10 Websites and Genealogy Resources for Kids

This past autumn, we enjoyed a family holiday on the East Coast of the United States and were thereby afforded with numerous educational experiences exploring our nation’s history. One of our most anticipated visits was to Ellis Island and the Museum of Immigration.
genealogy for kids

While here, we enjoyed a guided interpretive walk with a park ranger and thereafter enjoyed the many exhibits on our own. Amongst the highlights of our visit was seeing Norwegian bunad and langeleik, a stringed folklore musical instrument also known as a droned zither. As both my husband and I have Norwegian ancestors, seeing these personal artifacts brought the experience alive for us.

Genealogy Resources for Kids

Genealogy has always been fascinating to me. I grew up listening to stories my dad would share of his childhood and the stories that had been passed on to him by his Uncle Sam who had emigrated from Norway in the early 1900s. We’ve explored many of the branches of our family tree over the years. Today, I share some of our favorite genealogy resources for kids.

World’s Largest Online Resource for Family History

This is a subscription based, very user friendly site that is great even for a novice. This is the site I have used the most in my research. It includes records, links to other users, family trees, resources, pictures, and cemeteries.

Family Search

Family Search is a nonprofit family history organization maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since the Latter-day Saints are dedicated to preserving the records of their ancestors, they provide this service free.

Resources for Genealogists

Free database for genealogists that includes immigration, naturalization, military, passport, land, and bankruptcy records.

Researching Records and Archives

A low priced paid subscription web service that provides the user with an abundance of archived records of their ancestors.

Ellis Island History Center

Free immigration information for any ancestors that were processed through the Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924, during their years of operation. Even if the relatives did not go through the port, it is an excellent source with links to other helpful sites.

genealogyforkidsGenealogy For Kids Forms

This site is geared for children with adult help. It has several links to forms kids can use, questions that they would find helpful while interviewing relatives and even a ‘cousin calculator’ that will help figure out how family members are related.

Genweb Project for Kids

This site is a good place for younger kids to start. It has links to several sites that would be helpful, however several of the links aren’t working. As with all internet usage, parental monitoring is needed.

Washington State Genealogy Resources for Kids

Excellent resource for students as well as adults with a wealth of information on researching the family tree.

Climbing Your Family Tree

This is an excellent source of worksheets for children to use when charting their family tree. It has PDF files to be used when interviewing family members.

Companion Website to be Used with the PBS Program Ancestors

An online companion to the series of 13 episodes presented by PBS on researching your ancestry. Each episode takes the viewer on a journey closer to finding their family’s story.

Lessons Learned Through Sports and Competition

My kiddos have been part of a swim team since 2011. When we first joined, our only objective was a physical activity for good health and fitness. Swimming has since become a major part of our lives.

Personally, I did not have a preference for what sport they chose. Over the years, we’ve tried BMX, dance, skiing, and Taekwondo. We also occasionally take part in trail runs. Yet swimming is the sport that we’ve stuck with the longest.

I haven’t written extensively about our swim team experiences, but here’s a fun peak at her first swim meet.

High School Swim

This past winter, my daughter has been swimming on the high school swim team in addition to our year-round swim club. There is an increased level of intensity – she is required to attend 5 or more practices each week to compete in the swim meets. In club, though we aimed for 3-4 practices a week, there was no penalty if we missed or were unable to attend.

As such, she has had less free time and has thereby had to learn how to better manage her time. Yet, high school swimming has been a great experience for many reasons. My daughter says,

I like high school swim because it feels more like a family. We cheer for each other through the whole meet and we have lots of fun socials like Kozy Pie Night.

lessons learned through sports

Though hubby and I both grew up here and also began our professional careers here after college, we have only recently moved back. Her participation in high school swim has helped us to feel more connected to the community.

Lessons Learned Through Sports

Whether it is club sports or a high school team, taking part in sports has been very beneficial and we’ve recently reflected on what we’ve learned over the years.

