Explore Your Family History With A DIY Family Tree
This fun and meaningful family project will give you all the happy-cry feels, plus it makes a thoughtful gift for someone you love.
Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns
Creating a family tree is surprisingly easy, and makes an excellent keepsake to frame and hang up on the walls. This simple DIY family tree project uses a basic template with ink fingerprints to create a completely unique representation of your family history. You can make multiple trees to give out as gifts to other family members, or dive deep into different sides of the family to represent your ancestral history. Either way, this family tree activity is a meaningful and fun project to work on together.
Step One: Make a List and Check It Twice
Your first step is (along with the kids) to make a list of your family members — no need to get elaborate with research on ancestry database sites, just start with your immediate family and see how many generations you can add. Next, write down birthdates for each person.
Then, have the kids help you in finding a picture for each person. This part will probably be easy enough for the recent generations, but could require breaking out the family photo albums as you start to venture further back into older generations.
Step Two: Print a Template
One Fab Day
Once you and the kids have got your family history sorted out, you’ll need the template for the tree. There are several options depending on how complicated you want to make the craft portion of this activity. One Fab Day has shared a free template on her website that can easily be printed out and decorated to your liking. If you don’t want to print the template out yourself, you can purchase this watercolor fingerprint family tree, which comes already colored in.
Step 3: Gather Fingerpainting Supplies
For the crafting portion of this family project, you'll need to make sure the kids have access to a canvas or poster board, ink pads, a fine black pen, and a picture frame. They might choose to stick to the fall vibes of the tree and go with shades of oranges, greens, and browns, or switch it up completely and use an assortment of their favorite colors.
Step 4: Stamp Fingerprint "Leaves"
One Fab Day
Once all the supplies are ready to go, it’s time to get stamping. Make sure you know exactly where you want the kids to put their fingerprints — you might even want to do a few practice rounds on a blank sheet of paper to teach them the process. Then dip the tips of your fingers on the ink pad so it covers your full fingerprint, and press your finger down on the end of the branch to create a fingerprint "leaf." Continue the process with the different color ink pads until you’ve filled out the tree and have enough branches for your family members. Let the ink dry completely before you move on to the next step.
Step 5: Fill in the Details
One Fab Day
As you wait for the ink to dry, share stories about your family — who was the best cook? Who was the best dancer? Who had an amazing adventure? Who gave the best hugs? Sometimes it's okay for a craft project to take a little time, if it means a few extra minutes to look through family pictures and share a little history. You can even write down some of these memories to accompany the family tree.
When the ink is dry, use a fine point pen to write each family member’s first and last name, along with their birthdate. When you're finished, you can slide the finished family tree into a prepared frame to hang around the house or even give as a gift to family members.