Alphabet Rocks

Alphabet Rocks Alphabet Rocks

The alphabet rocks! And these rocks rock the alphabet. This is a simple craft that is even more fun to play with once they are done. It starts off by going on a rock hunt, filling a bucket with similar sized rocks, and ends with fun adventures with the alphabet! You can practice the alphabet with your little one by putting the rocks in order, or spell simple words like Caitie did with her friends in the classroom, in our episode all about rocks!

Alphabet Rocks

Things you’ll need

  • Rocks
  • Alphabet stickers
  • Multi coloured craft paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Clear spray paint matte OR lustre finish OR Mod Podge (to help them last longer)
  • *Optional – permanent marker to outline letters
Alphabet Rocks


  • Wash the rocks and leave to dry.
  • Once dry, stick the alphabet stickers onto the rocks, or hand paint the letters onto the rock with craft paint.
  • Decorate your rocks! You can make dots by using a fine tip paint brush, or by dipping either end of a pencil into paint. You can define the letters by outlining them with a permanent parker.
  • Alphabet Rocks
  • Once dry, add thin layers of clear spray paint so they last longer. Leave to dry in-between coats. You can use Mod Podge and paint on one layer at a time.
Alphabet Rocks

Rock Monsters

Rock Monsters

Monster rock! Especially, rock monsters! These funky monsters are made from rocks found outside, and craft supplies that you probably already have at home. You can get creative adding extra eyes, hair, or horns – anything you like to truly make these monsters rock!

What you’ll need:

Rock Monsters
  • Smooth round rocks – go for a rock hunt outside to find the rocks that will work best for your monsters!
  • Craft paint – use any colours you like!
  • Paint brush
  • Glue stick
  • Black marker
  • Q tips (Q tips make it easy to paint teeth on your monsters)
  • Things for decorating: googly eyes, fun fur, feathers, pom poms, felt or construction paper.


1. Prime rocks with white craft paint. It helps to paint them white first so the colourful paint you choose for your monster is nice and bright.

Rock Monsters

2. Paint the rock the colour you want your monster to be.

Rock Monsters

3. Decorate your monster! Teeth can be made by dipping the end of a Q-tip into paint. Draw any fine lines with a marker. Glue on googly eyes, pom poms, and use fun fur, felt or feathers for hair.

Rock Monsters

Walking Through Time Activity: The Age of the Earth

Walking Through Time Activity: The Age of the Earth

By studying rocks, scientists have figured out how long the Earth has been around. And the answer is: a long, long time.

The earth is four billion, five hundred and forty million years old, and in that time, it’s been through a lot of changes. By contrast, people have only been around for two or three million years, a tiny portion of the Earth’s vast history.

Numbers this big are hard to imagine. So here’s an activity that will help.

You need:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • A long sidewalk (You’ll need about 760 feet, so probably two city blocks. Do it in a park if you can, so that you don’t have to cross the street.)
  • A grownup helper, if you do need to cross the street (You can also make this an indoor activity by drawing with a pencil on a ten-foot-long strip of paper. Instead of “pace,” substitute “centimetre”.)
Walking Through Time Activity: The Age of the Earth

In this activity, you will take a walk through time. You’ll see just how old the Earth is, and all the things that have happened over those many years. Every step you take will represent fifteen million years. Fifteen million years is already an unimaginably long time, but as you’ll see, it’s nothing compared to the age of the Earth.

At one end of the sidewalk, use the sidewalk chalk to make a mark on the pavement. This represents the beginning of the Earth’s history, 4.54 billion years ago, when the Earth formed out of clouds of gas and dust. The early Earth was very different from the way it is today. It was incredibly hot, there were no oceans, the air was poisonous, and there was no life.

Starting at this mark, walk seven paces along the sidewalk. Sometime around here, another planet crashed into the Earth, kicking up debris that eventually combined to form the moon.

Walk another three paces. Now the Earth’s surface has cooled down enough that water in the atmosphere turns to liquid and falls as rain. It rains for hundreds of years, forming the oceans.

Walk another twenty paces. This marks the beginning of a long period of asteroids (space rocks) hitting the Earth.

Walk another twenty paces. The long period of asteroid impacts has now ended.

