Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our History Timeline

We just recently finished the Story of the World Ancient Times text, instead of moving straight to Story of the World Medieval Times we decided to take the summer off and instead explore the historical sites around us.  With the warmer weather it just felt like the perfect time to start doing some history field trips. There are several sites near our house that pertain to the American Revolution and seemed tailor made for some educational outings. I however felt that the significance would be lost on our daughters (10 and 7) without some sort of  unit study on the American Revolution before visiting the sites.

 This is where it gets complicated. We are jumping some 1200 years into the future from where we left off in our history text. That has to be confusing for the kids. While trying to figure out how I was going to make this the easiest for them to understand I stumbled onto the idea of a timeline. How simple was that?! Problem solved! Oh........wait...........where do I put this timeline? In their notebooks? Well yeah you CAN but when I looked at the timelines people were making the papers for the timeline took up an entire 3 ring binder and had to be stretched across the floor every time you wanted to look at them. That wasn't going to work. I didn't want to have to drag a book out, clear out the space on the floor, and then fight the little kids wanting to walk on it every time the kids wanted to see the timeline. I needed something simpler. That was when I found a blog with a wall timeline. I was sold!

We are in the process of packing up our house to move however since we are military the move is more than a little uncertain. We have been "about to move" for 6mths at this point and no actual date for a move has arrived. So while we wait for official word we have started doing things like taking pictures down off the walls, packing the little nicknacks, etc. This meant I had tons of room on my walls for a giant timeline. I picked a wall in the living room that is clearly visible from the couch, where we just might do more than a fair share of our school time. I wanted the kids to be able to glance up when they hear a date and get a feel for where it falls on the timeline.  In a perfect world I would have done this BEFORE starting our history lessons but hey better late than never right?

Pretty bleak right? Yeah....I promise it looked a lot better a few months ago! That is Ralph the therapy bunny in the hutch I am sure he loved me taking his picture while he did his business in his litter box. Poor guy, so misunderstood.

Okay back to topic. I got out my hand dandy ruler, the "ugly" construction paper my kids refuse to use for their projects, my laminator, a pencil, and permanent marker. I first cut the paper down to a length that would fit in my lamination sheets, about 1/2in off the length. Then I drew strips as wide as my ruler (about 1.5 inches). Once I had a whole sheet of strips drawn I used it as a template to cut out 5 sheets at once, repeating as many times as necessary to get the desired number of strips.

I used green for 5000 BC to 1 BC, orange for O AD to 1799AD, and brown for 1800AD to present.

Once I had all my strips cut out, which only took me about 20min from start to finish, I started writing the dates on them. I started at 5000BC and then wrote the next date on the end of the next strip so when they were put together they made a cohesive time line. I counted down from 5000BC by 500's until I reached 1000BC. At that point I started counting down by 100's. When I reached 0 AD I again began counting in 100's until I reached 1000AD. From that point forward I counted in 50's until 1800 AD, where I started counting in 25 year increments till the present time.  Clear as mud?

After I had all the strips numbered I laminated them and got to work lining them up on the wall. I am pretty sure I drove my husband and older daughter nuts with this part of the project. I don't know how many times I asked "is it straight?" only to hear "it is FINE" back. Maybe Ralph the bunny isn't the only one who is misunderstood. It still isn't straight and it is driving me just a tiny bit nuts. I will deal with it however. If you are as OCD as I am you will want to use a laser level for this part. I had my oldest daughter hand me the strips in order. It was a good reinforcement for her on the difference in recording time between BC and AD. She was thrown a bit when I reminded her that we start with the largest number in BC and then count down to 0 only to count back up again in AD. We covered that as part of our history unit but you know how it goes, in one ear and out the other if they don't have a concrete use for the knowledge right that second.

Once the strips were all up on the wall I took our clear packing tape and went over the bottom  three rows. I have 6 children.......4 of those are under the age of 5. They touch things. You get the idea.

After I was positive that the kids couldn't come along behind me and rip down my hard work I moved on to making the photos to place on the timeline. I went through our Story of the World text and pulled out the major historical points. Once I had the topics I wanted to represent and the dates associated with them I began working on finding images to match. I really thought that it would be difficult but I found this wonderful clip art site that has images for everything you can imagine. If you are a true history buff I am sure you will want to use real images, but since my children are younger I was fine with cartoon  images. We just made a word document with the images, printed, labeled them on the back with the names and dates, and laminated them. That way when we do move they will be simple to put in the correct position at the next house.

I had my girls help me put the finished pictures up on the timeline. It was a good review for them over what we studied last semester. There was a lot of "oh yeah, I remember him" so at least they were kind of paying attention! It is looking pretty bare at the moment but I am sure we will fill it up quickly as we continue our studies. I am loving that we can use it for ALL of our studies not just history. Talk about a famous scientist? Add them to the wall. Read a non-fiction book about a topic that interests you? Add it to the wall. I would also like to add the pictures of the kids to their birth year at some point so they can see where they fall on the time line.

I really am looking forward to using this timeline in our studies!

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