3 Reasons Why Using a Family Tree Can Help a Kid in School

adam bingaman graveAs a former teacher and amateur genealogist, I welcome this guest post from Suzie Kolber, who has developed an online resource featuring free tools for DIY family history projects. Her article is a must-read for classroom or home-school teachers or others who’d like to introduce children to the fascinating discovery of where they come from.


Family trees are fun for anyone who wants to learn about their family heritage. However, kids can benefit from them as well even if they aren’t interested in family history yet. Depending on the child’s age and the purpose of the family tree, it can benefit them in four different ways in school.

  1. It Makes History Come to Life

If they are learning about World War I or the Vietnam War in school, it will be much easier to learn the facts if they can associate it with a real person. A great-grandparent or uncle may have served in one of those wars, which will make the information they learn in school a lot more real.

Find out what era they are studying, and make an effort to find out how your family is connected. The further back you have to go, the more difficult but it is possible to find family members from a century ago. Even if all you have is vague information such as your family originated in Ireland, it will make that country more memorable in world history.

  1. It Teaches Kids How to Research

Research is one task your kids will have throughout their school years. Many times, it will be on subjects they consider boring and irrelevant. Make research more interesting by having them help you find out about your ancestors. Teach them how to use the internet and other resources such as the microfiche film at the public library. Show them how to find information from the country records.

As they use these unique resources, it will make research more interesting. Instead of being a required project, it will be more like solving a mystery. As you add names to your family tree, they will feel a sense of pride in accomplishing a complicated task.

  1. It Teaches Kids How to Organize Information

It can be overwhelming to do a research project and then try to put it all together in a way that makes sense. It may be even more challenging if your child is a visual learner. A family tree is a great way to teach a child how to organize information in a way that makes sense and allows the facts to be relevant.

As your child fills in names and other information on the various people in your ancestry, they will learn how to develop associations. They will also understand how to format information so that it makes sense. Since there are so many different kinds of family trees, they can put as much or as little information as they want. With some, it may simply be a name on a tree. For others, they may include birth and death dates, marriage dates and a lot more.

A family tree project can provide an exciting way to help your child learn in school. It teaches them skills they will use throughout their lives, and it does it in a fun way.

Suzie_Kolber_ObitSuzie Kolber created http://obituarieshelp.org/free_printable_blank_family_tree.html to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects.  The site offers the largest offering of family tree charts online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.


I love onomatopoeia.

You remember, words that sound like their definition. In writing my book, I needed my character to wail in anguish. I needed a really strong onomatopoeia.

The internet is a wealth of amazing information. Yet, I have to wonder who puts in the countless hours in front of a screen plugging in this drivel–I mean, data. I don’t know who you guys are, but I’m grateful for your time and personal sacrifice.

Here are a couple of interesting websites that helped me this week. First, check out “Written Sound: How to Write the Sound of Things” at http://writtensound.com. You can peruse an alphabetical listing of all the collected “words that imitate sounds.” Or you can search them by topics such as Weather, Music, Explosions, or Gas.

Check it out. These words can be fun. You’ll find the old stand-bys you studied in fifth grade such as buzz, giggle, and hiccup. And a couple I would challenge as onomatopoeia at all, like oops or cliche. (Really? A worn, played-out phrase sounds like cliché?I can’t see it or hear it.)

Gwuf, gwuf
But then there are the unique and intriguing ones like …

           Flibbertigibbet: a flighty, gossipy young woman          
       Gwuf, gwuf, gwuf: footsteps (Can’t you hear them?)
           Kish, kish: ice skates during a hockey game

And, although I’ve never been on a subway during an important announcement, I can imagine the loudspeaker sounds like “thisshig rrrerrk.”

But what about wailing in anguish? I found “argh,” which according to one entry on Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/), is “the correct version of an expression of frustration or anger.”

The sample sentence given is “No brigette, argh is spelled with an h and not just arg.”

You would think someone so concerned about the correct spelling of a word like argh would know to capitalize a proper noun. More than that, as it turns out, the word arg or argh has more spellings than you can possible imagine.

For that, may I direct you to “The Aargh Page” at http://osteele.com/words/aargh#? On that page is an impressive chart of all the possible spellings of aargh, along with how often and where each spelling has been found in print—from argh to (I kid you not) aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!

Whoever put this together, I commend you while I urge you in the strongest possible terms to get out more.

As for my story, I had my character cry, “Aarrrrgh,” showing he is obviously in pain without being, you know, too splashy.

Ahem. Anyway, in order to avoid too much babble and blather, descending into gibberish—you know, yadda yadda yadda–I believe I’ll close.