Walk another twenty paces. This is the earliest point in time that everyone agrees there was life on earth. At this time, life only lives in the ocean. These early living things are far too small to see, and they’re made of simple cells, like bacteria are today. But we know they were there, because their growth caused tiny pieces of rock to form into big layered mounds called stromatolites.

Now for the longest walk yet: Walk another seventy paces. One group of living things, the cyanobacteria, has figured out how to get energy from the sun (like plants do today). But this process has a side effect: it produces a large amount of oxygen (the gas that we breathe). This is a huge change in the makeup of Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s the first time that living things had such a dramatic effect on the planet.

Walk another three paces. All that extra oxygen has now caused an extremely long ice age to begin: in fact, it’s possible that the entire Earth becomes covered in ice during this period.

Walk another twenty paces. The ice age has now ended.

Walk another twenty paces. Sometime around here, the first complex cells appear – the kind that plants and animals are made of.

Walk another sixteen paces. Sometime around here, these complex cells group together to form multicellular organisms – living things made of more than one cell. Notice that all life was single-celled for a long, long time. Even today, single-celled life is much more diverse than multicellular life. We just notice multicellular life more because it’s bigger – and because it includes us!

Walk another twenty-four paces. Up until this point, living things have made babies by making copies of themselves. But now, some living things have figured out how to make babies by combining their genes with each other. This is what people do: you’re not an exact copy of your mom or your dad; you’re a combination of the two. This is called sexual reproduction, and it makes evolution move faster.

Walk another forty paces. The earliest fossils of animals are from this time – a type of sea creature called sponges. And from this point on, things get action-packed.

Walk another four paces. Now an event occurs called the Cambrian explosion, in which many major groups of invertebrates (animals without backbones) appear at about the same time. These include members of the clam family, the insect family, and the starfish family. A bunch of really weird creatures appear around this time too, like Opabinia, which had five eyes and a long trunk with a claw on the end! (You can use the sidewalk chalk to draw pictures of some of these creatures if you like.)

Walk one more pace. Now the first backboned animals appear: fish without jaws. The first members of a group of insect-like sea creatures called trilobites appear as well. All animals and plants still live only in the oceans; there is no life on land.

Walk another four paces. Now the first land plants begin to appear. At first, they’re all small, like mosses.

Walk another two paces. Now some invertebrates have followed the plants onto land, to eat them. In the sea, the first jawed fish appear.

Walk another two paces. The first true insects and the first sharks appear, and so do a group of squid-like creatures with spiral shells called ammonites.

Walk another two paces. Now some backboned animals have followed the invertebrates onto land, to eat them. They would have looked like big salamanders.

Walk one more pace. Some plants have now evolved to grow from seeds, which have a protective covering.

Walk two more paces. At this point, all the world’s continents have fused together into a single supercontinent, called Pangaea.

Walk one more pace. This is the time of huge forests of trees, teeming with giant millipedes and dragonflies. When these trees fossilized, they became coal, which we still use for energy today. At the same time, the ancestors of reptiles and mammals developed eggs that could be laid on land, so that they no longer had to return to the water like frogs do.

Walk two more paces. This is the time of creatures like Dimetrodon, which looked like a big lizard with a giant sail on its back like a ruffled potato chip. Dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur, but it’s actually more closely related to you and me! Besides, dinosaurs hadn’t appeared yet.

Walk two more paces. This is the time of the biggest mass extinction in the history of the Earth, which was caused by volcanoes. Lots of groups of animals died out, including the trilobites.

Walk two more paces. The world has recovered from the extinction event, and the first dinosaurs appear.

Walk one more pace. Now the first mammals appear: animals with fur who feed their babies with milk. You’re a mammal!

Walk two more paces. The supercontinent Pangaea is starting to break up.

Walk one more pace. This is the time of giant long-necked dinosaurs, like Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus. At the same time, a group of small feathered dinosaurs learns how to fly. Today, we call them birds.

Walk two more paces. The first flowers appear.

Walk four more paces. The dinosaurs have continued to dominate through all this time. Now it’s the time of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.

But walk one more pace and everything has changed. A giant rock has fallen out of the sky, causing another major extinction. All dinosaurs except birds have died, and so have a lot of other creatures, including ammonites. Now that the big dinosaurs are out of the way, mammals are diversifying like never before. And now that ammonites are out of the way, bony fish are diversifying like never before.

