In today’s world, families are often scattered far and wide. Keeping the kids in your family connected through a family tree is an excellent way to help them understand who they are and how they fit into the greater world and community around them. This article will inspire your family to get together for a fun and creative family tree project. Now, let’s explore some creative family tree ideas that you can do to help keep those important family ties alive.
Table of Contents
What is a family tree?
A family tree is a picture or 3D representation that shows how all of your family members are connected from generation to generation. Basically, it shows family members how they are related to each other. This visual representation of family connectedness is great for children to experience.
A family tree is an excellent way to combine art with learning about your family history. You can keep it simple for younger kids, perhaps only going back three generations, but older children will have fun researching their deep family history. The important thing is for the children to be engaged in the activity. Good family tree project ideas for kindergarten children are ones that keep them actively involved in the process.
Why are family trees and genealogies important?
Family trees are important for children (teens and adults too for that matter) as they grow and try to establish their own identity and place in the world. A family tree can help them understand why they look the way they do and how they are similar to other family members. Finding out where their ancestors came from can also spark their interest in learning more about world history or a different culture. It can help a child learn to tell their story about who they are and how they came to be.
How to Make a Family Tree: 21 DIY Creative Family Tree Ideas
Making a creative family tree template makes the project more fun and memorable for everyone. There are many creative family tree ideas out there that your family can do for a DIY family tree template. There are also some wonderful 3D family tree project ideas to consider doing. The ideas and projects do not have to be complicated. Try your best to keep it simple and fun for the family. Here are 21 of my favorites that I could find across the Internet.
1. Printable family tree with leaves that the child can glue onto the page. Or use colorful fingerprints for the leaves if you really want to make the project fun and creative.
2. Paint a mural on the wall that shows the tree branches and uses framed photos of family members. Or use a family tree wall decal for a faster project.
3. Circular family tree with the family’s last name in the middle.
4. The good ol’ classic project: Printable family tree with various blank shapes (ovals, hearts, rectangles, etc.) for each family member.
5. Family tree with names as branches.
6. Use old family photos as the branches of the tree.
7. Make a 3D family tree in a shadow box.
8. Family milestones template that shows major events such as births and marriages.
9. Create a family tree quilt as an heirloom.
10. Make Christmas tree ornaments with family photos and old photos of family members for the holidays.
11. Attach and actual tree branch to the wall and use family pictures.
12. Hang a big map on the wall and write the names of where family members were originally from.
13. Include family pets on the family tree.
14. Attach Family photos to clothespins and put them on branches in a flowerpot with the family name on it.
15. Have your child make green thumbprints on a printable template for family members.
16. Have your child make handprints on a tree template.
17. Create a family tree on your stairway wall with family portraits.
18. If you have family heirloom antiques, put a picture of the family member by the object.
19. Use Scrabble pieces to interconnect family member names, glue them, and mount them on a wall.
20. Use blank cards with a photo on the outside and a short story or something about the family member on the inside.
21. Paint the family tree in the child’s room.
Wow. What a list! These are enough ideas to keep your curious family busy for a while!
The Best Family Tree Software for Design and Layout
As you can see, there are many ideas for creatively displaying your family tree. Family tree software can help you organize your material and research before beginning the project. Your choices range from desktop versions that you can purchase, subscription sites, and some that are compatible with other genealogy software. Here is a list of some of our favorite software for family trees.
Online Family Tree Resources
Desktop Family Tree Software
- Ancestral Quest 16
- Family Tree Builder 8
- Family Tree Maker 2019
- Legacy Family Tree 9
- Reunion 12
- RootsMagic 7.5 with TreeShare
What about the 23andMe family tree product?
23andMe has made quite a name for itself in recent years. The popular website offers people a low-cost way to explore your genetics and find out in-depth information about where you came from based on DNA. The 23andMe family tree is extensive and allows you to dive deep into your family roots. Many people have found out some surprising information from this product. However, not everything is rosy when it comes to 23andMe, and they have recently landed in some hot water with the FDA.
For only $99, you can spit in a test tube, mail in the sample, and within a few short weeks find out information about things like whether you are likely to sneeze when you look at a bright light or why you have certain preferences for tastes and smells. The company does this by looking at different sites along your DNA strand that codes for these traits. It can also tell you whether you have certain markers that indicate that you have ancestors in a certain part of the world.
All of this information is fun and entertaining, and it can help you decode your family history. If you have children, it can be an important learning tool. This might seem innocent, but from the beginning, the company was in trouble with the FDA. The FDA considers the test to be a medical device, which means that it must meet FDA approval before being marketed. The kits were being sold before they met the approval, and they even continued selling the devices after being told to stop by the FDA.
The FDA also questioned the accuracy of the results that the company was providing its customers. All the while, 23andMe continued to promote that their tests were indeed safe and that they had the evidence to back up those claims. While these issues are a concern, many of the 23andMe customers were not in it to obtain medical advice about their genome. They were in it for the entertainment and educational value.
As it turns out, this is not the worst threat that this genetic testing company poses to consumers. It seems that their intention was not exactly as stated. It appears as if they wanted to use the service to harvest people’s information. It looks like the long-term business strategy of 23andMe was not to make its fortune selling kits but to collect your personal information and then sell it to medical researchers without your permission.
Once you send in your test kit, your information is entered into a database where it will remain forever to be sold at a later time. As of 2013, the database contained the DNA of over 500,000 people. However, there is possibly an even more nefarious intention behind all of this data collection. I know that I’m going deep here, but this is important stuff. As of 2013, the founder of 23andMe was married to the co-founder of your favorite internet search engine.
Once your data has been sold and entered into the databases of big companies that you did not even know existed, it also carries the potential of being hacked and stolen too. The website itself carries an ominous warning about sharing your genetic information with others because of the potential of using it against your best interests. Hmmm. If you are a person who is concerned about privacy and protecting your personal information, then you need to carefully consider the value of the information that you would receive against the potential risks. I personally won’t submit my genetic information to 23andMe for a family tree project or anything else, but it’s ultimately your choice for you and your family.
Family Trees and American Slavery
One of the challenges that Americans of African descent face is that they often can only find family information that goes back three generations. This can make doing a deep family tree project a tough task for Black families. Although, a history lesson can tell you the general areas on the African continent where the slaves that were captured and sold were from, many times, the records of African ancestors were not kept accurately. Sometimes, they were destroyed either accidentally or on purpose.
As slaves and families were bought, sold, and broken apart, many of the records become difficult to trace. It is not uncommon for the records to be as vague as “one male child.” If you are fortunate, you might be able to get the name of the ancestor who first came across on the slave ship, but even this can be difficult. Not only this, but many of the African people also did not have a written language at that time, so there were no written records. Many African traditions are oral and passed from generation to generation through song and storytelling.
This is a contrast to European ancestors, where it is possible to trace your lineage back to the 1400s. Trying to find family information where scant information is available can be quite challenging. In some cases, the best that you can do is to focus on what we do know about the culture and traditions of the people who survived the inhumane journey across the Atlantic. If you are a member of a Black family like I am, try your best to get as much family information as you can so that you can explore creative family tree project ideas with your family.
As you can see, a family tree is important for helping your family establish a strong sense of history and identity. Parenting is a blessing and this activity can bring out another level of gratitude for life and family. Hopefully, I have given you more than enough creative family tree ideas and resources to get you started. Learning about your family history as a family is an excellent way to bring everyone together and create some memories that will last forever. And after you make your family tree, perhaps you can come together and create a family crest!
Now that you have some ideas for a family tree project, maybe you can shift gears and talk to your kids about money and finances.