't catch her name) and suggested that I create a fabric transfer of a picture of my grandmother, and another of the story of the quilt and baste them onto the back of the quilt.  Brilliant again!  That way future generations will understand the importance of the quilt and where it came from.  It is always good to keep an artifact and the story as connected as possible going into the next generations.  This is a great way to make sure the quilt is treasured in generations to come. 

So there you go.  Lots of great ideas.  If you have one, I'd love to hear it and be able to share it here with others who are trying to strengthen their families.  Email me at janet<at>

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Deseret Book and the Deseret News and 30% off

We've gotten alot of recognition here in Utah lately and that can save you some money today and tomorrow.

First, Danica Baird wrote an article for the Deseret News based on the book.  You can see the article here.  It also showed up in the paper:

It was great to have Danica's take on the ideas in the book and we appreciate the Deseret News helping to spread the word about the books. 

Then, last weekend, I took a look and the books have been added to the shelves at the Deseret Book stores.  Yes--I had to take a picture.     If you need more copies of the book, or haven't got one yet, or even if you have the book but haven't gotten the workbook, you need to take a look at  They have a 30% off one item sale going on until tomorrow.  Just enter the code ENDS623 at checkout.  Enjoy! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Treat Review

Joan Elder sent me a follow up to her tea parties idea.  I'm so excited to share it with you.  She sent some pictures of the activities she's done and this addition:

Joan writes, "We did story telling for Memorial Day with about 20 of us. The key seems to be keeping the children focused so the adults will be focused. So I did 5 min stories. I found an item that would 'remind me' about that story. I told the children that whoever was sitting quietly, and listening well, would get to pick the next item in my bag. I had done this two years ago with three of these chidren, and the other ones followed their lead. The big eyes looking back at me told me that they were captivated (aged 3-9). The parents sat further away on the sofas, while the children all made a half circle around me on the floor. I was animated and dramatic. It was so fun!  I told the adults that it was going to be about 30 minutes of story telling, but after the adults started joining in, and adding to the story, it went well over an hour. I quit before the enthusiasm wained. We had an audio recorder going to help me get the 'rest of the story' from the adults, so I can add that to the written story.

Afterwards, I talked to one of the dad's, and told him I planned on writing these all up along with pictures. He got really excited, and gave me his email. But I am going to have them printed, and put in page protectors, and in a nice three ring binder, with a picture of the kids and I on the front. I'll name it something like: Aunt Joan's Family Stories (or Bedtime Stories, but some of them were quite frightening). Then give one to each family to re-read with their children.

We all live some distance from each other. So I choose people living and dead, so they could get to know something about all of us.

I have attached 2 pictures from the first story time I did with the kids. I don't know if it can help you, but you are welcome to use any of them you want. I love the captivated faces.

The other fun part about this is, I am getting my histories done, one story at a time as I prepare for these story telling events." 

Then Joan sent some more ideas on how she works with the kids to make sure they retain what they've learned.  I love her ideas here because she knows that everything works better with food :) and that when you pull the kids in, it often works on other members of the family too.  Great job Joan.  I hope these ideas work for your family too. 

Joan says, "Well after I have done these fun tea parties, and Mother's Day stories (and I have ones already planned for Father's Day),
I don't want those sweet kids to forget!  On Mother's Day, we only spent 15-20 minutes. That's not alot of time to tell of someone's life, or several.
So I have decided to keep on hand the treats from one of those people. Just so happens to be that it is orange sherbet and french bread (toasted).
So I bag up and hide the sherbet from my husband and teenage son (myself too), and buy the french bread on sale, cut it in slices, and freeze in the portions of one little family coming over. So I am 'prepared'!

So when the grandkids drop in unexpectedly, I ask mom and dad if it is okay for some orange sherbet, and then go dish up a scoop in cute bowls. When I bring the tray out, I have some very excited children. 'To get served', they must answer my questions about the grandma that used to serve this treat to their Uncle Ken and I when we were kids. Questions like:

What is her name?  What is her last name?
What did she say when she got excited? (Oh My Stars!)