Walk one more pace. India has crashed into Asia (I say “crashed”, but it was far too slow to see), pushing up the Himalayan mountains, the tallest mountains on Earth.

Walk one more pace. The climate has gotten cooler and drier. Forests are giving way to grasslands, where herds of hoofed mammals roam.

Walk two more paces, and that takes you to now. (Make a mark with the sidewalk chalk.) So much happened in that last step you took! The first people appeared. The Earth went through another ice age. People learned how to use fire, and spread all over the world, and invented writing and the wheel and the electric nose hair trimmer. In the grand scheme of things, we only just got here. And yet, we’ve already had an enormous influence on the Earth.

Look back. Can you still see the mark you made back at the beginning of the Earth? This is the biggest lesson the rocks have to teach us: The Earth is really, really old, and people have only been around for a tiny part of its history.

Walking Through Time Activity: The Age of the Earth

Spreading Joy #6 – Kindness Rocks

Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks

Can you imagine just for one moment, if instead of all those apocalyptic films of humanity trying to survive a zombie contagion, that instead the future held a worldwide kindness contagion? Kindness and love spreading over the Earth in a beautiful ripple effect.

Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks

Think back to a time when you were feeling low, down in the dumps and generally struggling to rise out of it. Then out of the blue, a complete stranger does something or says something so kind that it literally blows away your cobwebs. It takes you completely by surprise and snaps you out of the all consuming storm clouds that were revolving around your head. Suddenly you can feel your mood lifting as you walk away wondering how lovely and unexpected of that person to bestow this random act of kindness. That feeling, right then? Bottle it. Bottle it and then open that feeling up again and give it away to someone else. Imagine if everyone released that feeling to the next person. Think about a bottle of perfume. That beautiful scent was not made to simply sit in that glass container just to be looked at. That scent was meant to be worn and inhaled by other people as you walk past. That lingering scent left clinging to the air once you have left, leaving a trail in its wake. This bottled kindness contagion could spread like wildfire and soon everyone will have experienced an act of kindness from someone they don’t know.

The Kindness Rocks Project was created by Megan Murphy, a life coach from Massachusetts. The premise is simple, to spread kindness to others by painting rocks with encouraging words on them, words of affirmation, words of life and love and leaving them for people to find. Anyone can take part and getting your children involved is a wonderful way to teach about random acts of kindness. This movement has captured the hearts and minds of thousands not only in America but the whole world.

Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks

Children learn by watching and then repeating what they see themselves. Ever heard your child repeating something you’ve said or say regularly in their role playing? They are making sense of the world around them. So these Kindness Rocks are a great way to teach them to start to think beyond themselves. Children for the most part will naturally focus on their immediate loved ones, family and friends. This act begins to encourage them to think beyond themselves to those outside their circle and the impact it can have on others to be kind. These rocks illustrate the power of words and how they can affect those around us. So join with us and create your very own Kindness Rocks to give away. Who knows, you may even find that it becomes a monthly family activity!

Some examples of what to use to decorate your rocks:

  • Paint
  • Paint pens
  • Permanent markers
  • Glitter
  • Nail varnish and water
  • Black paint and metallic pens

All should be sealed with clear varnish spray of a Mod Podge glue to make sure they’ll last in all weathers.

Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks

Making Kindness Rocks like ours

What you will need:

  • Smooth rocks big enough to write on
  • Paint (or any other material you wish to decorate them with)
  • Paintbrush
  • Sharpie black pen (any other permanent marker will do)
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Positive words!
Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks

Have a discussion with your children before you start or while you are collecting your stones about kindness and ask some open ended questions such as:

  • What does kindness mean?
  • Can you give a few examples of being kind?
  • How does it feel to receive kindness?
  • Does that feeling make you want to be kind to someone else?
  • Do you think if someone was feeling sad, saying something kind could make them feel a little better and make their day not so sad?


  1. Have a discussion about kindness with your children. Use the above questions to guide the conversation.
  2. Together think about some nice things to write on the stones.
  3. Go out and find some rocks together. They need to be big enough to write on them and with at least one smooth surface for the writing.
  4. Clean them and dry them.
  5. Paint them and let them dry.
  6. Spreading Joy #6 - Kindness Rocks
  7. Write on them.
  8. Put them in a bag or basket and disperse them around your neighbourhood for people to find.

