Sunday, October 7, 2012
First Grade in Our Home: Timelines
I knew going into this year that I wanted to start some kind of visual history record with the children, but I was really on the fence about how I wanted to it to look and work. I'm leaving the true Book of Centuries for their later elementary years or beyond, so I wanted something more like a timeline. But I wanted it to be simple. If they had to draw a picture for each entry, it would probably add another thirty minutes onto our school week! Thirty fun minutes perhaps--at least at first--but I have the feeling that it would quickly begin to feel like busywork...and my kids hate busywork. I definitely didn't want our timeline to become a major project that I was going to basically be completing myself. I also wanted something each of the children would do individually--a family timeline sounds fun, but I have several other littles in line after these first two go through the readings, and I felt like there wouldn't be much to add if we were all sharing a timeline. So: something easy, simple, CM-friendly, able to be done by a child on his own, and useful in providing a good start toward understanding how the various events and figures in history relate to one another in the span of time? I couldn't seem to find an easy method that would meet all those criteria, so we started the school year without and I kept thinking.
Then I came across the wall timeline Jennifer had designed for her children at Joyful Shepherdess, and it seemed to fit all I had in mind. I wasn't looking for a wall timeline, though, so I made a smaller version--one to fit in each child's school binder. I divided a sheet of paper vertically into three columns, then copied the template onto seven sheets of plain cardstock, printing on both front and back. Then I labeled the columns by century, starting from the 21st century BC and ending with the 21st century AD, just as Jennifer did. Then hole-punched and popped them into the binders--done!
The next day, they began their entries. We're keeping it very simple: just a list of names and a few dates, no drawings or narrations (unless they want to--that will be up to them). And we're not entering all the people and events we read about--just the ones that stick out in the children's minds. It takes just a few minutes each Friday to make a couple entries.
Right now, we're playing a bit of catch-up; we just finished Term 1, so we're working now to get current for the start of Term 2. But so far, I think this is a great method for us! My children were surprised to see Laura Ingalls Wilder, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Camille Saint-Saens in the same column, three figures from their studies that they hadn't connected at all. They were also surprised to see just how long Rome spent trying to conquer Britain! The best part about this method is it was so simple and can easily be changed out or altered later on--no big upfront costs or time. So thank you, Jennifer, for the idea!