If you are looking for new activities to do with your aging parent, you might want to consider creating a family tree together. Creating family trees are wonderful for older adults not only for the fun they will have creating them, but also share to share information about family history, exercise the memory and strengthen the family support system.
In this day and age, people are able to find almost all the information they need on the internet. As a result, you wouldn’t have to travel to your home town and look through mountains of folders in the genealogy records of the government, searching for your great-great Aunt Linda. Researching your family background will definitely require some work, but it is not as daunting as it was before technology came in the picture. There are many ways to go about the research. Here are some useful tips to know about making a family tree.
Make sure you include your aging loved one in every step of the way. Ask for their opinions and remember that ultimately, this project is for them.
Helpful Tips in Creating a Family Tree
If you are ready to discover your genealogy, here are some helpful tips that can aid you to kick start your project:
Before you begin your search, it is highly beneficial to plan ahead. What exactly do you want to look for? Being organized makes it easier for you to focus and know what you want to look for.
Begin in your own home.
So where exactly do you begin your search? Start your looking for clues in your aging loved one’s home or in your ancestral home. Go through family albums and important documents that are stored away in the attic or in closets. You can also ask other family members for items that might be of use. Some people like to hold on to certain keepsakes such as letters, postcards, photos, old books, and the like. Old photos and books may have written notes inside or on the back.
You can talk to your aging loves one and other family members and ask them about family stories, not just mere names and dates. The elderly family members would know more about the family history than anybody.
Focus and organize your search.
Family trees can get a little complicated for you and your loved one. It is better to begin with just one or two family names. You can begin with the maternal side of your loved one, learn what you can about them before you move on to the paternal side. Through this, you can keep your things organized and avoid missing major details.
Make use of every resource you have. Your greatest resource will probably be technology. There are various genealogy databases on the internet such as ancestry.com and worldvitalrecords.com for premium sites and there are sites you can use for free such as familysearch.org and US GenWeb.
If you want to do it the traditional way, you can head out to your local library or family history center and search for records of your family – birth and death certificates, wills, land deeds, and the like. Other information can be useful as well such as the places your family lived, where your deceased loved ones are buried, and courthouses. You’d be surprised at the plethora of information you would gain.
Stitch the pieces together.
As you go through the process of obtaining information, it is best to document everything through pictures or notes so it will be easier to translate all that information into an actual graphical family tree.
The websites mentioned above and more are of great help to people creating family trees and uncovering family secrets and stories that were unknown. You can design a family tree online or you can do it with papers, pictures, and cut-outs and invite your elderly loved one over to help you stitch the pieces together.
Ways to Create a Family Tree
After you have gathered all the necessary information, here are ways you and your elderly loved one can spend quality time and create a family tree together:
A creative way to make a family tree is by putting the names or pictures (or both) on a chalkboard where you can hang them in the living room. You can build a chalkboard from scratch o you can purchase one in a store.
Anji Johnson shares her family tree that showcases vintage family photos hung on branches. You can be more creative and make your family tree out of any materials that you want and you can frame it or hang it on the wall. As for the reflection family tree, it can be displayed within a frame to give that reflection effect.
If you are not up for the challenge of making a family tree from scratch, you can purchase a family tree decal that will sure to be the focal point of your house. A standard size decal from SimpleShapes costs about $150 and measures 107 inches wide and 90 inches high. You are able to tailor the size and color of the decal to your personal preferences. This is a great decoration in any room, be it the family room, the nursery, or wherever suits your taste.
This is a simple piece that even your elderly loved ones can do by themselves because you do not have to be a skilled calligraphy artist or a graphic designer to work your magic. With your help, your loved one can also use the WordArt from Microsoft Word where you can download colorful fonts that suit your preferences and you can instantly create a family tree in whatever font or format you want it to be.
Brooke Reynolds created a simple yet elegant family tree that was meant to be a Christmas card but ended up to be a precious memento for Brooke’s parents. In building a silhouette family tree, you will need the profile pictures of your family members. After that, you will have to trace them in an illustrator to create that silhouette effect and lastly, organize it into generations and put a label on each picture.
You can purchase PrintFunFactory’s DIY family tree for only $3.49. The package contains two zip files that you are able to download on your computer and print the family tree template and labels on a specialty paper, photo paper, or standard paper. This is perfect as a gift to loved ones, or you can glue it on scrapbooks, or frame it and place it on your elderly loved one’s coffee table.
Out of all the family trees, this has got to be the most unique and creative one. You can simply take a picture of your grandmother/father that’s holding a picture of his daughter/son, and so on and so forth. It is a fun project where you can get all the family members together for a quick photo shoot.
Discovering where you come from and who your ancestors were is not an easy task. It can be hard to find accurate information on databases and old records. It is best to try different ways of getting a hold of that information before you call it quits. You also will have to search for information through multiple platforms that allow you to look into the census or military information.
The hard part of the project is obtaining information but once you have everything in place, creating a family tree can be a fun learning experience for all generations. Once you have it set up, you can add more pictures and names year after year for generations to come.