Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Genealogy and Family History

Youth Corner

Genealogy at School

3rd and 4th Grades

Introduction to Genealogy - Time Travel with EuGENEus!

Download Freeware

Additional Formats
[PDF 55 KB], [RTF 434 KB]

A complete lesson plan for the initiation of students to simple genealogical activities.


This lesson plan was developed taking into consideration social sciences and history curriculum requirements from each province and territory. It proposes activities that can be modified to address curriculum requirements for younger and older age groups by adapting the level of overall expectations. An adult or mature student can guide younger students through the activities.

Learning Outcomes and Overall Expectations

The suggested educational material focuses mainly on research of simple documents such as photos and interviews with family members. Students are encouraged to develop tactics to:

  • acquire inquiry and research skills by conducting effective oral interviews with family members and by analyzing original documents;
  • develop a better understanding of the Canadian experience by examining documents that are relevant to their personal history;
  • examine ancestral lifestyles and compare with today's lifestyles;
  • evaluate information about ancestors to recognize and understand their contribution to communities in Canada;
  • classify and organize the information found during research activities;
  • develop critical thinking through simple genealogical activities;
  • understand and learn to appreciate why original documents are important;
  • learn and use appropriate terminology associated with genealogy, research and history; and
  • communicate information and research results by using varied strategies.

Learning Activities

This lesson plan contains four main learning activities and four supplemental classroom activities. A fictional, animated character named EuGENEus will guide the students through specific learning activities. EuGENEus will provide context, instructions and tips.

It is possible to use each activity independently but the most effective approach is to use these activities in sequence with each building off the preceding exercise. A glossary is provided and hypertext links in the online pages will take students to word definitions. The evaluation rubric is used to assess knowledge acquisition.

The Student Handout can be printed and distributed to students for completion on paper. We also offer three online interactive activities which need to be completed on a computer terminal. They can also be printed and completed on paper.

Additional Classroom Learning Activities

As students discover the history of their family and learn about genealogy, teachers may want to include additional learning opportunities to reinforce and build on the new concepts. Following are suggestions building on the family history theme.

  • It's Showtime!
    Imagine the interesting findings your students will uncover about the history of their family. Why not create a classroom museum where students build exhibits on an interesting family member? The class can present a complete portrait of the past 100 years by ensuring that all generations are represented. When asking students to select a special family member to research, keep in mind that some students might not have information about the older generation. These students should focus on their parents or even on themselves. Exhibit elements could be:
    • A profile of the family member including name, date of birth, profession and interesting facts - the information could be presented on a timeline and significant events on the timeline could be described further in detail in oral or written form.
    • Objects owned or fabricated by the selected family member - a description of the object or a short narrative explaining why the object is significant either to the student or to the family could accompany the object. Students may choose to conduct research and draw a picture of significant objects used by the selected family member (toys, tools, furniture, etc.).
    • Photographs or official documents belonging to this family membe - these documents, proof that someone really did exist or that something really did happen, are always interesting.

The classroom museum can be augmented with the feel of a traditional country fair. Select a date, invite parents to visit the class and ask students to set up their exhibit. Students could even bring and share a traditional family recipe at their exhibit. While guests circulate and visit the exhibits, students explain and answer questions.

Reminder: Original documents and old objects are very fragile and take special care. Make sure students are careful and that a proper storage area is identified.

  • Wow! What a Name!
    As students compile information, encourage them to identify different and unusual given names.

    Post a chart for each of the five generations on a wall and have students write the most different given names in their family history. Once completed, run through a class survey to identify the most popular name for each generation and take a vote on the most unusual Canadian history!

    By consulting a dictionary of given names, students can also find the significance of the names and their origin. Other categories can also be included on the chart such as interesting traditions, and unusual events.
  • Accessing the Internet for Information
    Genealogists are like ancestry detectives! They track down clues about relatives and ancestors. Most of their work is to look for this information in books, on microfiche, in archives or in library sources.

    The Internet is also a source of interesting information about Canada's past. It's one of many research tools used by genealogists for information on family ancestry. Students can be lead through a simple search using a popular search engine or to genealogical Web sites for very specific historical research.

    Imagine the excitement when an ancestor's name comes up for a given query! In some cases, you might even be able to access images of original documents like military attestation papers.

    Here are detailed procedures for accessing some search engines and interesting Web sites:
    • go to the Library and Archives Canada Website:;
    • select in the left-hand menu ArchiviaNet;
    • select from the list of databases:
      • Government of Canada Files
      • Colonial Archives
      • Immigration Records; and
    • enter names of family members and see what comes up!
  • Another interesting option:
    • access - this site was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints;
    • select Search for Ancestors; and
    • enter names of family members and see what comes up!
  • Classroom Time Capsule
    Create a time capsule for future generations with elements that are relevant and representative of your student's generation. The culmination of the activity is not only the locking away of the time capsule but the presentation of all the exhibits.

    Documents and objects can include newspapers, magazines, small toys, computer diskettes, etc. This activity will spark discussion about today's artifacts that are meaningful, symbolic and trivial.

    The time capsule activity is well suited to be a group activity. Each group presents the elements they chose for their time capsule and explains why they feel the objects or documents are significant and representative of their generation. Each exhibit can also be set up in the school lobby with a written introduction by the students to provide context.
  • Professional Development Opportunity
    The Genealogy and Family History's main Web site is a resourceful destination to learn more about genealogy. Consult "How to Begin" of the main site to access pertinent information.

Visit the ARCHIVED - Learning Centre to discover other educational resources.