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August 21, 2009

Family Reunions & Genealogy Games

Tomorrow is a big McGinnis family reunion at our home. We have these about every 5 years, and each year I try to incorporate new games for everyone to play. Because my family is not as passionate about genealogy as I am, I like to brainwash them (oops, I mean educate them!) with a little bit more genealogy and ancestor stories at each gathering.

This year we are having my infamous Scavenger Hunt - it's infamous because at the last gathering my niece broke her ankle! Yes, she was running down our gravel driveway during the hunt and lost her footing. Our property is a 100 acre hobby farm so there's lots of places for mishaps to occur. My Scavenger Hunt is not a genealogy based game but it's lots of fun and everyone seems to enjoy it. Because we are on a large property the boundaries of the hunt are clearly laid out and I hide items when necessary. More on that in tomorrow's blog post!

We will also be playing a game called Family Trivia Game. I created a list of 15 questions about the family - asking such things as "What was the maiden name of Grandma McGinnis?" and "Which ancestor is famous for being the only person to die walking a tightrope across Niagara Falls?" and "What year did Grandma & Grandpa Fuller leave England to come to Canada?"

I create fairly easy questions because of my family's general lack of interest in all things genealogy! But I like to include questions about facts they probably don't know and I'm hoping they'll remember when they leave. If my 11 year old grandson were able to be with us tomorrow, he'd win this game hands down. He knows more about our ancestors than anyone in the family besides me.

One of my questions this year (and this is a big help for any of my family reading my blog before tomorrow!) gives one point for each sibling they can name for four of our ancestors - our Grandpa Fuller, Grandma Fuller, and Grandma & Grandpa McGinnis. I like to give clues so for this question I told them that the total number of possible points is 15. That should help.

I also create a simple ancestor (pedigree) chart that goes on a clipboard I will place outside on one of the tables. Anyone who checks that chart will be able to answer some of the questions. This year I added a question that involves them looking at a photograph of one of our ancestors taken in England in 1894. I hope that adds a little more visual interest to the game. I gave the relationship of the ancestor to me (2nd great-grandmother) and they have to tell me her name. I suspect no one will know it, but they might realize they can check the 16-generation genealogy chart in my computer room to see who fits the bill.

As family arrive they'll be given the sheet with the questions, and a pencil. They have several hours to work on their questions, because I won't be posting the answers until after the corn roast and meal is over. So that will give everyone about 3 hours to try to come up with the answers. Each person will mark their own sheet (hey, my family is honest, aren't they?) and the prize for the person with the most points is a copy of my McGinnis Family book.

I'm excited to try this game out tomorrow, it was very difficult to limit the questions to 15! I kept thinking of questions I wanted to ask, but my husband pointed out it was starting to look too much like an exam at school! Here's hoping I hit the middle ground and asked questions that weren't too difficult but were interesting enough to pique family members' interest.


Janet Iles said...

I hope everyone has a good time at the reunion seeing each other and learning about the family history through the games.

Donna Messerly-Brown said...

Wow. I really admire your energy. I work for a company that, like you, is focused on teaching others about the techniques and technology available to help people trace their roots. Since you have such a following, I thought you might appreciate knowing about the 2009 California Family History Expo in Redding, Calif., Oct. 16 & 17. This expo is presented by Family History Expos,, a well-established Utah-based company.

Lynn said...

I would be interested to here how it went. We have a similar reunion every 5 years and would love to try this at ours. We have been 2 years creating a family history book for this next event. I just attended our first reunion meeting this week and hope I can bring some exciting new ideas to the table. You can follow my genealogy journey at

Hellenic Genealogy Geek said...

This is a great post and it should help stimulate some ideas for my next family gathering. I have been trying to find a way to get my nieces and nephews (not to mention my brothers) interested in our Greek family history. Thanks!