Lance’s family heritage…

This past week, one of Lance’s homework assignments was to work on a project about his family “heritage.”

I personally, have no problem with the assignment, but I do sometimes have a problem about the method of getting to the end project. I think that in general the assignment guidelines and expectations are too vague for young children and their parents. For one the children generally will not ask questions about the assignment as they may not fully understand what is expected or being asked of them in general. Maybe the teacher even has relatively low expectations, which is disappointing but it happens. The problem is that these expectations and requirements are often lost in delivery between the teacher, student, and parent. This makes the whole process frustrating for both parents and students.

I also try not to be the over bearing parent that does the project for the student. This is their project and I feel strongly that it needs to be their work even if they need a lot of help getting to “their” work. I think that when this is the student’s first big project, there should be more than a single sheet of paper sent home with the student about the project. There should be at the very least some overview of what was discussed in class about the assignment and about the “topic” that the project is building out on. This is only fair to the parents, in my opinion. At the very least, give the parents a head up about what is about to fall in the laps of them and their student.

Nonetheless, we set about with Lance’s heritage project by starting at the very bottom of the food chain. We started with him. He needed to know how his ancestors got to American and where they came from. This is not hard to do when you have family members that do genealogy, it was just a matter of cornering the right person and getting them to strip all the non-relevant information out of their research and give it to us straight. That is a lot harder than you might think, by the way.

So we started with my family. That was easier and we could start right then. I was not going to let Lance wait until the last minute. Daddy was unavailable and getting the information on his family was going to be a bit more difficult in theory. So I wrote him down on the piece of paper and we started to build his family tree of ancestors up from him. I made him tell me where they were born. He had to tell me if they were born in America or not. If they were born in America, that was not the ancestor we were looking for. He knows up to his Great-Grandparents on my paternal line personally, so he could pretty much guess that they were born in America or not. My maternal line passed before any of the children were born, so I had to tell him those. Unfortunately, past that we had to make a phone call to Grandma and Grandpa.

We discovered that non-American born ancestors in my family did not go back as far back as I thought. I knew that we had some as recent as the early 1800s in the migration from England that occurred around the time of the Mormon Trail. There was an ancestor that was even more recent than that. There was one in my maternal line that came over in the early 1900s from Denmark. On my paternal line, they were not as recent. There were also some Mormon Trail travelers from England. There were some early American settlers on both sides of the family, however. There were a variety of European countries represented – England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden – between my maternal and paternal lines.

I made Lance go and research each of those countries a little bit. Let me say that research in this regard is all relative. Research to an eight year old is not very extensive. He did know what the flag looked like. That was a start. It was not going to get us very far.

Finally, I had him narrow it down to a single country. He did not narrow it down the to country that he wanted to do. The largest represented heritage that is shared in our family is that of the English culture. It just happened. It was not because of my family directly. It is because of my husband. They were his experiences growing up. My experiences growing up were more of the Danish and Scandinavian roots that my maternal Grandmother shared with us, but shamefully I have not shared many of them with my children. My maternal Grandmother has been gone that many years. We have, however, shared a lot of Ben’s experiences as they were his personal experiences from his life.

So I did encourage him to, even make him, pick the country of England and those ancestors. It was easy, what can I say. With our recent trip to England, I had pictures that Lance could use on his poster. From the various things that we do, I had pictures that Lance could use. Yes, I had a very heavy influence on what country he picked for this project.

Here is Lance putting his word strips onto strips of construction paper for his poster.

Let me just say that I love glue tape rollers and rotary paper cutters. These two items make projects so much easier. I remember having to use rulers, pencils and scissors. I also remember having to use rubber cement to stick things down for all my History Fair projects. Maybe a glue stick would have worked for this particular project, but maybe not. For the amount of work that Lance was putting into this, I was certainly not going to let him be disappointed by the fact that his pictures were falling off the poster board.

Lance was so serious about getting his word strips onto the strips of construction paper.

He was so excited to use the glue tape roller to stick them down.

It was a lot of work to get all those word strips glued down, but he was careful and worked hard. 

The typed out report he did. It is actually stuck on the back of his poster. This is what he was going to read as part of his presentation.

Lance’s finished Heritage Project Poster. Not bad for his first big project poster. He had to tell at least five facts about his heritage.

Lance, ready to go to school this morning with his project to present to his class about what he learned about his family heritage.

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