Yup--annoying siblings go on the family tree, too!

How to Make a Creative Family Tree

by Rosenya Faith

If your little guy gets confused easily trying to keep track of great aunt Jane and just why he's supposed to be nice to his second cousin James, you can help to straighten out the who's-who of your family with a creative family tree. It's time to don your family historian cap and introduce your youngster to all the names and faces of the family members that have come before him. You could present him with a boring hand-drawn rendition of his family tree, but why not show him just how creative moms can be?

Real Leaf Family Tree

Start with a neighborhood adventure with your little munchkin and collect leaves along the way.

Preserve the leaves while your little guy naps or is busy with playtime. Fold a piece of wax paper in half and slide one leaf inside. Place a towel on top of the wax paper-covered leaf and iron on a low setting. Keep ironing, moving constantly for about 30 seconds. Remove the towel and let the leaf cool while you move on to the next one.

Peel the wax paper away from the leaf gently. Flip it over, place the towel on top and iron again to ensure both sides of the leaf are sealed. Let the leaf cool and peel away the wax paper.

Cut out small pictures of family members. Get your little munchkin to spread some glue on the back of one of the pictures and press it firmly onto one side of a leaf. Let the glue dry and continue adding a single picture to each leaf. If you do not have a picture for one member, write the name across the leaf instead.

Cut out a large rectangle from the 1/4-inch sheet of plywood using a handsaw or jigsaw while wearing the proper safety gear. Make the board large enough to incorporate all of the leaves with an inch or two of space in between each one. If you're not sure how large to cut the wood, lay out the leaves on the wood ahead of time. Sand all the edges of your board.

Seal the wood with a wood sealant and let the sealant dry thoroughly.

Arrange the family tree leaves on the wood, starting with the eldest generations at the top and ending with the youngest at the bottom.

Spread some glue along the back of each leaf and press it firmly against the wood. Let the glue dry and then display your new family tree.

Family Tree Mobile

Cut out poster board in the shape of leaves. Cut out one for each family member and use different colors for the leaves.

Let your child decorate each poster board leaf with markers, paints, crayons or other art supplies.

Cut out small pictures of each family member, spread some glue on the back of each and press one picture firmly against one leaf-shape cutout. You can add a picture of the same family member to the backside of the leaf or write the person's name across the back instead.

Make a hole near the top of each leaf with a hole puncher. Thread some string through each hole. Use longer pieces of string for the youngest family members and shorter pieces for the eldest.

Tie the other end of each string to the bottom of a clothes hanger. Hang the completed family tree above your little one's bed or in another room to put it on display. Just be sure to hang it out of reach.

Items you will need

  • Leaves (1 for each family member)
  • Wax paper
  • Towel
  • Iron
  • Family pictures
  • 1/4-inch sheet of plywood
  • Handsaw or jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood sealant
  • Strong glue
  • Poster board
  • Art supplies (markers, crayons, paint)
  • Hole punch
  • String
  • Clothes hanger

References

  • Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Off-Line Genealogy for Kids; Ira Wolfman
  • The Art of the Family Tree; Jenn Mason

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images