Some days, at the end of our lessons and errands, my kids will say they are “too tired” to go to swim team but they go anyway.

There are those moments when they have been so tired they want to quit but don’t.

How to Avoid Child Burnout @EvaVarga.net

Young athletes are capable of getting burned out, too. Here’s a post exploring How to Avoid Child Burnout

They learn to be disciplined, focused and dedicated.

They learn to take care of their body. To get enough rest and to fuel their bodies with the right foods.

They learn to take care of their equipment.

They learn to manage their time and not procrastinate in completing their coursework and household chores.

They learn to work with others and to be good team mates, gracious in defeat and humble in success.

They learn to deal with disappointment when they don’t get that placing or time they’d hoped for, but still they go back week after week giving it their best shot.

They learn to make and accomplish goals. We meet with their coach periodically each season to discuss their goals and what areas they need to focus on.

They learn to respect, not only themselves, but other athletes, officials and coaches.

They learn that it takes hours and hours, years and years of hard work and practice to create a champion and that success does not happen overnight.

Sports Scholarship?

Did you know only 2% of high school athletes receive college scholarships? Chasing a Sports Scholarship may not be your best route to college.

They learn to be proud of small achievements and to work towards long term goals.

They develop life-long friendships and create lifelong memories.

Being active gets their heart pumping and their blood circulating which promotes good health and life-long habits.

They develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others.

Mythological Secrets of Greece: Nea & Palea Kameni

Nea Kameni is the eastern Mediterannean’s youngest volcanic landform, and today it is a protected natural monument and national geological park. Nea Kameni and the neighbouring small island Palea Kameni (the new and old burnt islands) have formed over the past two millennia by repeated eruptions of dacite lava and ash. The most recent eruption occurred in January 1950 when the volcano dropped lava within a range of 850 meters, and explosions lasted for three weeks.

“This year a small islet, hitherto unknown, made an appearance close to the island of Thera.” ~ Roman historian, Cassius Dio, 47 AD

Volcanic Nea Kameni @EvaVarga.netNea Kameni is visited daily by dozens of tourist boats. We were amongst them – enjoying an late afternoon cruise in a kaiki (traditionally, a small wooden trading vessel, brightly painted and rigged for sail) to the volcanic island within the flooded Santorini caldera.

This excursion can be bought in any hotel in Santorini, as it is very popular. Boats leave from the new harbor, Fira, and it takes about 20 minutes to travel to the volcano in the middle of the caldera.

Nea Kameni

Upon arrival, we hiked a gravel path to reach the top of the 130-meter-high volcanic crater. There is a small entrance fee to help pay for the upkeep and the monitoring systems.

The ascent to the rim of Nea Kameni requires walking up some unstable terrain, under Santorini’s trademark blazing sun. We were glad we wore comfortable sandals and protective gear to shield us from the hot rays. From here we had a magnificent view of Thira (Santorini) before returning to the kaiki along the same path.

Magma exists at depths of a few kilometers; it’s visible through hot springs and hot gases, giving Nea Kameni its trademark sulfuric aroma. The kids got a kick out of the fact that we hiked the rim of a volcano inside another volcano! 

Palea Kameni @EvaVarga.netPalea Kameni

After the hike, we sailed to the volcanic islet of Palea Kameni where we could enjoy a short swim to a protected bay along the shore. The water went from green to orange-brown and we all giggled when we began to feel the temperature change, the hot and cold perfectly showing the effect of the waters coming up from below within the volcano.

You could just feel the tension melt away after a unique afternoon swim in the heated waters of the thermal springs. Although it wasn’t hot enough to be dubbed a ‘hot spring’ we found the water temperature to be refreshing after our hike on nearby Nea Kameni. Yes, our clothes did get stained a little but we had been forewarned.

We closed the evening with a wonderful buffet dinner aboard the kaiki as we watched the sunset over the islands. It was spectacular conclusion to our holiday in Greece.

