How to Get the Scoop on Fun Family Stories: Investigative Reporting for Kids

Do your children ever wonder what kids did for fun before video games existed?

Would they love to dish the dirt on their dad’s antics as an adolescent?

Or discover connections and commonalities between themselves and folks four or five times their age—or more?

You can help your kids become family history reporters and uncover secrets and surprises of the generations before them.

In this article I’ll show you how to turn your next family gathering into an information treasure hunt where your kids collect intriguing facts about their relatives and create a news video to share their stories.

How to turn your next family gathering into a treasure hunt where kids collect intriguing facts about relatives and create a news video for their stories.

Why talk to Grandma? A new way to relate.

I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite childhood memories include listening to my father and his four brothers tell stories about growing up on the family farm.

Our family picnics and holiday meals were filled with laughter as they told us about their scavenger hunts and adventures.

Do you have similar memories?

Do your kids?

Children are innately curious. They love to ask questions, gather information and find out “why?” But even when surrounded by family they don’t see very often, kids frequently fall back upon what they already know, what’s comfortable.

They’ll text faraway friends to ask, “What’s up?” instead of talking to the aunts, uncles and grandparents sitting in the living room. They’ll join in a video game filled with familiar fictional characters before playing a real-live game with unfamiliar cousins they haven’t seen in a while.

Maybe this will help.

This presentation from shows how to conduct a family interview in detail. I’ll give you the basics for kids in this article.

By giving your kids a few simple tools—an alternative to video games and texting—they can act as reporters for the day and use their natural curiosity to uncover the stories that make their family special; the stories that will fill their own memories of family picnics and holiday meals with laughter.

You Will Need

  • Family Reporter Checklist (PDF) or notebook paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Willing family member
  • Video recording device (camera, cell phone, computer/tablet, etc.)

    your supplies

    Your supplies.

Preparation Time

Approximately 30 minutes to print the Family Reporter Checklist, think of the family member to interview and prepare questions

Activity Time

Approximately 30 minutes to conduct an interesting interview with the family member, 10 minutes to prepare for the video interview and 2-5 minutes to record your news story


Any family gathering—picnic, party, holiday meal, vacation, etc.

Fortunately, our family is full of skillful storytellers. We have heard about everything from favorite family pets stealing holiday meals to car repair projects going horribly wrong. In the process, my boys have shared special times with relatives learning about their family history.

But to get them to sit down with their elders and have those crucial conversations in the first place is the hard part.

family members

It is nice to find family members with similar interests and skills.

This Family Reporter project will help break the ice. It will give kids a reason to approach their grandparents or aunts and uncles and a way to take the lead in asking questions to uncover fun facts and stories and record their unique family history.

#1: Select a Family Member to Interview

Family gatherings are a great opportunity for kids to spend time with relatives they don’t see on a regular basis. And they’re the perfect place to put kids’ curiosity and investigative skills to work!

Before your family get-together, choose someone to interview. Talk about who will be in attendance and have your kids think about which relatives they’d like to get to know better.

select family member

Everyone has an interesting story to tell. Help your kids dig them up.

Make a few recommendations based on what you know. Perhaps your cousin and your son share a passion for history, or maybe your aunt always wanted to be a veterinarian and your daughter is crazy about animals.

You could also suggest that your children spend time with a family member they’re not very close to or haven’t had the opportunity to get to know.

No matter how well your child thinks he or she already knows the selected relative, the goal is to learn something new and uncover some interesting stories from each person interviewed.

Do you have a bunch of kids at your family gathering? Assign each child a different relative and see what great stories they uncover from the whole family.

#2: Prepare for the Interview

A professional reporter must be prepared. Your kids should do some research and planning before the “on air” interview takes place.

prepare for the interview

Remember to think of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions.

Many reporters carry around a small notebook to gather data and jot down questions they plan to ask the interviewee. During the interview, they make notes about the topics discussed. After the interview, they use their notes to shape the story they want to share.

family reporter checklist

Print this Family Reporter Checklist to document your findings and create a unique keepsake.

