Genealogy activity - Step 2 of 3 in the "1-2-3 GO!" series

Provided by the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS), Victoria, BC, Canada


A family tree is a chart that shows the members of your family. Family trees can be drawn in several different shapes and can show different numbers of generations.

You will be creating a family tree that shows your ancestors - the people from whom you are directly descended such as your parents and grandparents. There are other types of family trees showing the descendants of a person. Your grandfather’s Descendants Tree would show all of his children and grandchildren including you.

A generation is a group of people born about the same time and related to a person at the same level – for example your parents are one generation and your grandparents are another generation.

To make your family tree you need to collect information about the members of your family. You may already have some of this information from the activity Talk to Your Family First!.

For each person in the family you need to know:

It may not be possible to get all of this information about everyone, and of course some of the people are still alive.



There are two types of Family Tree Charts to choose from.  The Fan Chart is the simplest. You can look at both and choose which one you want to use. There are separate instructions for each type.

My Family Fan Chart - thumbnail ancestor chart thumbnail
1. "My Family" Fan Chart
On the  site,
R click and choose "print"
2. Ancestor Chart
Download this .pdf file, then print




Option 1 - Use the Fan Chart Called "My Family"

  1. Download and print the "My Family" Fan Chart, courtesy of
  2. Put your full name (Given names and surname or family name) and birth date and place in the centre circle.
  3. Fill in the names of your father and mother with their birth dates in the spaces next to the circle. Remember to use your mother’s birth name! You can write the marriage date in each space or you can write it across the line between their spaces.
  4. Above your father’s space write the names and dates for his parents. Do the same for the parents of your mother.
  5. For each of your grandparents fill in the information about their parents. These are your great-grandparents.
Things to think about

All of the people in the rings outside your circle are your ancestors. Your father’s ancestors are all of the people in the rings outside his space on his side of the fan. Your mother’s ancestors are on her side of the fan.

Descendants are a person’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Your mother is a descendant of her parents and grandparents just as you are a descendant of everyone else in the fan.

A grandparent is two generations farther out on the fan. Can you find your father’s grandparents?

A grandchild is two generations farther in on the fan. Your mother is a grandchild to which people?

Option 2 - Use the Ancestor Chart

This is the type of chart that many family history researchers use to record their information.

  1. Download and print the Ancestor Chart, courtesy of the Victoria Genealogical Society.
  2. Where it says "Me", write your full name and your birth date and place. Siblings are people with the same parents. If you have brothers or sisters list them under the heading "Siblings". List them in order from oldest to youngest.
  3. Fill in the full name and birth date and place for your father. Do the same for your mother. Their marriage date and place can be written under your father’s birth date.
  4. Your father’s parents are your paternal grandparents. Follow the arrows from your father’s name to find where to enter his parents’ information.
  5. Your maternal grandparents are your mother’s parents. Follow the arrows from her name and enter their information.
  6. Fill in the information for as many of the parents of your grandparents as you can. These are your great-grandparents.
Things to think about

People in the chart may be directly related by birth or related by marriage. Direct relations by birth are those where you can move left or right along the arrows. Your mother’s mother is directly related by birth to you but she is not directly related by birth to your father.

Everyone to the right of you in the chart is your ancestor. For everyone in the chart, direct relations to the right of them in the chart are their ancestors. For example: great-grandfather #10 is an ancestor of your father but he is not ancestor of your mother.

Descendants are a person’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on. You are a descendant of everyone on the chart. Your mother is a descendant of everyone on the bottom half of the chart. Descendants are direct relations by birth.

A grandparent is a direct relation two generations to the right on the chart. Can you find the grandparents of your mother?

A grandchild is a direct relation two generations to the left on the chart. Who is a grandchild of person #11?



When you have finished your Family Tree you might want to look at the activity Who Is Missing From The Family Tree?.

 More fun is ahead!  The next genealogy activity in this "1-2-3 GO!" series is My Own Time Machine.


Download a printer friendly version of this Grow Your Family Tree activity sheet in PDF format.