As always we want to see your creations, so tag us in your social media!

Make Your Own Wind Chime

Make Your Own Wind Chime

Combining learning with craft is a wonderful way of integrating creativity and subjects like science. Wind can be difficult to explain to a child without any visual aids. Children learn by seeing and doing, so teaching them with the accompaniment of an easy craft is an excellent tool to help make sense of a new topic. There are many simple, inexpensive crafts you can do with your children when explaining wind to them. Today we will be making your own Wind Chime to hang. It can be hung anywhere that comes into contact with the air. That could be on a porch, backyard, front garden, balcony, window, you name it! But before we start, let us talk a little about wind with some facts.

Make Your Own Wind Chime

15 Facts About Wind:

  1. Wind is air that is moving.
  2. We cannot see the wind itself, but we can see objects being moved by the wind, like branches on a tree.
  3. Wind occurs when air moves from a place of high pressure to a place of low pressure.
  4. Hot air rises and cold air sinks.
  5. Wind can be both hot or cold.
  6. There are different words to describe how fast or slow the wind is blowing. It can be as little and soft as a ‘breeze’ or as fast and dangerous as a ‘hurricane’!
  7. Wind is energy and can be harnessed to create electricity. Wind turbines are one way of making energy from it. The movement of air moves the propellers and this movement creates energy which creates electricity.
  8. Windmills have been used since 2000 BC! They were first created in China and Persia (now Iran).
  9. A small wind turbine has the potential to power a whole home’s electricity.
  10. Boats with sails use the wind to steer their ships to help propel them forward. This is another way you can ‘harness’ wind to create energy.
  11. There is a place around the Equator called ‘the doldrums’. This spot of the sea often doesn’t get any wind. In the past, ships with only sails would get stuck there for weeks at a time. This is where the saying, ‘stuck in the doldrums’’ comes from.
  12. In Greek mythology there were the Anemoi, four gods of the wind. They were children of the Keeper of the Wind, Aeolus and Eos, Titan goddess of the Dawn. Their names are Boreas (North wind), Notus (South wind), Zephyrus (West wind) and Eurus (East wind).
  13. The instrument to measure wind is called an ‘anemometer’, taken from the ‘Anemoi’ greek wind gods (shown above).
  14. Wind reports always tell you where the wind is coming from and not going too. If it says the wind is, ‘coming from the North’ then it is going to the South.
  15. Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) was an Irish hydrographer and officer and British Admiral in the Royal Navy. He was the first to create a wind scale to measure wind force at sea, created in 1805. The wind has a scale from 0-12/17 and the wind speed can be measured in ‘knots’, ‘kilometres per hour’ (kph) or ‘miles per hour’ (mph).

Making your own Wind Chime

What you will need:

  • Scissors (normal or patterned ones)
  • Paper plates / card
  • String (we used transparent and normal)
  • Paint/crayons/pens/stickers for decorating your plates
  • Bells
  • Hole punch / sharp pencil
  • Glitter and glue (optional!)
Make Your Own Wind Chime Make Your Own Wind Chime


  1. First your child needs to decorate their paper plates or card and allow to dry. We used paint but any other decorating material can be used.
  2. When dry, draw a large spiral on them, starting in the middle. It will look a little like a curled up snake. The middle looking a little like a snake head.
  3. If your child can use scissors, allow them to follow the line to cut the spiral out. Be on hand to help them if they need it, as the middle part can be tricky.
  4. If they would like to go further with the decorations, for example add stickers or glitter, now is the time to do so.
  5. At the top of the spiral with a hole punch or sharp pencil make a hole. This is where your string will be tied and where you will tie your string to allow it to hang.
  6. Cut some string long enough that it will hang below the bottom part of your spiral. At the bottom end tie a bell on to it. At the top of the spiral, where the hole is, tie the other end of the string. The string and bell should hang inside your paper spiral.
  7. Add as many or as few strings with bells. The more bells you add the more it will ‘chime’ in the wind.
  8. Now tie another string to the top hole and hang it on a tree, or your porch or on a balcony.
  9. Watch how a breeze or gust of wind, spins it round and round.
  10. After 24 hours you will see that the spiral has lengthened and stretched. You will have a much longer spiral wind chime and the bell will be half way down the spiral and not at the bottom!
Make Your Own Wind Chime