Now those are about all the things they learned on Mother's Day, so depending on how well they did, I add a little more to it:

And what did her dad do for a living? (mail carrier with a wagon and horses)
And what happened sometimes in the winter? ('The wolves chasing his mail wagon ' story)
And what was his name?  (Chris Lillethun)

Then I distribute the sherbet, and while we are eating it together, I share a little more about that ancestor and thier family (these are generally things they don't know)

And who in our family was named after him? (Your Uncle Chris)
And do you know why Chris Lillethun was such a wonderful dad? (He had 8 girls, and when his wife died, the youngest was only 2 years old, and he took really good care of them. He stayed home every night, would rassle and play on the floor with them...)

What is very cool, is this is when the parents get involved, and start making comments, and ask some questions.  I am hearing things like "I never knew that" "and "I didn't know that."  What had started out for the parents as a nice thing for grandma to do to teach their children some family history, is turning out that they are learning too.

I am writing the stories down and putting them in a notebook for each family, and calling it "Grandma Joan's Bedtime Stories." I've attached a picture of my outside cover for the notebook (me with all my grandkids). I always have several color pictures with each story. One or more are of the people in the story, and some from the internet as I go under 'Google Images'. (note from Janet: make sure you look for images that are licensed for public use.  The notebook has been a hit too. It is helping me get my life story written, and the activites I am doing with the kids bring the stories to life.

And when I go visit the grandkids in another state for a week, what am I going to do? Bring all my tea party items, and stories of course!

Have fun with your familes!"

Thanks Joan!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Family Reunion Ideas

Along with Sandra Walsh's great ideas for a scavenger hunt "Amazing Race" about your family history, she also sent the schedule for the family reunion she organized with her grown children and their families.  What a wonderful party planner she is--as you can see below.  Each day had a theme, and lots of fun activities.  You can see how they fit in the family's history along with lots of fun,  building that family unity and family narrative that is unique to their own family.  They were making some great new family history along the way.  I'm sure these ideas can spark some ideas that will be unique to your family too.

Thanks so much Sandra for sharing!

Sunday, July 1
Theme:  Undercover Boss
5:00 p.m.         And we’re off!  Adult children and spouses meet at Texas Road House in Bountiful for dinner and visiting.  Mom and Dad appreciate spending this time with each of you.  We have some family business that we’ll discuss either at the restaurant or back at the parents’ house following dinner.  The rest of the evening is free to settle into the routine of being in Utah.  Jeremy’s family is staying at Mom and Dad’s home.

Monday, July 2
Theme:  Survivor
10 a.m.            Meet at Mom and Dad’s house to start the day.  Today we’ll get our groove on at LAGOON amusement park in Farmington.  We’d like to experience a family ride on the ferris wheel, then you’re free to divide into groups of daredevils or wimps to explore the rest of the rides and shows.  Enjoy lunch or a snack with your $10 treat voucher whenever you choose.  If you plan to spend the day at Lagoon, you may want to pack sandwiches or take along plenty of granola bars to keep your energy going.  Park hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.  The rest of the day is on your own.
2:30 p.m.         Mom and Dad will leave the park early to go pick up Grandma Holmes in Ogden and bring her back to NSL for the rest of the reunion.
4:15 p.m.         Mom and Dad plan to go to the SLC airport to meet Alan’s family when they arrive.  Al’s family will be staying at the Hampton Inn Salt Lake City Central (2055 S. Redwood Road; 801-886-0703) for the next three nights.

