Try Some of These Fun Family Discovery Activities, As a Family!

As a FAMILY, try exploring the different aspects of your ancestor's lives. The more information that we discover about our ancestors, the more we connect with them. This connection gives us a sense of belonging to something powerful and great that spans generations.

Discovery is all about finding some cool new facts or stories about your deceased kindred family. It is not about ransacking Family Tree for "green temples". Take the time to find out more about your family, such as where they came from, their traditions, and so much more!

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Explore Some of These Ways to Learn About Your Ancestors

Walk Where They Walked

Here are a couple of fun ideas

Try Driving Around Your Ancestor's Home Land

I "drove" around Dunseverick, Northern Ireland by using Google Maps and got a great idea about the the general landscape, housing, farm lands, and even a view of the Giant's Causeway. I saw Dunseverick Castle, which existed in the time of my 3rd Great Grandfather when he lived there. Dunseverick castle is pretty much a pile of rocks now, but I can imagine it to be a place that he and his family visited in the early 1800s.

Go visit places that your ancestors lived in. Get a sense of what the terrain, city, and other landmarks may have been like when they lived there. Can you find the street they lived on, and perhaps the same house they lived in? Explore the neighborhood where they lived.

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Using any internet browser you can search for information about your ancestors, such as the places they lived.

Take some time to just see what you may find out there about your family. If you need some help, we have classes or individual help to show you how to do this.

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The old photo above was called Gwynn's Bridge, built to span the American Fork River in Placer County, California, that ran past Rattlesnake Bar. This was a mining town in middle 1800s where my 2nd Great Grandfather lived with his family. His little town now is located under water behind Folsom Dam in Auburn/Sacramento, California.

Feel What They Felt

Here are a couple of fun ideas

Read stories about your deceased family members!

Stories that help us relate to the emotions that our ancestors felt can create a strong emotional connection with them. As we read or hear those stories, we can begin to empathize with others that may be going through similar circumstances in their lives.

One letter I have in my possession is the letter written by my great grandfather to his wife and oldest daughter, Carol, who were back east visiting. It mentions a heart breaking incident in which his only two boys drowned in the Alameda estuary.


Write your own thoughts and emotions about your life events!

We also have our own heritage, our life challenges and successes that we need to share with our posterity. We should be active in preserving our thoughts, stories, and testimonies for our posterity to remember us by.

Take some time to write some brief memories about your life experiences, and then SHARE them with your posterity.

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Taste What They Tasted

Each of our families have traditions regarding foods, such as grandma's scrumptious roast, favorite desserts, breads, etc. These recipes are passed down through generations. Foods bring memories of smells, tastes, favorite times such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

Some 30 years ago, my wife took some cooking classes while we lived in Washington State and learned how to cook really good Chinese food. Every year since then when the family all comes together, the kitchen becomes a crowded place with some rolling spring rolls, others making fried rice, orange chicken, and other dishes. This has become a tradition for our family.

My grandmother cooked the BEST pot roast, potatoes, and pies. Another scrumptious meal was her filet mignon cooked in this little counter top broiler. I don't think anyone has been able to duplicate her meals, but I will always remember my grandmother for the types of foods that she cooked.

Exploring and cooking favorite foods from an ancestor's homeland is another way to discover and perpetuate traditions down to our posterity.

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Hear What They Heard or Said

Listen to Old Recordings of Your Ancestors

It is a wonderful blessing to be able to hear grandma sing a song in her native language, or to hear an ancestor tell of life experiences.

How many of our families have old tape recordings or cassettes, or stories told on VHS tapes by ancestors? We can help you digitize these stories and upload them to Family Tree. We have the equipment to do so.

Create Your Own Recordings

If you do not have any recordings, then start to create recordings of your life by using your smartphone. Let your grandkids hear you tell a fun story that teaches them important principles. I would love to have heard the voices and stories of my ancestors. Let your children or grandchildren have the opportunity to hear you voice.

Stories could be about your mission, how you and your spouse met, difficult times in your life, funny events, etc. Stories can be up to about 15 minutes. Since we live in a "sound bite" world, it is best to keep stories short. The Memories App for the smartphone even presents you with a list of questions that you could tell a story about.

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Read What They Wrote

Read Old Letters to Your Family

Reading old letters gives us a great idea what their thoughts were about, what life events were of interest to them, feelings for their family and friends, or their feelings that were expressed through letters. There is also the experience at looking at family letters that are old and date into the early 1800s.

Read Stories About Your Ancestors

How about reading stories written about your ancestors. Explore the FamilySearch Partner app, "All the Stories" to pull out the ancestral stories that are found in Family Tree. Explore these as a family.

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Touch What They Touched

Every family has "old things" that have been handed down through the years from ancestors. It could be a pair of great grandpa's glasses. Try them on. Touch them. How about a poem written by an ancestor on an old piece of paper, or an old letter? How about grandma's old dress? Or as to the right, touch great grandpa's old medical instruments.

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See What They Saw

Search For Things They Saw

Search for things that may have been everyday sights for your ancestors. The photo to the right is a replica of the "famine ships" that carried many Irish emigrants to the USA or to Canada.
My ancestors came from Northern Ireland on ships just like these. While on a tour of Ireland a few years ago, I was able to actually see the small size and characteristics of what these famine ships looked like. I developed a greater feeling for them as I pictured in my mind what it would have been like to sail the ocean on a small ship such as this.

