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Games and Activities

A Genealogist’s Favorite Game

Genealogist-turned-inventor Ernest A. Montemayor submitted this patent in 1976 for a game he simply called “Ancestry.” The object of the game was to use the male and female “Ancestor” cards and complete your family tree before the other players. Hello, family game night!

Tricks or Treats

No matter what it’s referred to as––Halloween, Hallowe’en, Allhalloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or even All Saints’ Eve––the holiday has a rich history rooted in American culture. Flip through some dusty, spooky records and test your knowledge of whatever you call it with our special quiz.

Show Your Support

The Presidential Libraries hold campaign memorabilia from U.S. political elections that show the many ways Americans express support for their political candidates. Among these election artifacts are campaign buttons. Pick a person or a cause that you truly believe in, use these instructions to create your own campaign button and then wear your support proudly!

Carving Out Time for Fun

It’s never too early to plan your Halloween jack-o’-lantern. For your pumpkin masterpiece 

this year, consider illuminating your love of history. Peruse these downloadable templates to carve a jack-o’-lantern that shows your love of the National Archives and American history.

Making a Difference

We’ve all heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the leaders of the 1963 March on Washington. But not much is known about those who made it happen behind-the-scenes, like these women who made 80,000 cheese sandwiches for the marchers. People can make a difference in big and small ways. Take a look at some examples of people making a difference with this matching game.

Sounds Like a New Invention

Is it just us, or does E.N. Sherr’s 1831 patent drawing for a guitar look more like a cello? If you could invent a new instrument, what would it be and why? Make a patent drawing for the groovy instrument of your own creation and find your unique sound.

Diplomatic Dragons

Once a top diplomat in China, President George H. W. Bush recognized the need for U.S. engagement abroad and spent his time there learning as much about the country as possible. And you can too with this game from the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. We challenge you to represent the U.S. as a diplomat and “do diplomacy” and “discover China” to help build connections between the two countries.

Don’t Be a Gossip

In 1950, many American women were working as secretaries. In fact, it was the number one job at the time. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training offered several training programs to those wishing to become secretaries. This personality assessment helped them determine whether they might be a good fit for the job. Do you think you could get above 80 percent?

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Wear It Proudly

In addition to signs and banners, another great way to support a cause is through the use of clothing. Many individuals demonstrated their commitment to the suffrage movement by wearing this kind of sash because purple, white and gold came to represent the movement in the United States. Click here to find out what the colors symbolize and to learn how to make your own suffrage sash!

My Family Tree

What better way to explore the foundation of our country than delving deeper into your own family history? You can use National Archives resources to do some research and help fill out your own downloadable family tree here.

Fun fact: Did you know that two First Ladies were born outside of the United States? Louisa Adams was born in England, and Melania Trump was born in Slovenia.

A Happy Camper

If you enjoy the great outdoors and like to camp, you will definitely want to make sure that you have a sturdy tent or, in this case, a Camping Lodge complete with four single bed racks and two double bed racks.

Check out more summertime utility patents in the Archives holdings!

DIY National Park

The National Park Service arrowhead emblem is a recognizable symbol. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice the many elements carefully selected to represent the resources that the Park Service protects: mountains, trees, lakes, bison and the arrowhead itself. Read more from the National Park Service on what these elements represent, and download this activity to create an emblem for your own park!

Hats at the Ready

In 1776, General George Washington ordered all military personnel to wear cockades as a way to differentiate officers. A cockade is a knot of ribbon with distinctive colors that is typically worn on a hat. Whether you’ll be sporting a baseball cap or a traditional tricorn hat, try your hand at making your own cockade.


(Founding) Father’s Day

Perhaps one of the ways our Founding Fathers made their kids the most proud was when they began the framework to America as we know it today. Complete this Prequel to Independence activity by sequencing key events leading up to the Declaration of Independence. Don’t worry if you get stumped! Join the National Archives in the Virtual Journey of the Declaration of Independence to learn and experience in real time what happened in 1776. And get ready for all the fun coming up with this year’s first-ever virtual July 4th celebration with the Archives!

A Civil Rights Investigation

Attention high school students: embark on a civil rights investigation with the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. In this interactive activity, you will become an FBI agent assigned with traveling to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers.

*Please note: this activity is appropriate for high school students. For activities related to rights and justice designed for younger audiences, please visit DocsTeach.