Tuesday, July 3
Theme:  Modern Family
9:15 a.m.         It’s Family Photo Time!  Please meet at the Farmington Rock Chapel (272 N. Main, Farmington) dressed in your shades of blue and brown and be ready to smile.  Dad will have stories to tell you about the Walsh family connection to this historic church, built in 1862. Our photographer is Joey Ferguson, a friend of Dad’s from the Deseret News. Photos will include: a large family group picture; Mom and Dad and grandkids; and Mom and Dad with their four adult sons.  Other poses may be available by request.
11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.     Free time. 
3:30 p.m          Set up for the extended family reunion picnic.  We’d like one representative from each family to help us get things ready.  The location is:  Foxboro Regional Park and Splash Pad, bowery No. 3 (west side), 1140 West, 1100 North, North Salt Lake.
4 – 8 p.m.        Play at the splash pad, visit with the relatives, or enjoy various games this afternoon.  We’ll plan to eat about 5 p.m.  Local fireworks will light up the sky over North Salt Lake about 10 p.m.  You may watch from Brandon’s backyard or from Mom and Dad’s house.  Popcorn provided.

Wednesday, July 4
Theme:  ESPN Sports Center
9:00 a.m.         Meet at Mom and Dad’s house.  Family teams will depart at 9:30 a.m. for an AMAZING RACE experience around Salt Lake City.  Follow your clues to discover unusual sites around the area – with a few challenges or perhaps even a roadblock along the way!  Remember:  gnomes may be watching you!  There will be a lunch stop at a surprise location en route.
Afternoon:       You’ll have a little free time to relax or do whatever you’d like.
4 – 6:15 p.m.   Chris and Karen have invited everyone over for a Patriotic Cookout at their home in South Jordan.  Please stop at one of the local grocery stores to pick up a side dish, drinks or dessert to go along with the menu.
6:15 p.m.         Walsh men and boys will leave for an evening of baseball with the Salt Lake Bees.  There will be a fireworks show at the end of the game.
6:15 p.m.         Tonight the Walsh women and girls will get their giddy-up on at the West Jordan Stampede and rodeo.  Western attire is optional.

Thursday, July 5
Theme:  Let’s Make a Deal
8:30 a.m.         Our final family reunion activity will be a Pancake Breakfast at Mom and Dad’s home in NSL.  Thank you for making the effort to participate in these events and for being with us.  We love you all a great deal and are glad to have you in the Walsh family!  Now, with our blessings, it’s on to your next adventure!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family History Amazing Race

I had a wonderful idea sent to me by Sandra Walsh that I've already shared with several people I've talked too.  This is a good one!  Sandra and I got to talk at the UGA conference this spring and she told me about the wonderful activity she did with her grown children and their families.  For a family reunion activity she sent them on a an "Amazing Race" scavenger hunt to their family history sites in the area.  Each family had to text pictures of themselves at the sites back to her to check off that they had been to the site.  She sent me this list that they used and I'm not sure how these sites relate to their family history, but you can see how one could easily adapt this idea to work for family history sites such as schools, churches, gravesites, businesses and homes that were frequented by your family members.  Add a few stories and pictures and you have a great family history activity.  I'm going to work on putting one together for my family.  Let me know if you try it in yours...

Thanks so much to Sandra for sharing!  Such a fantastic idea! Sandra told me that as the children were leaving after their several day family reunion, many of them had commented to her that this was the funnest activity of all. 
She even put together a graphic just for the family activity.  Here are Sandra's instructions:

  • ·         Follow these clues in the order listed.  It will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete this race.  A 30-45 minute lunch stop is included.
  • ·         The clues are in individual envelopes.  Teams may open one clue at a time.  Some of the envelopes may have money inside to purchase a treat or lunch along the way.
  • ·         Teams may use Google on their cell phones to help solve clues; or; or brochures; or a SLC Downtown Map.
  • ·         Teams should text photos of each location to the game captain when a clue is solved. The game captain may then send an “approved” text if the clue is solved correctly – or a “rejected” text if the team goes to the wrong location.
  • ·         A “roadblock” may be texted to teams during the game.  In this case, the roadblocked team will need to solve an additional clue before continuing on the race.
  • ·         At the final destination, the game captain may have a special rug or mat for the teams to jump on when they complete the race (just like Phil does on TV!)  Small gnome garden statues were presented as “trophies” to some of our individual players.  They had an Amazing Race tag that listed various accomplishments, such as:  “Best texter”; “Best use of fry sauce”; “Best bite of chocolate” (one of our kids lost a loose tooth biting into a chocolate covered strawberry!); “Best clue solver”; “Best use of accessories” (we used colorful bandanas to identify each family/team); “Best clue reader”; “Most photogenic”; etc.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Walsh Family Reunion
July 4, 2012

Clue #1:  This year (2012) is the 150th anniversary of one of America’s great railroads.  Find this large railroad logo and have your team photo made with this symbol in the background.