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Have a Family "Movie Night"

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How about having a "movie night" with your family? I remember the days when my family pulled out the old movie projector and screen, and showed movies of my parents and we as kids growing up. Why not relive the camping trips, watching the new house be built, the birthday parties, etc with your own movie collection? Oops…did you record your movies on VHS tapes? Is your recorder still working? Purchasing a new one will cost a premium price since they are no longer manufactured.

Okay…bring your VHS tapes to our library and we will help you convert them into a digital format that can be easily copied and shared with others. We will show you how this is done. Even transferring your VHS tapes commercially to a DVD playable format is no longer a good option. DVD's are a media type that will likely not be available in a few years. If you do have DVDs, we can help you rip the video file off the DVD and save as a digital file.

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A Few Other Ideas

Put up maps around your home showing migrations or where ancestors may have served missions
Put out old family artifacts, photo books of ancestors, or a book of stories about them, etc.
Search for cemetery headstones, occupations that they may have worked at, or anything that contributes to a greater understanding of the lives of your ancestors.

Try These Other "Discovery" Activities As A Family

Try the Mobile Family Tree App

Family Tree Mobile App

The mobile app allows you to review your pedigree, family relationships, photos & stories, review and attach sources to your family members, and review the temple status.

App Features

From your phone or tablet device:

  • Add a story to an ancestor
  • Add a document to an ancestor
  • Record an audio recording of a parent or grandparent
  • Review an animated map showing where your family's ancestors came from
  • Use the "Relatives Around Me" to see a list of living relatives that also have their mobile Family Tree app active and on the same WiFi network. That's pretty cool when you think of it. It's amazing how many "cousins" we have around us and likely never realize it.

Discover the stories, photos, recordings, and histories of your ancestors by just exploring the app features.

Give the app a try! To go to the download webpage: For Android devices, click HERE. For Apple devices, click HERE.

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Watch Cute Video on Importance of Learning About Our Heritage

This is a true story of a young boy named Jared McCloud who wants to learn how to play the bagpipes. His persistence and the annoyance for the family and the neighborhood, gradually gives way to the family learning more about their Scottish heritage. It is so important not to forget that heritage that we come from, and you don't even have to learn to play bagpipes to do so.

There are other cute videos about family history that can be found HERE.

Explore the New FamilySearch Discovery Pages

FamilySearch has created "modules" that allow you to explore your ancestors in different ways. For example, would you like to know more about your Pioneer Ancestors, or know about their occupations? Another feature is called "Compare a Face" which uses the photos that have been uploaded to Family Tree to see who you most look like. Did any of your ancestors have similar interests to you?

To access this webpage, click HERE. You will then need to log into FamilySearch to see all the available features.

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Try Out Some of The Many Fun Family History Games

BYU Family History Technology Labs has created a variety of online games that will test your knowledge about your ancestors. Try them out as a family! Click HERE or on the image to the right to go to their website. You will need to sign in with your FamilySearch account.

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The Family History Guide is also a great place to explore for family centered activities that teach about family heritage and traditions. Click HERE or on the image to the right for access to their website page.

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Have a Discovery Experience With Your Ward Consultant
Use Your Ward Temple & Family History Consultant

Did you know that your Ward Temple & Family History Consultant has access to some great tools that can greatly take you down the path of discovery. They have access to what is called a "Consultant Resources" webpage where they can quickly access many different aspects of your Family Tree. Ask your Ward Temple and Family History Consultant to help you to begin your adventure in discovery.

Don't Start With Research

For MANY families, it will NOT start with "researching", but more towards having a "discovery experience" where they may sit down and show you some fun and interesting things about an ancestor. Perhaps there are photos, or stories written about that ancestor, or a physical description of them, such as found in World War I Draft Registration Records. It is truly a discovery process when reviewing a 1900 census record, for example, and see your grandmother's family listed with all of her family members, where they lived, etc. There are many different records out there that can give us small clues about our ancestors, about their lives, occupations, etc. You may discover that you have the same musical, or literary talents as a great grandmother.

Determine Your Level of Experience

Your level of experience may be anything from "I don't have a FamilySearch login" to "I saw my pedigree once", to "I found a "green temple" and took that name to the temple", to more advanced attaching of sources, reviewing census records, etc.

Come to Our Library For a Discovery Experience

Our large 55" interactive touchscreen TV is a fun way to explore facts about you and your family. There are migration maps that show where your ancestors came from and the different cities they lived in. There are stories and photos that you can review as well. Another fun module is the "Famous Relatives" one that shows you a variety of important or famous people that you are related to.

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One of the enjoyable activities we have at the library, is our "green-screen" photo opportunity. Have your family photo taken and then we'll overlay your photo on top of a background of your choosing as shown in the photo below.

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Each of our library computers is also set up to display the same information as the large touchscreen TV, although there is one additional module called "Picture My Heritage" (or "Replace a Face"), a favorite activity for the youth. This is where you use the PC camera to photograph your face, and then insert your face into a variety of old photographs of your choosing, such as the one with the old soldier. The photo is automatically sent to your email account in FamilySearch.

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