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Keeping Family History Alive for Kids: The Manilla Folder

Keeping Family History Alive for Kids: The Manilla Folder

When my younger brother A was born, my Grandma Cutler came to stay with us for a few days to help with my younger sister S (who was 3) and me (who was 7). I don't remember much about her stay, although we have a picture of her coming with me to lunch at school (which I am just pleased as punch about!), but I do remember that she brought a manilla folder with her, full of old photographs of my dad when he was younger, my grandpa (who died when my dad was 15) and other relatives and ancestors. Each night at dinner as we sat up to the stainless steel bar, she would let S and I choose a photograph from the envelope and would tell us the story that went with it. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember what any of the pictures were specifically or the stories that went with them, but I do remember that manilla envelope and am filled with a warm and filling feeling for my Grandma, and my ancestors when I think of that experience learning from her every night. Sure, it would be better if I remembered the specifics, but I believe that it's the love that matters most. Love that binds the generations together and brings us joy in knowing that families are forever.

Thinking about my grandma's manilla folder has had me thinking about how Kesler and I can help create similar experiences for baby F and our future children? How can we instill that love? What ideas have you tried, or do you want to try in your home with your children? Tell us in the comments!

Want to create a family tree chart for your home to help get the conversation started? Choose a starting template here!

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A Harry Potter Example of a Family Tree and What It Taught Me

A Harry Potter Example of a Family Tree and What It Taught Me

harry potter family tree

I am a Potterhead, a term defined by Urban Dictionary as "amazingly cool people who are obsessed with Harry Potter." This means that when casting about for a fictitious family tree chart to make Harry Potter immediately came to mind.

Some parts of James, Albus and Lily's family history were already well known to me--I didn't have to look them up. Who could forget Harry's parents, James and Lily, for their spectacular sacrifice in giving up their lives for his, but also in passing down James' unruly black hair and Lily's green eyes.

Other portions of their family history required actual research (thank you internet!). Some things I learned for the first time (Molly Weasley's maiden name is Prewett?) but others came back to me with little jolts of excitement as they were pulled from the recesses of my memory. Seeing Cedrella Black's name reminded me of the familial connection through the Black line of Sirius, Bellatrix, the Malfoys, Tonks, and the Weasleys. Lily's last name being Evans pulled me back to the grand reveal of Snape's love for Lily that answered the question once and for all where his allegiance lay.

The entire experience from beginning to end probably took me half an hour, but researching and creating this fictitious family tree made me even more excited about Harry Potter, more connected with the characters. It was a nice reminder to me that the reverse would also be true; that by spending time getting to know the stories of my own ancestors would allow me to experience even more joy and connection each time I see their names in my own pedigree chart. A worthy endeavor? Absolutely.

If you'd like to watch the making of this Harry Potter example of a family tree chart see below:

 

 

P.S. Want to start your chart from this family tree template? Click here

 

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