Union Pacific Railroad sign at The Gateway (18 N. Rio Grande St., SLC)

Clue #2:  Where do the Utah JAZZ play their home basketball games?  There is a statue outside the arena that shows two of their most famous players.  Who were they?  Take a photo of one person on your team trying to steal the ball from one of the statue-players.
John Stockton & Karl Malone
 EnergySolutions Arena  (301 W. South Temple, SLC;

Clue #3:  What did Brigham Young say when he saw the Salt Lake Valley for the first time in 1847?  Take a picture of your team by this statue and tell us where it’s located.  Challenge:  Circle around this statue walking backwards.

“This is the (right) place!” 
This is the Place Monument
2601 E. Sunnyside Ave., SLC

Clue #4:  This facility hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.  Find the Olympic cauldron.  Count the number of rings and name the colors that make up the Olympic symbol.
5 rings – black, blue, yellow, green, red (which are colors found in all the flags of the world!)
Olympic Cauldron Park
Rice Eccles Stadium (1400 East; U of U campus)

Clue #5:  What is the opposite of “little”?  Now find the 8th letter of alphabet.  Put these two clues together to find your next destination. You may spend up to 45 minutes here without penalty.  Each team member will be given $10 to spend for lunch.
Where are you going?  ______________________________________________________________________
HIRES “BIG H” (425 S. 700 E., SLC; 801-364-4582)

Clue #6:   These Little Chocolatiers have delighted TV audiences and locals alike with their hand-made chocolates, carmels and Banana Splits.  The Hatch Family is sure to measure up to your request to taste one of the best chocolates in Utah.  Your challenge here is to do these three things:
1.        Find their store in downtown SLC.
2.       Each member of your team must taste a small bite of one of their special chocolate creations.  ($10 per team allotted.)
3.       You must talk to one of the owners or employees to find out how they started their business.
Hatch Family Chocolates
376 8th Ave., Suite A
Salt Lake City, UT  84013

Clue #7:  Go to City Creek Center, Salt Lake’s newest shopping mall that features 90 stores, a retractable glass roof, a pedestrian skybridge and a creek reminiscent of one you’d see in Utah’s beautiful canyons. Find the ZCMI fa├žade (or front of the building).  What is this building front made from?  What does ZCMI mean?

City Creek Center (50 South Main St., SLC)
Zion’s Cooperative Merchantile Institution, founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1868 to encourage Mormons to buy locally made products.

Clue #8:  Find a statue of a little dog over at City Creek Center.  Something special is available to customers next to the little dog.  Each team should bring us a sample and tell us what it’s used for.

Plastic bag – It’s a pooper-scooper!
City Creek Center (50 S. Main St., SLC)

Clue #9:  Why does Salt Lake City have chirping signs at the downtown crosswalks?  Count the number of chirps it takes you to cross South Temple Street (between City Creek Center and Temple Square)

How many chirps?   _____________________(5)
Downtown crosswalks chirp with two different signals for blind pedestrians and to create a certain avian ambience.  The chirps also serve as a countdown to aid you in crossing the unusually wide streets here.

Clue #10:  Find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Administration Building. What are the names of the pilasters which surround the exterior of this building?  What are they made of?  How many of them are there?

24 Ionic pilasters, which are made of solid granite and weigh approximately 8 tons each
LDS Church Administration Bldg. (47 East South Temple, SLC)

ROADBLOCK:   Find a painting or statue of the first leader of the Mormon Church and take a photo of your team here.

Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Memorial Bldg. on Temple Square; or one of the Visitor’s Centers or the LDS Conference Center

Clue #11:  What is a cupola?  Find two buildings in Temple Square that have a cupola in the shape of a beehive as part of their design.