The Family Reporter Checklist (PDF) is a guide to help your kids prepare for their family interviews. Print it out and have your children read through the questions and think about what they’ll ask during their interviews.

#3: Ask Great Questions

Every family has wonderful stories family members can share with the younger generations. The key is to get people talking. To do that, ask great questions.

Encourage your kids to ask questions about the things they find most interesting. Topics may include sports and hobbies, childhood experiences, career choices, travel, favorite family memories, hopes and dreams, etc.

At the risk of personal embarrassment, have kids ask about things their parents did as children.

ask good questions

A good discussion includes active listening, good eye contact and follow-up questions.

The goal is to uncover previously unknown facts and stories, so encourage children to ask interesting and compelling questions.

Remind children to listen closely and ask follow-up questions if they don’t understand something. The best stories often come out after a follow-up question, so prompt them to dig deeper and get below the surface.

Kids should use the Family Reporter Checklist during the conversation to take notes and make sure no questions are skipped.

#4: Report and Record the Story

After your budding reporter has gathered all of the facts, it’s time to produce a video worthy of the evening news (or at least YouTube).

Check out the fun one we found on YouTube.

To record a great news story, have your child:

  • Select a favorite fact or story from the discussion
  • Create an attention-grabbing headline
  • Prepare a short (3- to 4-sentence) introduction for the story
  • Think of 2-3 questions to ask during the “on air” interview

Remember to keep the video short and to the point.

First, use a smartphone, camera or computer/tablet to record a short clip of your child delivering the headline and introducing the story.

Next, record a 1- to 2-minute video interview with the family member who’s the source of the story. Your reporter should ask questions that lead the interviewee directly into the details of their funny or intriguing news story.


Be sure to speak clearly and focus on your subject during the interview.

If the story your subject tells is about another family member, it’s fun to record a quick reaction or counterpoint from that person, too.

Your kids can edit the video with graphics, text or music if you’d like. A list of apps for simple video editing can be found here (this is optional). An impromptu “live on-scene” interview can be just as entertaining as an edited one.

#5: Share Your Family Findings

It’s time to go on the air and share all the wonderful family stories your kids have collected.

The tales that have been told may be new to many of the adults at your gathering, so share these great adventures with the whole family and make some new memories in the process!

sharing stories

Siblings and cousins will have fun sharing their news stories with each other and with the rest of the family.

After the meal or main activity, gather everyone around to watch the videos together.

If possible, broadcast the videos on a TV or computer screen so everyone can watch together. If you don’t have the equipment for that, have each child take his or her recording device around to small groups to share the stories.

After everyone has seen the “news reports,” take a little time to talk and laugh about the interesting family facts discovered and shared by your young investigative reporters.

Some Final Thoughts

During a recent family beach vacation, my boys interviewed my sister-in-law. They learned some fascinating facts about their favorite aunt, but they also heard a few new funny stories about their dad! I’m excited they will be able to carry those memories with them forever.

spend time with family

Family vacations are a great way to spend time together and record family stories.

Holiday parties and family gatherings are the perfect time to pass down interesting family stories. Make these events even more memorable by encouraging the younger generation to help preserve and share unique family histories and even make new memories in the process.

What do you think? Which family member would your child like to get to know better? We’d love to hear about the fun ways you’ve encouraged your kids to connect with their older relatives. Please share your stories and pictures in the comments below.

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About the Author, Susan Williams

Susan is always looking for ways to bring learning to life for her two curious boys. She writes about their learning adventures at and shares literature resources at Other posts by »

  • Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Susan! What a great way to help kids approach their relatives and dig up family stories. I was really shy as a kid. An “assignment” like this would have helped me learn a lot more about my grandparents before they were gone. Can’t wait to suggest this to my boys.

  • Susan F Williams

    Hi Jennifer — I hope your boys have with this activity! Being able to have interactions between the generations recorded in this way will make for some amazing keepsakes. Enjoy!!

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  • Susan F Williams

    Thanks Olena, Hopefully this will help the time go by faster for the children as they wait for the big holiday meal!

  • Olena Centeno

    It definitely will!

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  • Susan Merrill

    Great way to preserve memories — especially during the holidays. :-)

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