Maegan Kasteler | Oct 26, 2018

Family History Is for Everyone: Teens and Young Adults

This is the second blog in a series of 4 blog posts designed to help you find fun ways for those of all ages to get involved in family history. Read the first blog post here.

How do you get the teens and young adults interested in family history? Teens seem to only be concerned with what is happening on their screens, so how do you get them interested in what happened before their screen was even invented?

This will surely be a question that will haunt parents throughout the coming generations, but here are our favorite teen- and young-adult-friendly ideas to spark their interest in family history.

Create a Family Tree Scrapbook

A little more involved than our idea for kids of just creating a tree, help your teens create a scrapbook of their family tree. You can include pictures, stories, and memories of living and deceased family members. Let your teens use their creativity to curate and design something that matches their style.

Once completed this scrapbook will become a priceless memento your teens can continue to add to and pass down through the generations. The scrapbook also becomes a great way to organize and preserve your collections of photographs and stories.

Make a Personal Time Line

The time line created by our social media footprint is great, but it also contains a superfluous amount of extra cat videos and overly dramatic status written in the third person. You can create your own personal time line, in whatever format you desire, and customize it to contain those things which your teen deems important.

Set a few parameters and help teens find dates of important life events, and then let their creativity run wild. As always, if they choose to make their time line digital, make sure you save the final product for the future—and have a backup! As an added bonus, this digital time line can be included in your family tree scrapbook.

You can try using Twile, a free online resource that was recognized in 2016 at RootsTech as a finalist in the Innovator Showdown.

Make a Time Capsule

Family history is not just about the past—it is also about the future. Work together to create a capsule showing what is happening in your lives right now. Set a date, and seal the container! Try making your capsule in a large can with a lid (such as a paint can), a nice box, an empty 2-liter bottle, or anything else you may find. You can include photographs, movie tickets, old phones, and anything you think someone in the future might be interested in.

You can also make a time capsule for yourself to open at a later date. You can then include letters to yourself, reminders of your dreams and aspirations, a favorite possession, or audio or video recordings of yourself. Label your container clearly, and find a good place to store it. If you decide to bury the time capsule, don't forget to clearly mark where you bury it, so you can find it later!

Learn to Make an Old Family Recipe

Does your family have a recipe that has been passed down through the generations? Learn to make it! If you don’t have an old family recipe, you can research traditional recipes native to where your progenitors lived and try one of those.

Encourage your teens to continue developing skills that don’t happen in front of a screen, and cook with them! Use the time to discuss life, family, relationships, school, and whatever else you might want to talk to your teen or young adult about.



Can’t get teens to stop looking at their screen? Turn it into productive time, and teach them how to index on! This free site allows users to help further the family history work of others. Having your teens become indexing experts will help them better understand the importance of keeping records, history, penmanship, and patience.

You can also make indexing a fun activity for the whole family as you sit down and learn together and help each other.

Do you have other ideas for making family history fun for teens and young adults? Share your ideas with us on Twitter.

Maegan Kasteler

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