A Cupola is a decorative feature at the top of the roof on a building.
Beehive Cupola is found on The Beehive House and on top of the old Hotel Utah, now known as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Clue #12:  Find a statue of a pioneer handcart on Temple Square.  How many spokes are on the left back wheel?

No. =  __________________
Statue located near the LDS Church Assembly Hall at Temple Square -- 10 spokes

Clue #13:   Your pit stop for the final leg of the AMAZING RACE is a large white building with a dome that sits atop a hill in downtown SLC.  Go to the east side of this building.  Time your team to see how fast they can run up and down the stairs here. 
Stair climb time:   _________________________
Utah State Capitol
350 N. State St., SLC

Bonus clue: 
Name 2 foods that are probably more popular in Utah than anywhere else:

Fry Sauce, Green Jell-o, Cinnamon Buns, Fried Scones, Bison Burgers, Funeral Potatoes, Ice Cream & Frozen Custard

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Genealogy Guys Podcast Interview.

I got a great chance to sit down and talk with my friend Drew Smith for his Genealogy Guys Podcast at RootsTech in February.  Drew and George Morgan have a great podcast that is a good place to get all the latest news in genealogy.  And I was really excited to talk to them about my new book. 

You can listen here:

Thanks to Drew.  It is always fun to talk to him.  And I always learn something.  I'm sure you will too.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Where I'm teaching about how to connect your family with family history.

I've brought my daughter to the Southern California Genealogy Society Conference this weekend and yesterday I was able to take her out and show her around where her Grandmother grew up like I did with her brother last year.  We had a great time at the beach where her Grandmother used to play.  I'll post pictures soon, along with all the other blogging that I have for you.  It's been a busy couple of months but things are slowing down after this weekend--only local presentations for a while.  So I'm looking forward to catching up on the blog after this weekend and showing  you all the great ideas people have been sending in and that we've come up with.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, I'd love to see you at one of my presentations.

Here is where I'll be in the near future:

This week, at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree I am presenting:
Friday 11:00 - 12:00
Double Your Membership, Double Your Fun:
The UGA Case Study
Friday 2:15 - 3:15 Demo Stage
Apples and Oranges:
How the Genealogy Softwares Create Charts
Saturday 1:45-3:15 Demo Stage
10 Great Ideas to Zap The Grandma Gap
and Connect Your Family With Their Family History
Saturday 3:30 - 4:30
Saturday 4pm
Book Signing (as well as sales and signing in our booth all weekend long)
Beyond Scotch Tape: Charts to Fascinate Your Family
Sunday 2:30
Let’s Get This Party Started:
Family History Conferences for the Whole Family

Next weekend on June 15th I'll be giving the Keynote at the Riverton Family History Library.  
9-10 am  "How to Zap The Grandma Gap and Connect To Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History."

On Tuesday June 18th I'll be speaking at the Pleasant Grove Family History Center
"How to Zap The Grandma Gap and Connect To Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History."

On June 23rd I'm speaking at the BYU Family History Library.
4:30-5:30pm  "Engaging Your Family With Their Family History."

On August 2nd I'm speaking at the BYU Conference for Family History and Genealogy
11:00-12:00am  "Your History Makes Them Take A Nap, Come Learn To Zap The Grandma Gap"

On August 10th I'm giving the Keynote address at the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group. 
9:00-10:00am   "How to Zap The Grandma Gap and Connect To Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History."

Then on September 14th we'll be at the Ogden Family History Conference

12:30-1:30pm  The Cool Parts of Family History: Engaging My Teenagers Case Study
1:45-2:45pm  Beyond The Fan and Scotch Tape: Charts to Fascinate your Family

And on September 21st we'll be at the Logan Family History Conference
I'll be teaching:
The Cool Parts of Family History: Engaging My Teenagers Case Study
Beyond The Fan and Scotch Tape: Charts to Fascinate your Family Times TBD

Lots of new and exciting things going on.  I hope we'll see you there.