by Kate Jackson
Whether you’re a homeschooling parent, a classroom teacher or the designated genealogy educator at a library or church – finding the best way to share the basics (and fun!) of family history with kids and teens can be tough. Luckily, a family tree lesson plan, or one that focuses on ancestry research, can make your job much easier. These super helpful teaching tools make it so you don’t have to create every element of your instruction from scratch.
If you’ve already dug into Pinterest in search of the perfect family history lesson plan, but you’re still in need of something more, we’ve rounded up some of the best sources of free, in-depth resources for students from Pre-K all the way through high school. Looking for adult genealogy education? Check out our online courses.
Every resource on this list is completely free to use. Also, as you discover these resources, be on the lookout for bonus materials – many of these family tree focused lesson plans feature additional teaching resources like printable worksheets, educational game ideas, supportive activities, and family history coloring pages.
Where to Find Free Family Tree Lesson Plans for Kids and Teens
Here are 4 Free Family Tree Lesson Plans to Get You Started Right Away:
- Make a Family Tree from Education.com
- Digging at the Roots of Your Family Tree from PBS Learning Media
- Understanding My Family’s History from Teaching Tolerance
- Who’s Who in My Family from Family Locket
If you are looking to build out a family tree with your students, the four free lesson plans above will get you started right away. You can also find free printable family trees, perfect for kids, here. For resources focused on a wide range of family history research topics see the detailed list below.
8 Additional Sources of In-Depth Family History Lesson Plans:
This partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for the Humanities is brimming with educational materials for any educator interested in teaching the humanities in their home or classroom.
From family tree lesson plans to student resources to interactive features – EDSITEment! goes in-depth into a very wide variety of topics, including family history. Search all the lesson plans here or check out our top picks, for grades K-5, below:
- Where I Come From
- What is History? Timelines and Oral Histories
- My Piece of History
- How Did Surnames Come to Be? Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3 and Lesson 4
2. The Learning Network
This educational resource from the New York Times publishes over a thousand teaching materials every year.
In addition to many lessons regarding current events, geography, and an expansive writing curriculum, this useful site also features several lesson plans for teaching elements of family history research.
Educators can use up to 5 lesson plans per school year for free. Find these genealogy lesson plans, geared toward middle schoolers and up, below:
This online tool from the U.S. National Archives is centered around teaching with documents. A resource for students and teachers, DOCSTeach features lessons and activities that can teach the budding family historian how to use primary source documents in their genealogy research and beyond, an important part of building a family tree.
In addition to a wide array of lesson plans and activities relating to this critical element of family history research, educators can also customize their own activities using this tool. Get started using DOCSTeach here or go straight to some of their genealogy-related lesson plans below:
4. National First Ladies’ Library
The National First Ladies Library is an organization focused on preserving and promoting the accomplishments of the First Ladies of the U.S.
Among many other interesting resources, this site offers dozens of free history lesson plans for educators to use – including a lesson that aims to get middle school students interested in family tree research as it relates to U.S. and world history. Check it out below:
Michael John Neill, of the genealogy research site RootDig, has put together a great lesson plan for introducing the elementary student to census research, family group sheets, and more. You can find it below:
6. Growing Little Leaves
Focused on the youngest family historians – from toddler to elementary – Growing Little Leaves shows us that even the smallest ones can participate in family history.
In addition to a bounty of ancestry-focused lesson plans and activities, this site features fun add-ons like coloring pages, printables, games, crafts and tons more. Check out all they have to offer below:
- Kid-Friendly Genealogy Activities, Projects, and Crafts
- Free Family History Lesson Plans and Resources
7. Library of Congress
It comes as no surprise that the Library of Congress, with all it has to offer the family history researcher, would have a few gems in store for those looking to educate younger generations about genealogy research.
You can browse all Library of Congress lesson plans, each of which use primary sources from the LOC, here. We’ve included our favorites below:
8. Family Locket
The Family Locket’s focus is on helping family historians become better researchers as well as including kids in the adventure of family history research.
Much of their educational content for kids is focused on the youngest of family historians but their expansive resource library features materials for teaching family history to kids and teens alike.
From printables to crafts to free family tree lesson plans and more – the resource library is not to be missed. Find it, as well as preschool plans, below:
Need a little something more? Learn where to find hundreds of free genealogy printables, including ones for kids, right here.
Hoping to continue your own education in family history research to help your students? Consider taking a genealogy research course from Family History Daily.
Best of luck and happy teaching!
Image: Children in classroom, between 1919 and 1929, American Red Cross. Library of Congress.