Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Home Timelines



After last week’s inspiring parent training about history and literature, you may be wanting to boost your home learning time by incorporating a home timeline. Using a timeline at home helps kids connect the dots as we study different events and people in history, gives them a visual connection to the stories, and helps us parents keep the big picture in mind. There are many different types of timelines out there - here are a few ideas to consider:

(click to enlarge)

1. A fantastic way to make an interactive timeline is to use cards (3x5 or 4x6 index cards, or 5x8 half sheets of cardstock). Each card has a picture of an event or person, which the kids can draw or you can find and print. On the back write the dates and any other information about it if you desire. Hang the cards clothes-line style across the wall (or this wire system from IKEA works great for this, if you happen to be going...). This allows you to move the pictures around, or add others in between easily. The best part is that you can take the cards down and play with them, like having your kids put them in order. A game idea Mr. Wathen shared with us last Monday evening is to hold up a card and ask your student, “Tell me one thing that happened before this, and one thing that happened after this.” 

2. If you don’t have wall space, you could make a timeline that can be rolled up like a scroll and brought out to roll across the floor. This style of timeline also works well vertically on a wall if you have a tall, narrow space.

3. If you DO have the space, making a large timeline across the wall is a fun way to give history a prominent space and allows kids to draw larger pictures.

4. File folders can be used to make an accordion-style timeline. 

5. Wall chart timelines are popular and it’s easy to make your own with poster board, display boards, or a large piece of paper. 


Our very own Intermediate teacher, Mrs. Milligan, loves to use timelines in many different ways in her classroom. There is the large timeline that goes around the top of her room that shows the order of civilizations from Mesopotamia to modern day. She uses a smaller timeline in the class to track some of the themes of history   specific to our year of study. She says it’s the best way for her to keep track of things as she teaches, and having the children participate in the creation of it adds to their understanding of the big picture.

For parents at home, she recommends simply using a piece of butcher paper to make a more specific timeline to track themes that interest your child and/or your family as a whole. For instance, you may want to have a sheet that simply places the heroes of our country in order. (There are some great character qualities to draw attention to this year!) Maybe you want another sheet to track the events that led to the formation of our US government. Other great themes are scientific discoveries, explorers, great women, famous artists and composers… the possibilities are endless.  
   
If the idea of making a timeline sounds daunting, remember that it doesn’t need to be fancy or include every single event that ever happened. It just needs to be useful to you and your child. To start, try adding one item each week, and see what happens. The most important thing is to be excited about it and treat it as a fun project, so that your kids catch on to your enthusiasm. Remember, useful learning tools are not always pretty!  


Do you keep a home timeline, or are you planning to start one this year? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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