This is the first in a five-day hopscotch exploring the Mythological Secrets of Greece:

The Acropolis & Ancient Athens 

The Island of Mykonos

The Island of Delos

The Lost City and Paradise in Santorini

Nea & Palea Kameni  (this post)

Hopscotch-2017-67808

Find more homeschool related topics to explore at the iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Hopscotch

Ever Wanted to Visit Switzerland? Now You Can With Case of Adventure

Travel has always been a major part of our homeschool lifestyle and we consider ourselves to be World Citizens. We do our best to immerse ourselves in other cultures while also learning more about our own nation’s rich history and geography. When I learned of the opportunity “to travel to Switzerland” with the CASE OF ADVENTURE Switzerland Unit Study, I knew it was the perfect fit for us.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland unit study @EvaVarga.net

Whether your family enjoys traveling or has never traveled overseas, you’ll love how Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland makes learning come alive.

Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland is the first book of the CASE OF ADVENTURE travel series. It centers around a homeschool family that travels regularly. Upon reading the first chapter, your kids will dive into adventure with Ren, Rome, Jake, Libby and Tiffany as they discover an ancient coin and a mystery connected with a cuckoo clock which takes them to the beautiful land of Switzerland. In their quest to solve the puzzle, they unearth some fascinating history and recover a lost fortune.

Switzerland Unit Study Resources & Ideas

We’ve have always had an eclectic, Unschooling approach to educating our children. Many of our most enjoyable learning experiences have been unit studies using a novel as our spine.

Some of our past unit studies include:

We thereby relished in the opportunity to explore Switzerland in a unit study based on the novel Cuckoo Clock Secrets in Switzerland. It was a relaxed way to stay engaged in academics through the holidays.

I began each morning reading aloud a chapter or two and then the kids would dive into the investigation suggestions (IDAs) at the end of each chapter. Several videos related to the content were suggested for each chapter. We thereby learned how cuckoo clocks were made, how ropes are made for mountain climbing, relative distances, the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland (a huge part of the mystery), and the process of cheese making.

Huge metal vats of curds and whey were stirred with big metal arms and the curds cut into small blocks with wire slicers and then reheated. 

“How does the milk change into cheese?” asked Rome of Frau Von Allmen. 

“They add a culture to the milk. The culture is a bacteria which changes the cheese as you heat it,” she replied. 

cheese factoryUpon reading about the family’s visit to the large cheese houses in the village of Gimmelwald, we revisited our own experience in cheese making at a local cheese factory. Inspired, we also enjoyed making cheese fondue and sampling a variety of Swiss cheeses we found at our local grocer.

To coordinate with our science studies, I asked each of the kids to write an expository essay describing how a cuckoo clock functions – describing the simple machines within. As I shared our activities with family over the holidays, we learned that Grandma Raandi (my mother) has one she says needs a little repair that she would be willing to give us. We haven’t yet got our hands on it (she doest live locally), but we look forward to applying our new knowledge soon. We’ll keep you posted. :)

I love how living books can encourage further investigations and explorations of topics. Following these little rabbit trails are what make homeschooling so unique. After immersing ourselves in the Cuckoo Clock Secrets, it is no wonder that Switzerland has now bumped up on our “must see” countries list.

Switzerland Lapbook Activity Packs & Printables

If you are pressed for time or if you are inexperienced in putting together a unit study of your own, CASE OF ADVENTURE makes it easy. In addition to the great novel, they have also put together a wealth of activities and downloadable resources. Destination Switzerland is available now and Scotland will be available soon.

Switzerland Unit StudyVisit CASE OF ADVENTURE to purchase the Destination Switzerland Unit Study as well as download the FREE Maps Pack and Money Pack to use for your geography studies. You will also find the Mega Travel Activity Pack that goes along with any novel in their series. Filled with spy gear and codes – this activity pack will bring the mystery to life, especially for younger kids.

