I have been fascinated by history for quite some time. I enjoy listening to family stories in particular. In fact, about ten years ago I had the chance to interview my grandfather and his older sister (both now deceased) about their childhood memories. I recorded our conversation and typed it up adding in some old photos. It's a simple word document but one that not only I cherish but so does my extended family and, hopefully, my children and grandchildren one day. It gives a great glimpse into the past at the turn of the 20th century.
As technology has advanced, the way that genealogist looks for information has changed and it's actually almost become a bit easier to find. I remember talking about this subject with my hubby's grandmother. She was an avid genealogist and talked abut the trips far and wide she made with her sister to find the records they needed to track down family lines.
I have been blessed to have avid genealogists on both sides of my family who willing share their information.
As a result of all of this, I was very happy to check out a new book series called Branching Out just released by Jennifer Holik. Jennifer has taken the subject of genealogy and created lesson plans to teach children in grades 1-12. There are three sets of books. Each set has two books which covers 30 lessons broken into Lessons 1-15 in the first book and Lessons 16-30 in the second. They are broken in to grades 1-3, 4-8, and high school. They are available in either paperback format, pdf format, or as PowerPoint presentations. I was given the chance to check out the high school level books in the pdf format.
I must say that I was very impressed by not only how thorough the series was but also how much information it contained. It was also written to the student and would make an excellent self-study. Jennifer had homeschooling families in mind as one of the potential users of these books.
There are five additional books required for the study. I was able to find them all easily at either my library or at online book stores. While this definitely adds to the cost of the course, overall it still ends up being very affordable.
The Lessons 1-15 book sells for $29.95 for the paperback format or $20.95 for the pdf format or PowerPoint format and covers (lesson titles are listed below):
- What is Genealogy and Why Should I Care?
- Where Do I Start? What Do I Need?
- Genealogy Database
- The Family Group Sheet
- Activity: Interviewing Your Parents
- Write a Story and Biography
- Analyze and Evaluate the Information
- Home Sources
- Hidden Sources
- Primary Sources and Citations
- Secondary Sources
- Direct and Indirect Evidence
- Vital Records
- Census Records
- Activity: Start a Diary
- Final Project
Each lesson has a stated goal, vocabulary that should be learned, a reading assignment from the required books, a well-defined lesson, notes to the parent/teacher (as needed), and an assignment. I really liked how field trips were also scheduled throughout. They were very simple and included going to the library to learn how the genealogical information is set up to as well as taking trips to relative's homes to help look for information (with permission of course).
The first book covers all the basics of genealogy research. It would be enough to just complete this one book. However, if your student wants to delve even further into genealogical research, than you'll definitely want to check out the second book with Lessons 16-30.
The next set of lessons takes everything the student learns in the first fifteen lessons one big step forward. This is where the student learns to find the stories behind the names.
The lessons included are:
- Health and Causes of Death
- Probate Records
- Land Records and Maps
- Military Records
- Religious and Cemetery Records
- Naturalization Records
- Research Plans and Logs
- Examine It Once, Twice, and Again
- Travel and Your Family History
- Storing and Organizing Paper and Digital Files
- Putting It All Together
There was one more required book that was added to the previous ones and again, it was easily found at both my library and online sources.
Another addition to this set of lessons is the "Make It Personal" section. This is where the student is encouraged to take what they have just learned and use it in creating something about their family history. For example, the lesson on occupation has the student write a one page report about different jobs their ancestors held. It also gives lots of writing prompts to help the student begin thinking how what was going on in the world would have affected their ancestors job choices.
Lessons 16-20 sells for slightly more at $34.95 for a paperback version or $24.95 for a pdf version or PowerPoint version.
Overall I was very impressed by these books. I really liked how things were set up. It was very user friendly. Jennifer included lots of links to online resources and one of the required books is even available for free online and links for those reading assignments are included in the lesson plans. I think Jennifer has created an interesting product and one that any budding genealogist would enjoy using.
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. All opinions shared are my own. I was given the product free of charge in exchange for my unbiased opinion of the product.