How to draw an extended family tree

family tree image by Judy Ben Joud from

Making family trees is usually an exercise in memory and a lesson in history. It can be complicated, especially if you include extended family in the tree. However, not only do large family trees make good keepsakes for future generations, they help people understand where they come from and make good tools for connecting distant relations. They can also make good research tools when searching for ancestors, especially if they are as complete as possible. Including aunts, uncles and cousins at least on the family tree, as well as both the maternal and paternal sides of the family, means that family trees can get quite extensive; organisation and planning are key to creating a good extended family tree.

Write down all of the family members you plan to include on your family tree, beginning with the youngest member and ending with the oldest. Write married couples next to each other and their children right below them.

Count the number of men and the number of women to go into your tree. Trace and cut out as many blue squares as you need for men and as many pink circles as you need for women. Write the names of your family members on the squares and circles along with birth and death dates.

Arrange the loose circles and squares on the poster board. Place the youngest family member at the bottom. If that member has siblings, arrange them in a horizontal line with the youngest family member with the eldest sibling at the left and the youngest at the right. If any of these members have spouses, place them next to the appropriate name.

Place the name of the youngest family member's parents above the child and his siblings. Include both parents' siblings by arranging them slightly above the parents. Place the siblings' spouses next to them and their children directly below in vertical lines.

Arrange the grandparents for both sides above the parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Continue Step 4 until all family members are included, arranging and rearranging until you are able to fit everyone. Glue the shapes to the board, and use a ruler and pen to connect everyone appropriately.

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