My kids have never been very keen on lapbooks and we don’t have a color printer. Thus, what I appreciated best in the activity packs was the teacher manual which provided all sorts of amazing tips and suggestions for integrating Switzerland studies into our daily activities.

Worldview: CASE OF ADVENTURE is not a fully secular curriculum. There is mention of Christianity, bible study, and prayer but the curriculum and activities that accompany the novel are not a Bible curriculum.

Connect with CASE OF ADVENTURE

Follow CASE OF ADVENTURE on Facebook and Instagram to learn of future titles and activity ideas. You will also find them on Pinterest. If Twitter is more your style, follow Karyn Collett, the author.

Take advantage of the Special Launch Discount of 25% off entire cart for 10 days only – use coupon code: 25LAUNCH (February 1-11, 2017) or enter to win

Please note the discount is applied to the downloadable products only, not the print book from Amazon.

Mythological Secrets of Greece: The Island of Delos

The island of Delos is located near the center of the Cyclades archipelago and is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece. It held had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Greek mythology and by the time of the Odyssey, the island was already famous as the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.

From our base in Mykonos, we made an excursion to the nearby Delos (just 30 minutes by boat) and spent the day here with a local specialist learning about the history of the small island. Today, it is inhabited only by an antiquity guard and an employee of the Archeological museum and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Delos @EvaVarga.net

Ongoing excavation work takes place under the direction of the French School at Athens and many of the artifacts found are on display here at the Archaeological Museum of Delos as well as on the mainland at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

In the past, Delos was an ancient center of worship – a temple to the twins Apollo (god of the sun, music, and healing) and Artemis (goddess of the moon, maidenhood, and archery). It was here that it is believed Leto gave birth to her children; fathered by Zeus.

Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple; for no other will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers; for truly your own soil is not rich.
 Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo 51–60

During the Hellenistic period (323 – 30 BC), it became one of the most important center for commerce and religion in Greece. Its inhabitants were wealthy merchants, seafarers and bankers who came from as far as the Middle East. The Romans made it a free port in 167 BC, which brought even greater prosperity to the island. The shift in trade route and the waning interest in ancient religion in the following centuries brought the decline of Delos.

It was fascinating to walk along the streets and homes of ancient Delos. Though not as completely excavated or restored as Pompeii, it is much older. Most fascinating to me were the intact mosaics on the floors; the more elaborate and intricate the design, the more wealthy the home owners. In the House of the Dolphins the atrium mosaic features erodes (winged gods) riding dolphins.

Delos: House of Dionysus floor mosaic @EvaVarga.House of Dionysus

The House of Dionysus was a luxurious 2nd century private house named for the floor mosaic of Dionysus riding a panther. The mosaic depicts the god with outstretched wings and ivy wreath, mounted on a panther with a wreath of vine branches and grapes around its neck. In his right hand the god grasps a thyrsus, a staff crowned with ivy, as if it was a spear.

On the ground, between plants, a kantharos, a wine vessel, another attribute of the god of wine. The wings suggest a Dionysiac daimon, a supernatural being acting as an intermediate between gods and men, rather than the god himself.

The Terrace of Lions

The Terrace of the Lions (pictured at bottom in the collage above) was dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos shortly before 600 BCE. Originally there were nine to twelve marble lions guarding the Sacred Way. The lions create a monumental avenue comparable to Egyptian avenues of sphinxes. Today only seven of the original lions remain.

Delos: House of Cleopatra @EvaVarga.netHouse of Cleopatra

The remains of the House of Cleopatra (138 BC), a dwelling of a wealthy merchant family. It was named after the wife of the owner. Headless statues of the owner of the house, Dioscourides and his wife, Cleopatra, are visible here.

The open floor plans of the homes permitted natural light and fresh air to circulate. The city also featured a complex underground sewage system. Located near the theater is a cistern, evidence of the advance water system developed by the ancient inhabitants to overcome the shortage of fresh water supply in the island.

This is the first in a five-day hopscotch exploring the Mythological Secrets of Greece:

The Acropolis & Ancient Athens 

The Island of Mykonos

The Island of Delos (this post)

The Lost City & Paradise in Santorini

Nea & Palea Kameni

Hopscotch-2017-67808

Find more homeschool related topics to explore at the iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Hopscotch

Mythological Secrets of Greece: Mykonos

We departed Athens very early in the morning aboard a high speed ferry to the island of Mykonos. Our early departure meant that by the time we arrived on the island, our rooms were not ready. We thereby opted to spend the day poolside and begin our exploration in the early evening.

In Greek mythology, Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykons, the son of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and the Titans as well as where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus.

Mykonos @EvaVarga.net

Mikri Venetia (Little Venice)

From our hotel, we took a small bus to the city center, Chora, where we met up with our local specialist for a walking tour of the historic town. We began in Mikri Venetia or Little Venice (pictured at top in collage), where rows of fishing houses line the waterfront with their balconies hanging over the sea.

The first of these was constructed in the mid-18th century with little basement doors that provided direct access to the sea and underground storage areas led people to believe that the owners were secretly pirates.

Some of the houses have now been converted into cafes, little shops, and galleries. Little Venice is considered one of the most romantic spots on the island and many people gather there to watch the sunset.

Kato Mili (Lower Mills)

Our next stop were the windmills, a defining feature of the Myconian landscape. Though there are many windmills dotted around the island, most are concentrated in the main town. Standing in a row on a hill overlooking the sea (pictured at bottom in collage), their sails would harness the strong northern winds.

Built by the Venetians in the 16th century, the wood and straw capped windmills were used to mill flour. They remained in use until the early 20th century. Today, many have been refurbished and restored to serve as homes to locals.

Mykonos Alley @EvaVarga.net

As we were led through the narrow alleys and streets, she pointed out the many tiny chapels and churches – over 800 in total – most all of which have red domed roofs (in contrast to the blue domed churches on the island of Santorini).

She explained that when sailors would arrive safely at the shore, they would build chapels in honor of their name saints to express gratitude for their safe arrival. Thus, each is privately owned and thus closed to the public.

Mykonos Chapel @EvaVarga.net

The most cosmopolitan of all the Greek islands, Mykonos is well known for its splendid beaches. During our stay here, we enjoyed a full day relaxing on the beach. On the southern side of the island, where we were staying (Plati Gialos), there are several nearby sandy beaches.

We opted to begin at Elia Beach, the farthest away and planned to work our way back. To reach any of these shorelines, the fastest and easiest way is by water taxi. Comfortably seated – relatively speaking – we were on our way.

Known locally as the windy island, Mykonos certainly lived up to its name. Strong wind swept across the shore all day. We all enjoyed the water and took turns lounging on the chaise under an umbrella (these were available for rent at 10€ each, thus we opted to secure only two). The sand was so strong, however, it bit into our skin – free exfoliation! 😉

Mykonos beaches @EvaVarga.net

At the dock where the water taxi dropped us off was located at the center of the beach. From here, we had the option of walking left (West) or right (East). We chose the right as our tour guide had informed us in advance that clothing was optional to the left.

After a few hours of incessant wind, however, we gave up and headed back. Along the return route, the water taxi stopped briefly at each beach we had previously bypassed – Agrari, Super Paradise, Paradise, Paraga, and finally our home beach at Plati Gialos. Had it not been so windy, we likely would have stopped.

This is the first in a five-day hopscotch exploring the Mythological Secrets of Greece:

The Acropolis & Ancient Athens 

The Island of Mykonos  (this post)

The Island of Delos

The Lost City & Paradise in Santorini

Nea & Palea Kameni

Hopscotch-2017-67808Find more homeschool related topics to explore at the iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Hopscotch