We are fortunate that David Bowie left us with a vast collection of music and performances with which to remember him, but how do YOU, as a family historian, preserve the originality and imagination that runs through YOUR family? Do you maintain notes or images of ancestors' creations in your family tree database programs? Do you write about the creative talents of past family members on your genealogy blog? Do you discuss those talents with the younger members of your family?
I firmly believe in helping children develop their own senses of creativity at all stages of development. Fostering creativity in day-to-day life helps children develop empathy, understanding, and compassion, not to mention an ability to see things from different perspectives, which is a necessary part of invention and innovation. And, like so many other things, family history can help children discover the creative talents that wait inside of them, ready to emerge at first inspiration.
Though you may not have any famous, professional creative artists in your family tree, the personal creativity of our ancestors was expressed at many levels in many different ways. Read through this list while thinking of only the grandparents and/or great-grandparents you knew, and I guarantee you will find evidence of the creative spirit. And today, creativity can be found in many technical and computerized professional fields, so don't forget to talk about current family members when it comes to creativity, too!
Embroidery, sewing, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, weaving, quilting, cross-stitch
Painting, drawing, sculpting
Singing, playing, composing music
Fashion - designing, creating, wearing
Cooking, baking, cake and cookie decorating
Writing - journals, stories, poetry
Theater writing and acting
Designing and building structures
Writing computer programs
Computer graphic design
Tattooing (Many tattoo artists are incredibly talented, creative people!)
It's important, when talking with children about their ancestors, to not only discuss the factual, mechanical details of their lives, but also, as much as possible, to try to give children a sense of their ancestors' personalities, and creativity is a big part of one's overall persona. Do you have something physical that an ancestor made? Show it to the children in your family. Do you have journals or stories or poems that an ancestor wrote? Read them to the children. Do you have sound or video recordings of a family member performing in some capacity? Play them for the children. Even if all you have are simple photos or newspaper clippings or memories attesting to a past family member's creative hobbies and talents, share them with children, and emphasize the joy those family members found and expressed to others within their creative mediums.
I've created another of my family history 'notebooking' worksheets where children can either write or draw about the creative talents and hobbies of their family members. When used in conjunction with some of my other (free) ancestor worksheets, which can be found here, you and your child can create a binder full of ancestor facts for kids to collect and browse through while learning about family history. Click on the image below to open a PDF of the 'Our Family's Creativity' worksheet, which is six pages in length. Pages two through six can be printed off as often as needed so that you can add as many family members as you want to your notebook. And don't forget to ask the child to include him/herself on the worksheet, showcasing his/her creative abilities.