Inside: Here are 3 fun ancestor games to help your kids and grandkids learn about their ancestors in memorable ways. Each game is geared toward creating fun while learning about these people from the past!
Fun & Memorable Ancestor Games to Help You Get to Know Your Ancestors!
The great Greek philosopher, Plato, said, “Children learn by games, compulsory education cannot remain in the soul.”
In a nutshell, he’s saying, “kids don’t learn from “drill and kill,” but rather when engaging in something fun, interesting, and challenging…
Here are three interactive ancestor games I created to help my kids and grandkids get to know their ancestors by having some good ole fashion fun!
Let the fun begin!
Ancestor Games: Let’s Play “Old Ancestor”
You’ve probably played the game “Old Maid” before. This ancestor game is almost the same—but twice the fun!
I changed the game a bit. In the original “Old Maid” card game, the person ending up with the Old Maid—loses. In my “Old Ancestor” game—the person ending up with the ancestor WINS!
Here’s how to make the cards
- Create at least 80-100 cards. You will need pictures of between 40 and 50 ancestors. Make 2 cards of each ancestor (just like in the original game).
- Download my FREE Old Maid ancestor cards here. There are 8 cards to a page and you will need to make 10 copies (a total of 80 cards) on cardstock paper
- Cut out the cards (a paper cutter works great)
- Glue a picture of ONE ancestor on TWO separate cards—making a total of 80 cards with 40 different ancestors. If you want more cards, you can easily make them but make certain you have an EVEN number of cards
- Laminate your cards and trim
Here’s how to play the game
- Choose one of the ancestors to be the “Old Ancestor.” You can change who this ancestor is going to be each time you play—just make certain everyone who is playing knows who the “Old Ancestor” is for each game.
- Shuffle the deck of cards and give each person a card until you have given out all the cards.
- Each person is to match any duplicate cards and put them on the side
- Taking turns, each person picks a card from the person on their right. If they have a match to that card, they are to take both cards and put them on the side.
- If a person gets the designated “Old Ancestor” card—they may want to strategize to keep the card.
- After everyone has exhausted all their cards, the person with the “Old Ancestor” card WINS the game!
At the end of the game, talk about your chosen “Old Ancestor.” Give information to help everyone learn interesting facts about the person such as:
- Birth and death dates
- Where they were born
- Marriage and family
- Interesting stories you have of that person
You can also talk about other ancestors in the deck.
There is something addicting about this game—so play this ancestor game over and over and see if everyone can have a turn ending up with the “Old Ancestor” and winning the game!
Ancestor Games: Creating Colorful Ancestor Puzzles
This ancestor game is fun to create and will give your children/grandchildren hours of fun!
You are making puzzles of your ancestors but it’s not about just putting puzzles together—you want to create some fun competition.
Here’s how to make the puzzles
- Use a word.doc and copy and paste a picture of one of your ancestors on the 8.5×11” piece of paper. Size the picture so it takes up about 2/3 of the page.
- Print each ancestor’s name on the page underneath their picture
- Across the bottom of the page, put 4-5 pictures of clipart that represents some of that particular ancestors’ hobbies, interests, or talents. Include a caption such as: “farmer,” “seamstress,” “musician,” “carpenter,” etc.
- Print off on cardstock paper
- Make horizontal, vertical, or diagonal cuts about 1.5” to 2” apart on each ancestor page
- Put a number on the back of each puzzle. For instance, all the puzzle pieces for ancestor #1 have the same number—starting with #1. The next ancestor puzzle –each piece as the same #2 and so on. This is so you don’t get them mixed up.
- Laminate all the pieces and trim. You’re ready to play!
Here’s how to play the ancestor puzzle game
- Take all the puzzle pieces and put them in the center of a table. Mix them up
- When you say, “Go” everyone takes some of the pieces and starts to put the puzzles together (that’s why you need numbers on the back).
- The goal is to put together as many ancestor puzzles as possible to win the game. Once all the puzzle pieces are gone and the puzzles are put together, find out who made the most puzzles to win the game!
Afterward, get to know your ancestors better by talking about some of the hobbies, interests, and talents of each person.
This game can be played by children ages 3 and up (we played it with two of our 2-year-old grandchildren and they had fun with it, too).
“Mix-it & Match-It Ancestor Game”
This game is a great way to get to know your ancestors by learning about their hobbies, interests, and talents. The ancestor puzzles help with this, but this game drives it home!
Again, pick out about 40-50 pictures of your ancestors. Make certain you have information about their hobbies, interests, and talents that can be represented by clipart. We use both living family members and ancestors (smaller children will enjoy seeing people they know). On the back of each ancestor card–make a list of any information you have on that ancestor. Teen kids and grandkids will enjoy reading about all these ancestors at a glance!
How to make the game
- Using a word.doc, download a picture of an ancestor or family member and center it on an 8.5 x 11″ page. Leave room on all sides to put small clipart pictures.
- Print out on 8.5 x 11” cardstock paper
- On the back of each mounted picture, type a history of each ancestor.
- Download clipart (between 2-3” square or rectangle) to represent each ancestor’s talents, interests, and hobbies. It’s nice to have at least 5 per ancestor. Try pixabay.com and google to find free clipart.
- Print out the clipart on cardstock paper. You should be able to put several pieces of clipart on a page.
- Mount the clipart on another piece of cardstock to make them sturdy.
- On the back of each clipart piece, put the name of the ancestor that it “belongs” to.
- Laminate the pictures and the clipart. Trim
- Surrounding the ancestor picture, attach dots of Velcro at different intervals. The amount of Velcro dots will be determined by how many interests, hobbies, and talents you found for each ancestor that the clipart represents.
How to play the game
- Each person chooses 3 ancestors with 8.5 x 11” game cards.
- Put all the clipart pieces in the middle of the table.
- Taking turns, each person picks a piece of clipart from the pile. If they have a match—they attach the clipart to one of the Velcro pieces on their ancestor picture
- Every 5 minutes is a “free-for-all” meaning that everyone can exchange clipart with other players that have clipart to match one another’s ancestors.
- The reason you use Velcro—is that will help each player know how many pieces of clipart he/she needs to find for each ancestor.
- Continue the game until one person has matched all his/her clipart to their ancestor sheets and wins the game!
- Another way to play is to put all the clipart pieces in the middle and when you say, “Go” everyone starts looking for the clipart belonging to their ancestor cards. The first person to get all the clipart on their ancestor cards wins.
Ancestor Games Need Prizes!
One last thing—you need prizes! I get vintage candy from the 50s & 60s and explain to my grandkids how I used to buy candy bars and gum for 5 cents each (times they have changed)! You can order candy from bygone eras on Amazon or if you live close to a Cracker Barrel restaurant—they are famous for stocking good ole fashioned candy from the past. Also, check out Dollar Stores—I’ve found candy from the 50s & 60s there, too.
Here are some suggestions:
- Look candy bars
- Big Hunk candy bars
- Tootsie Rolls
- Juicy Fruit, Black Jack, Beeman’s, and Clove gum
- Sugar Babies
- Red Vines
- Dubble Bubble Gum (this is fun to use to have a bubble-blowing gum contest)
- Reeds Butterscotch and Root Beer lifesavers
- And any other favorite candy you ate as a kid.
What ancestor games have you played to get to know your ancestors better? Please share and comment in the section below.
Here are some more blogs that give you ideas on how to introduce your children and grandchildren to their ancestors in interesting and fun ways: