family historyWhen your grandkids are sharing photos of the donuts they’re eating the split second they’re eating them and communicating with their friends at every moment of the day and night, it’s easy for them to write off what happened yesterday as old (and yawn) boring news. However, despite the younger generations’ preoccupation with today, the yesterdays that represent your family’s history are important for them to hear about and store away. (After all, someone needs to keep that family history alive after you’re not around to tell all those old stories anymore!)

But how do you capture your grandkids’ fleeting attention? Here are some ways to use the same technology, which keeps them rooted in the present (or more precisely, the moment), to put an updated spin on the past.

Don’t worry if you have no tech skills. For some of the ideas below, there are links to walk you through the process; however, you can also enlist your kids or more tech-savvy friends or neighbors to help. Better yet, enroll in a computer class at your local senior center and develop your own skills!

Record your life story

Use your smartphone to record a few moments of your life (in video or audio only)—maybe a funny story about an adventure you had as a teenager or how you met their granddad or grandma. If you really want to impress your grandkids (and don’t mind going public with your stories), upload your videos to YouTube, or simply email or text the kids the audio or video file. If they enjoy the first installment, create a whole series. You might even become the entertainment at the next family reunion!

From scrapbook to screen

Choose some interesting shots from the pages of those dusty, old scrapbooks or photo albums. For example, if everyone has always told your granddaughter that she looks just like you as a kid, find photos to prove it. Scan the pix and create a short digital slide show for your grandchildren to watch the next time they come for a visit. No kid is too old to love a good story, so as they look at the pictures on the screen, explain how that big burly man with the handlebar moustache once wrestled a bear or that little girl smiling for the camera grew up to be a nurse during WWII.

Family flavor

Is there a recipe that your grandkids beg you to make every time they visit? Pretend you’re a celebrity chef on the Food Network and use your smartphone to make a video of yourself making that delicious spice cake or your own grandmother’s chicken and dumplings recipe. Give the video to all of your granddaughters and grandsons so they can make it for their kids one day.

Estate giveaway

Often kids will get a better picture of the past if you paint it with things they can actually see … touch. If you’re trying to pare down your possessions to move to a retirement community or to downsize, take photos of items that have family significance, and, along with a short story about each item, create a Powerpoint for your grandkids. Once you gotten your audience’s attention, invite the kids over to see everything in person (arrange in estate sale fashion) and let them pick out their favorite one or two items to take home with them and cherish for years to come.


Share how you pass on your family history and keep your family legacy alive.