Discovering our ancestors in ELP ICT…

In ELP ICT this term, the pupils have been investigating their family lineage and undertaking a project that is allowing them to develop and use a wide range of computing skills whilst finding out a little more about where they come from.

We began the initial work by watching a clip from a BBC iPlayer episode of Who Do You Think You Are? In this episode famous childrens’ author, JK Rowling, explored her own family background and allowed our young people to have a simple discussion around the topic and disclose to the group what they already knew about family trees.

Our next task was to make a start on our own family tree building! Each pupil was given a basic template to take home and get parental support in completing the basic building blocks of their own ancestral line. Each family group completed a skeleton tree with details on grandparents name and dates of birth – and great grandparents if this information was to hand. Some families were also able to provide information about a further generation back.

This information was going to be used by each pupil to input data into an online family tree generator. Each student created their own online account using their school email address. Those who needed support to do this were assisted by an adult. Then data was entered into their respective trees and saved for use later on in this process.

Our next task was to find out more about our names. First of all we used online heraldry and ancestry sites to search for each of our respective surnames. We found out –

  • what our surname meant
  • where it came from
  • what its distribution in the UK was in 1880
  • whether it had a coat of arms, a clan, a tartan or a motto

Each pupil generated a MS Word document to record this information.

We then moved on to looking at first names. Each pupil was set homework to find out why they were given the name they have. They were to pay particular attention to –

  • whether they were named after a relative
  • whether they were named after someone famous
  • whether they were simply given the name because it was nice
  • whether they were given the name for any other pertinent reason

We soon discovered that our youngsters have a wide range of reasons for their first names being what they are! Two were named after someone famous, two were named after relatives and one got their name because their mum just liked it.

We also spent time using online resources to find out about the origin of each of the names. We looked for

  • country of origin
  • whether it has different forms in different languages
  • whether there was any other information about the evolution of the name
  • what the name means

Again, pupils used MS Word to create a document containing all of this important information. We had lots of fun finding out about the origins of our names – one of us has a name meaning “lion”, another has a name meaning “king” and someone else has a name meaning “stretch of water”. We also discovered the name Fiona means “ogre from Shrek”…or something like that 😉

Our next task was to look at family coats of arms in a little more detail. Each pupil was asked to find out what components there were in their respective coat of arms. They were then asked to use this information in conjunction with information about their own interests and background to create a more modern coat of arms for themselves! Using an online software template to build our own coat of arms, each pupil came up with a colourful and meaningful emblem for themselves. They included

  • a coat of arms with a Tardis, Darth Vader, Irish emblems and green flashes
  • a coat of arms with a Playstation, a cat, Hearts badge and a hill
  • a coat of arms with X Factor symbols, musical connotations and a meadow
  • a coat of arms with a hammer, a Playstation and a television

Each coat of arms was then transformed using appropriate colours – if the name had Irish origins, for example, the pupils opted for green chevrons or flashes. We then stored them for inclusion in our final family tree…

This week the pupils are going to start digging a little deeper into their family histories. Using information we have about great grandparents and other relatives born or alive before 1911, we will be using the online resource to look further back into our family history. We will be trying to use birth records, census records, marriage records and death records to establish

  • where our ancestors lived
  • who they lived with
  • what they did for a living
  • what they were called

We will use this information to extend our current trees and create a better picture of where we came from… 


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