Want to connect more with your family on vacation? Like ditch the screens and have some fun/possibly learn something, too? I love incorporating family history into our vacations in fun and meaningful ways. Knowing who we are and where we came from is important, but how to do this on vacation without boring the kids to tears, right? These three tips have worked well with my children ages 5-14!
1. Be Excited About What They Are Excited About.
If you want your children to be excited about your interests, get excited about theirs! For every museum and historical monument we stop at on vacation, I make sure we also visit swimming pools and playgrounds. I am discovering the more I get curious about and participate in my children’s and husband’s interests, the more likely they are to try new things, too. For example, I am typically not an animal person, but I had so much fun at an excursion with miniature Highland cows this week. My family LOVED it and I loved seeing them happy.
2. Find the Fun.
I am always on the lookout for fun and interactive museums. My kids became much more interested in pioneer history at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum when they were able to engage with the hands-on exhibits. They dressed up in pioneer clothes, made tough decisions about what they could fit in their wagons, played horseshoes, and went on a scavenger hunt for logos in the exhibits. My husband and I had to set the pace and example at several of the exhibits. The kids were eager to get to the next activity, so they flew through a lot of exhibits without looking closely. When they saw us having fun and doing the games – nine times out of ten they joined in!
3. Make It Personal.
My kids are much more interested in a topic/person, when they see how it is connected to them. When we go to museums, sometimes we play a game called, “Find My Ancestor.” If the kids can find ancestors and take pictures of them (if pictures are allowed in the museum, of course), we get a treat afterwards. The more ancestors the better! First, they typically look for familiar last names, but they have also been learning how to look people up on the Family Tree app by Family Search.
For example, we went to the Park City Museum because my husband’s great-great-grandfather was a Park City Miner. Ole (or Olaf) Johnson worked in the mines with his sons and brothers. We learned so much about Park City life during the time he lived there, but we lucked out on finding any mention of him. However, my daughter was quick to point out the Kimball stagecoach. I come from a long line of Kimballs and we are indeed related to the owners of the stagecoach business. William Kimball is the son of Heber C Kimball and brother to David Patten Kimball. Both Heber and David are our direct line ancestors. It was fun to read about their ties to Park City. Kyler also found this fun wanted poster for Kid Parker in the jail. He took the picture so I’m not entirely sure if Kid Parker is real, but he does share our last name! We love playing this game at museums because suddenly their stories become our stories. We see how we are connected to history and part of a bigger story. Give it a try next time you are at a museum!
Meaningful connections can happen in so many ways! Find out what works for your family and what is important to them. What is your favorite way to connect with your kids on vacation? Tell us in the comments!