The Flying White House

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and you can actually step aboard the same Air Force One that flew President Reagan over 660,000 miles to 26 foreign countries and 46 U.S. states. This “Flying White House” served seven U.S Presidents, from President Nixon in 1973 to President Bush in 2001. Download these activities to test your knowledge of the airplane’s presidential history!

Air Force One 27000 is on loan from the United States Air Force.

Download Crossword Puzzle Download Word Search

From Black & White to Color

After giving you all that history on poppies, we want to make sure you have your own to show in honor of those who served our country. Get out your red crayons and markers to color this Clifford Berryman cartoon and patent for poppies from the Archives. Download and print below to add your red, white and blue artistic flare!

It’s National Poppy Day

Since World War I, red poppies have been a globally recognized symbol of the sacrifices made by members of the military. In many countries, red poppy pins are worn in November for Veterans Day. In the U.S., our tradition is a little different. We wear red poppies on Memorial Day to honor soldiers who have given their lives in service to our nation.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman was presented with a poppy pin to wear on Poppy Day.

President Truman served in the military himself. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1905 and continued as a member of the military until 1917.

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It’s All Fun and Games

Not so fast––school’s not out for the summer just yet, and it’s time for your history lesson. We promise it will be fun! Print out this board game to learn how laws are made and the role Congress plays in our government.


*Recommended for 7th-8th grade students

Get Coloring for Mom

Need to add some color to your Mother’s Day card? We’ve got you covered with this historical WWII poster and Clifford Kennedy Berryman cartoons you can use to spice up your cards for mom. #ColorOurCollections

Download Cartoons

No Funny Business, Nic Cage

More than 15 years ago, America embarked on a grand treasure hunt with Benjamin Franklin Gates. In the movie “National Treasure,” Gates finds himself at the National Archives stealing one of America’s most sacred documents––the Declaration of Independence. And ever since, the most frequently asked question for the Archives gang is whether there’s a treasure map on the back of the real Declaration. Here’s your answer straight from the experts:

Have a hunch you’re related to a Founding Father or other important historical figure just like Gates? Do some investigating of your own with our downloadable family tree activity.


Caption Contest: A Flash for Fala

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s dog Fala struck many poses during his White House career. What do you suppose he was thinking in this photo? We asked for your best submissions – stay tuned for the winner!

Countdown to Liftoff

Are you an aspiring astronaut who knows missions to the moon like the back of your hand? Put your moon boots on and try out this GIF-tastic sequencing game brought to you by historic Archives footage! Take your best shot at putting these GIFs in order of a mission to the moon, from astronaut training to blast off and landing. Put a number next to each letter and re-order these images.













And, if mazes are your space jam, download these a-MAZE-ing activities from NASA to celebrate the many accomplishments of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Color Me Crazy

Over the years, inventors have patented some seriously offbeat ideas. From protective goggles for chickens to robot roller coasters and one wheeled vehicles, give these ideas the fanfare they deserve by adding a splash of color. Download the Archives coloring book and get started today!

Want some more fun activities for the whole family to enjoy? We have games, puzzles and more at the National Archives Store! Our eccentric collection is ready to ship, so don’t wait weeks for your new game for family time. Shop today!

Have a Green Thumb?

If you have a knack for gardening, we encourage you to get out there and plant those seeds. But for those of us who’d rather use our minds than our thumbs, we have just the game for you. Solve these plant riddles from an 1865 book in the Archives holdings. Extra points for gardening and solving these retro riddles — grow big or go home!

The Game of Planting

The answer to each riddle will be the name of a plant, tree or flower. For example, to the question, “Plant a kiss. What will come up?” The correct answer is, “tulips.” See what we did there? Quiz your family and friends with these fun riddles!

  • 1. Plant cold weather. What will come up? Furze
  • 2. Plant a clock. What will come up? Thyme
  • 3. Plant books. What will come up? A reed
  • 4. Plant the hand. What will come up? A palm
  • 5. Plant two porcupines. What will come up? A prickly pear
  • 6. Plant a beehive. What will come up? Honeysuckle


Friday Photo Challenge

Historical photographs can tell us a lot about people and places from our past! Can you put your thinking cap on and analyze the who, what, when and where of this photograph of Alison Turnbull Hopkins? Download the worksheet below to help get you started then click on the image and complete this week’s challenge!

Download Activity
Or complete the online version on DocsTeach!

National Archives & Records Administration Photograph 306-N-70-2641

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