Questions to ask and discussions to have with your children afterwards

  • When it is windy, what do you think will happen to your spiral?
  • If there isn’t any wind, what will happen to your wind chime?
  • If there is no wind, will there be any noise coming from it? And if there is wind?
  • Does your spiral wind chime remind you of the motion of a tornado? If they don’t know what a tornado is, show them a few pictures of videos of it and talk about the similarities.
  • What do you think we will see tomorrow when we look at the wind chimes? Note down their answers and the next day go have a look and see if they were correct. You should find your wind chime has lengthened and the bell will now be half way up the spiral. This means the bell will chime more as it bumps against the spiral in the wind. Below is a photo of our spirals after a day of hanging. Notice how they are much more stretched out?
Make Your Own Wind Chime

Enjoy harnessing the power of wind with your colourful creations! For more fun activities and learning with wind, watch the Caitie’s Classroom episode all about wind!

Blow Paint Monsters

Blow Paint Monsters

These blow paint monsters are not so scary. Instead they are super fun! You never know what kind of creature you’ll end up with! By using different coloured paints, and using a straw to blow the paint around instead of a paint brush, you get something new and interesting every time. Use your imagination and get creative adding eyes, and extra features to your monster. We would love to see what you come up with! Share your monster creations on social media and be sure to tag @SuperSimpleCaitie or use the hashtag #SuperSimpleOfficial. Check out the blow paint monsters Caitie made with our friends in the classroom, during our episode all about wind!

Blow Paint Monsters - Supplies

Things you’ll need

  • Thick paper or a small canvas
  • Craft paint
  • Straws

To decorate:

  • Googly eyes
  • Small piece of black and white paper (for the monster’s mouth)
  • Pom poms, stickers
  • Coloured markers


  • Dilute your craft paint with a bit of water until it flows nicely. When your paint mixture is ready place dollops of paint onto your paper or canvas.
  • With a straw, blow the paint into every direction by turning your paper while you blow. You can experiment with different sizes straws for different effects.
  • Blow Paint Monsters
  • Leave your paint to dry overnight.
  • Blow Paint Monsters
  • Once dried, decorate your monster! Glue the eyes, cut out a mouth shape with black paper, and add white teeth. You could also draw legs and arms to decorate however you like.
  • Blow Paint Monsters
  • Once finished you could also cut out your monsters and glue them all together onto a large piece of paper to display your monsters creations all together!
Blow Paint Monsters

Blueberry Muffins Recipe from The Muffin Man!

Blueberry Muffins Recipe from The Muffin Man

Hi Everyone! It’s The Muffin Man, here! I love blueberry muffins! Try making these simple and delicious blueberry muffins, and then eat them while watching me on The Muffin Man episode of Sing Along With Tobee. I can’t think of anything better…. Yum!

Blueberry Muffins Recipe from The Muffin Man


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cup blueberries (If frozen, do not thaw before using)


  • Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with 12 paper liners or non-stick spray.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
  • In a larger bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, sour cream, lemon zest and egg until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake at 375◦ for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden and toothpick inserted into centre of muffins comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes. Finish cooling on rack.

I hope you enjoy these yummy blueberry muffins! See you around on Drury Lane!

Blueberry Muffins Recipe from The Muffin Man

Healthy Habits for Warm Weather

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung! Or almost, at least! When I think of Spring and Summer time I think of being outside, swimming, enjoying the sunshine and when it comes to food – I think of cooling, delicious, healthy foods that work well for ourselves and our children’s bodies.

When we eat foods that are local and in season, our bodies can digest them much easier because they are what is natural in our environment around us at that given time. When we start eating according to our environment around us, we produce the enzymes necessary to break these foods down properly. Our body wants to be in homeostasis – a state of balance – so when we give it the opportunity to do this it will thank us!

In Spring and Summer, our bodies crave cooling foods that will help produce an alkaline internal environment. Hot, fiery, warming foods are for fall and winter, and can actually produce an acidic environment for our guts during the summer months

Here is a list of foods that you will start seeing pop up at your local farmer’s markets and health food stores this Spring/Summer season. Some foods are in season in almost year round, like honey!

