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Kids encouraged to branch out by creating a family tree

Kamahl Cogdon, May 24, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

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Making a family tree is a great way for kids to connect with their relatives and find out more about where they came from. media_cameraMaking a family tree is a great way for kids to connect with their relatives and find out more about where they came from.


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Coronavirus lockdown* has brought family into focus. While some family members have spent more time together, with kids learning and parents working from home, others have been forced apart.

Researching* and creating a family tree is a great way for you to connect with relatives and get an understanding of where you’ve come from, according to Society of Australian Genealogists* education officer Danielle Lautrec.

“It’s a great way for kids to find out more about their extended family and learn about different places and different times,” Ms Lautrec said.

“I think it’s very important to understand about different types of families and different types of people, and for children to feel connected to the people in their family.”

I remember every vacation with your granny media_cameraLooking at old photos with grandparents is a great way to learn about your family history.

National Library of Australia education manager Ben Pratten said researching ancestry* helped kids understand their place in the world.

“It starts to help kids feel part of something that is bigger and older than themselves,” he said.

“It puts things into perspective* a bit for kids.”

It also helped them learn important research skills that could help them study other areas of history.

Old Genealogy Family History Photographs and Documents 5 media_cameraOld family photos can provide clues about the lives of your ancestors.

Ms Lautrec recommended children started their research by talking to their parents and grandparents, asking the following questions:

● What is their birthday?

● Where were they born?

● When did they get married?

● Where did they get married?

● Do/did they have brothers and sisters?

● What are/were their names?

● What is/was their mother’s name?

● What is/was their father’s name?

● Do they have any old photographs of the family? If they do, can they name the people in the photographs?

Looking together media_cameraConnect with older family members by asking them about their life and history.

Older children could extend* their research by including cousins, aunts and uncles, and learning about other countries their relatives might have come from.

“It can also be an opportunity to talk about issues around families, such as birth, marriage, death, adoption, same sex couples and unmarried mothers, depending on the age of the children,” Ms Lautrec said.

Genealogy Study media_cameraOlder children can do more research by using online tools and talking to extended family members.

She suggested kids create a scrap book of their own and their relatives’ memories, stories and photographs to complement* their family tree.

Mr Pratten said older children might also like to use online resources* available through the National Library, such as Trove, which contains digital reproductions* of historic* newspapers, journals, books, maps and personal papers.


  • lockdown: stopped from moving around freely
  • researching: learning about
  • genealogists: a person who traces or studies family history
  • ancestry: a family’s origin and background
  • perspective: a point of view, a way of seeing things
  • extend: increase
  • complement: add to and improve
  • resources: tools that can help
  • reproductions: copies
  • historic: from the past


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  1. What are some of the benefits of researching your family tree?
  2. How should children start their research?
  3. Name three questions kids should ask their relatives.
  4. What can kids add into a scrap book to go with their family tree?
  5. What is the name of the online resource at the National Library of Australia that can help with research?


1. Make a family tree
Create your own family tree, with you at the bottom and branches extending up and out to include your relatives. The format and amount of detail to include will depend on your year level as follows:

Include the family members that you live with plus your grandparents. Draw each person and write down their relationship to you.

YEAR 3-4
Include your immediate family (parents and siblings), grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Draw each person and arrange the branches in a way that shows the relationships between people.

YEAR 5-9
Include as many members of your family as you can, extending back into the past for as long as you have information available for. Create your family tree digitally, including photographs of each person if they are available. Arrange the branches in a way that shows the relationships between people. Include any additional information that you can find out such as dates of birth, death or marriage, locations where relatives were born or lived, and their occupations.

Time: allow from 30 minutes up to 4 hours to complete this activity (dependent on year level and complexity)
Curriculum Links: English; Humanities and Social Sciences

2. Extension
Be guided by the following prompts to delve into your family’s history. Talk with older members of your family about what they can personally remember or stories that have been passed along to them. Record what you find out by writing it down, recording a video, or retelling the story in an audio recording.

Find out about something scary, funny or exciting that happened to one of your relatives in their childhood.

YEAR 3-4
Find out about a family tradition from one of your relative’s childhoods. It might be a special event or celebration, or just something that their own family regularly did. Ask them questions to find out how the tradition changed over time and the ways that their tradition is both similar and different to something that you do today with your family.

YEAR 5-6
Find out about the occupation of one of your relatives from a past generation. What job did they have? How or why did they come to be employed in that occupation? What types of tasks did they perform and what type of tools or equipment did they use? How did their job contribute towards society? How did they feel about their job and what was the standing of their profession in wider society? Does that job still exist today — if yes, how has it changed and if not, why?

Find out about your family’s history and connection to Australia.

If your ancestors are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, talk about the places, languages and traditions of your family. Discuss how European settlement in Australia impacted upon your relatives in the past and continues to do so in the present. What traditions have been retained? What has been lost?

If your ancestors came to Australia from 1788 onwards, choose one member or branch of your family and explain when, why and how they came to Australia. Who did they come with? What made them choose Australia? What was their experience when they arrived? Was their move typical at the time (that is, were lots of people coming to Australia from that location at a similar time) or was it an unusual move? Did Australia provide them with a better life or more opportunity?

Time: allow from 30 minutes up to 1.5 hours to complete this activity (dependent on Year level and complexity)
Curriculum Links: English; Humanities and Social Sciences

Up-Level It
Scan through the article and see if you can locate three words that you consider to be basic, or low level. Words we use all the time and they can be replaced by more sophisticated words, words like good and said are examples of overused words.

Once you have found them, see if you can up-level them. Think of synonyms you could use instead of these basic words, but make sure they still fit into the context of the article.

Re-read the article with your new words.

Did it make it better?

Why/Why not?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What period of time would you like to have lived in?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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