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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time Lines

I love history.  It is my favorite subject because it encompasses nearly all others.  One of the most effective ways of cementing historical people and events in the mind of a learner is through the use of a time line.

For example, we are studying the decade of the 1880's.  (Because history rarely defines itself in neat, ten year increments, I added five years to the front and back of that decade.  It gives us a little more wiggle room.)  Our family knows the Little House on the Prairie stories.  If they know that Laura was a child when the Kodak camera was invented, when Garfield was assassinated, and when Krakatoga blew creating a tsunami that killed over 36,000 people, then those seemingly random events gain meaning.  When we study Edison and Bell with a time line, we can see that they were contemporaries, but they were twenty years away from the Wright brother's feats.  And knowing that Mark Twain was writing about Jim it was only a dozen or so years after the Civil War, clarifies the racial prejudice outlined in Tom Sawyer.

If your house is like mine, you already have maps and letters and bookshelves filling up your walls.  Where do you put a time line?  Especially one that includes world and US history, literature, science and inventions, math and anything else that you could want to place.  Here is one idea for you.

I took a roll of simple ticker tape

and drew lines the thickness of my ruler.

The children folded the ticker tape on the lines, accordion style, and wrote the year on the line.

Folded, it only takes up a small space.

Once it's unfolded, you can see history happening.  This is a newly made timeline, so we only have a couple of events, but we plan to fill it over the next few weeks.

Using different colors for different topics (Blue = US history, Green = Inventions, Orange = World History, Math = Purple, etc.).  As we study a topic, we put it on our timeline.  Today we studied decimals and the base ten Metric System (LeGrange lived during this time).  By relating decimals to the invention of Coca-Cola to Nellie Oleson, memory connections are sure to be stronger than if we had just learned how to figure decimals.

Try using this small time line tool to make history come alive in your home school.

By the way, this is a great resource for creating your curriculum based on a time line.


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