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Connection Corner

Family reunions can be a great time to learn about family members

family group hug

Summer can be a great time for family reunions and connecting with family members. Following an extended time of limited social gatherings and time apart, seeing family members face to face is especially meaningful this year. However, it takes some intentional planning to create opportunities for family members to share with each other. Michigan State University Extension shares some great reunion resources to promote sharing among family members.

  • Create fun name tags. Make the name tags colorful and include one piece of trivia that you prepare ahead of time or have them write on the day of the event. Why name tags? Even though you might remember all your cousin’s kids, aunts and uncles, others might not. Name tags break down an initial barrier of “just how are we connected?” and make conversations easier.
  • Story starters. Place a basket of story starters on tables that contain open-ended questions for everyone to share. Think about if you would feel comfortable responding to the question because you don’t want to have anyone feel uncomfortable when responding to a story starter. Some story starter suggestions include:
    • Tell us about going to first grade. Where did you live? Who were your friends?
    • What is your favorite dinner to enjoy on your birthday? What is your favorite birthday dessert or treat?
    • Growing up, what was your favorite holiday or family gathering?
    • What do you remember about your grandparents or another significant elder or adult?
    • Today, do you have any pets? Did you have any pets growing up?
  • Dots on a map of the world or globe. Ask everyone to put dots on where they live or have lived. Look at the migration of families.
  • Extra photos. When the family reunion is announced, ask everyone to bring extra or old photos. Use the photos as table decorations and then invite members to take home the extra pictures. Build on this by having to identify people by baby pictures, etc.



Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.


Connection Corner:  is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.