Healthy Habits for Warm Weather


  • Rhubarb
  • Asparagus


  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Cherries
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Asparagus


  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Potatoes
  • Plums
  • Peppers
  • Peas
  • Peaches
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Melon
  • Lettuce
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Watermelon


  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Potatoes
  • Plums
  • Peppers
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Nectarines
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Apples
Healthy Habits for Warm Weather

Watermelon Salad Summer Recipe

1 watermelon, chopped into cubes
1 red onion, small slices
1 cup feta cheese
1 cup nectarines, optional
2 cups arugula
Dressing: 1 cup balsamic with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp dijon mustard

Mix ingredients together and enjoy a refreshing, delicious salad with flavour!

Delicious Warm Weather Snack and Meal Ideas:

  • Fruit salad bowl: mix a variety of in season fruits together
  • Zucchini and cucumber chips
  • Apple with honey or peanut butter
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Pea soup
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus
  • Broccoli and cauliflower salad or casserole
  • Caprese salad
  • Eggplant pasta
  • Pears in a bowl with cinnamon

I hope that you and your family enjoy the beautiful warm weather that is to come!

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

Families come in all different sizes, and each one is unique. This craft using cardboard tubes can be customized to be like your family, or you can use your imagination and make an entirely different family! No matter what your cardboard tube family looks like, make sure to make it with lots of love.

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

What you’ll need:

  • cardboard tubes
  • scissors
  • yarn for hair
  • craft paint
  • paint brush
  • construction paper or patterned paper
  • googly eyes
  • glue stick
  • black marker
  • small buttons
Cardboard Tube Family Craft - Materials


With scissors, trim the cardboard tubes into different sizes – longer for the adults and shorter for the children.

Paint the skin tone of your family on 1/3 of the tubes, and let it dry.

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

For the shirt, line up a strip of coloured or patterned paper to the tube, and trim to size. With a glue stick, wrap and glue the paper into place. You could also use craft paint for the shirt instead of paper, and paint on the tube.

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

Decorate the shirt by glueing buttons, ribbon, beads or stickers.

Glue the eyes in place, and draw a nose and mouth with a black marker.

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

For the hair, wrap yarn around your hand. Cut a small length and tie the bundle together at the centre. Trim folded ends or leave folded for a curly hair look. Glue a few strands to the tube to hold into place.

Cardboard Tube Family Craft

You can make the cardboard tubes to look like your family, or you can create a whole new family to play with!

Cardboard Tube Family Craft Cardboard Tube Family Craft Cardboard Tube Family Craft

The Family Tree – Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!

The Family Tree - Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!

Family. Ancestry. Genealogy. Descendants. Generations. Relationships. These are all words that one will come across when tracing back their relations to create a family tree. A family tree is a diagram (that can look a little like a tree), that shows all of a families relatives through several generations from the present, backwards. This study of information is your genealogy.

The sad fact of life is that all too often our interest in our heritage only surfaces the older we become. When those in our family who can tell us, are either long gone or are fading with age and whose memories are slipping. How many of us can honestly hold our hands up now and say they wished they had sat down with their older relatives and bombarded them with questions about life when they were young, about their own grandparents. This post is here to encourage you to take action now and explore your ancestry but doing so with your children.

Why is making a family tree with your children important?

In 2010 Emory University undertook a study asking children questions about their families’ history. They found that, ‘family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world.’

It creates connection:

  • Children often can’t see past themselves and the little world that revolves around their day to day lives. This is natural. By creating a family tree it can help them see where they fit in the world, where they come from and their roots. They will learn about people they may not have realised existed.
  • They may learn they have similar personalities and characteristics with some of their relatives (something that as parents we probably will have seen already).
  • They learn who they are, where they have come from and their connection to the world. Have their relatives immigrated from somewhere else in the world? Where? Show them, pull the map out. Is this the reason some of us call our grandparents different names than our friends?
  • It makes history interesting. Many of us may have had to endure history lessons that held no excitement for us at the time. Given by (with deepest respect) but if we are honest, dusty historians that perhaps shouldn’t be teaching anymore. Children need connection and subjects like history to be hands on. Getting out of the classroom and seeing with their own eyes the history they are learning. Family trees do just this. It will involve them asking questions, talking to relatives, asking about things in their childhood. Don’t just stop at the basics, get them delving deeper.
  • Conversations with their relatives give way to family bonding and not just for your children. It’s about bringing family and blood together.

