In this challenging time, many parents and guardians are looking online for meaningful activities for their children that don’t require too much prep or too many materials. Each weekday on this blog, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will post an activity geared to a range of ages that guide children how to explore heritage, history, and learning through artifacts.
Connection is especially important during this time of physical isolation. This time provides an opportunity for children to interview parents, grandparents, or other adults in their lives, either in person or over the phone.
You can help your child by talking about some of the family heirlooms and old photographs that you and your relatives have. Explain to your child why these heirlooms are important to you.
This will provide you with a fascinating opportunity to talk with your child about your family. We strongly encourage you to include other, older relatives in the discussion when possible. Grandparents and great-aunts and uncles are often treasure troves of stories that might otherwise get lost. Once they begin talking, you may want to record some of their words for future generations.
Help your child pick one special object for research. This doesn’t have to be the most valuable heirloom you have. Artifacts passed down from generation to generation help us to tell the story of our heritage, which we define in the widest possible sense. Some heirlooms will tell about religious life; others will tell about the immigrant experience, the wars of the twentieth century, lifecycle events, and so much more. They will tell the story not only of your family, but also a community.
Once you have picked the family object, help your child research it. What questions would you ask? Where would your child find the best answers? Who is the best person to interview?
Once you select the artifact, your child may use the following questions as a guideline for their family history interview:
- What is your full name?
- When and where were you born?
- Did you ever have a different family name?
- When and where was this artifact made?
- Do you know who made it?
- How did you get it?
- What is the significance of this artifact to you?
- What can you tell me about your background that connects to this artifact?
- What is the historical significance of this artifact?
- What is the artifact made of?
- What can you tell me about the time period in which this artifact was made, used, or given to you?
- Is there a photo of you from the time period associated with the artifact?
- Is there anything else that you can think of to add to the understanding of the significance of the artifact? A story? An anecdote? Etc.
Next time, we will explore how to use this family interview to create an artifact label for your family artifact.
We encourage you to share your child’s work with us! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can feature it on our Museum blog!