Things they will learn:

  • About how to do research – being a detective! Get out a microscope and Sherlock Holmes hat and get into character!
  • If they ask the right questions they may learn about major points of history, through the eyes of some of their relatives.
  • Basic biology and genetics – who looked the same when they were a child. Who has the same hair colour and eyes? If there is genetic illness in the family one could broach this if your children are of an older age.
  • Lessons learnt – not all of our family trees may be happy ones. If yours is one of those, try not to shy away from these parts. Instead use them as tools to teach why they are lessons to do better.
  • Some of us may have some relatives that did some really cool stuff in their lives. Enjoy exploring these things. Do your relatives have any memorabilia or such that would help in researching and learning about those achievements? Your children may be excited if they discover they have the same interests as some of their relatives or may suddenly be inspired by them and decide there and then what they want to do with their lives. Who knows!?
The Family Tree - Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!

Some useful Family Tree language and symbol explanations:
Vertical lines ( I ): relationships between parents and their children
Horizontal lines ( – ): linking all the siblings to their parents
Equal sign (=): married
b. : born
d. : died
m. : married
[1] [2]: 1st/2nd marriages and so on

Related through blood:
sibling: your brother or sister
uncle: brother of mother or father
aunt: sister of mother or father
cousin: son/daughter of your aunt/ uncle
second cousin: son/daughter of either parents first cousins
nephew: son of your brother/sister
niece: daughter of your brother/sister
grandfather: father of your mother/father
grandmother: mother of your mother/father
great-grandfather: the father of your grandparents
great-grandmother: the mother of your grandparents
grandchildren: children’s children
great-grandchildren: children of your children’ children
great uncle: uncle of one of your parents
great aunt: aunt of one of your parents

Related through marriage:
father-in-law: father of your spouse
mother-in-law: mother of your spouse
half sister/brother: child from a remarriage of one of your parents
step sister/brother: child from previous marriage of step parent
step daughter: child of spouse from previous marriage

One generation is:
all your siblings and cousins (which should be vaguely on the same line). This is one generation. The next would be all your parents and aunts, uncles and so forth.

The addition of ‘great-’ is:
a way of describing a generation further back then your own grandparents. Every further generation you add one great. So if you are talking about three generations before your own grandparents you would say, ‘great-great-great’.

Making Your Own Family Tree!

The main thing is not to complicate it. Keep the craft side of it simple, the importance is the topic.

The Family Tree - Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!

We made a small family tree up to the children’s Great-Grandparents. On a large sheet of paper we made a tree out of brown tissue paper. Then with green ink our immediate family members, Mummy, Daddy and children made the leaves with their fingerprints. We talked about family relationships and words like, ‘siblings’ and ‘aunts and uncles’ and who theirs were. We began to write out those names on small pieces of white paper and placing them where they should be on the tree – starting with the children’s names at the bottom of the tree trunk.
Once you are satisfied there is enough space and everything is laid out you can start sticking them down and then drawing the appropriate linking up lines.

The Family Tree - Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!

In planning this activity we had contacted our family to see if they could send pictures of themselves in their childhood and teenage years. This way when we talked about those people and those they never met, we could show them pictures when they were young and at various ages. This was a really fun addition to the activity as it added another visual aid, but also created moments of reminiscent stories and conversations between our own adult siblings about long lost images and what they meant to us.

Another aspect of our conversations touched on immigration, language and culture. Why some of their grandparents names sound different, for example, ‘Taita and Jidou’ (Lebanese equivalents) to their other side of grandparents and why the other side of grandparents have descriptive words after like, ‘Great-grandma Moo’ or ‘Great-grandma seaside’. All of these questions and answers all slowly build a picture for them over time and slowly they will begin to form an image of what their family looks like and where their roots reach to and come from.

So get together and start this extremely rewarding family detective project. It is one that will just keep giving and one you all will cherish forever.

The Family Tree - Tips & Reasons to Make Your Own!