While young children do not necessarily have a mature concept of time, they do understand the progression of basic life events: birth and school as children, marriage and having children as adults, death (usually) as an older person. I wanted to create a fun, hands-on way to teach my son about one of his ancestors using a timeline. So, we created a shoe box timeline. Here are the materials you will need:
- Empty shoe box with lid.
- Exacto knife or sharp scissors that will cut through the shoe box.
- White paper
- Markers or crayons
- Family documents and/or photos pertaining to one ancestor
First, you will need to use the knife or scissors to cut a 'window' into the shoe box. (Definitely a job for the adult!). The lid to your box should look something like this when you are done:
On the box itself, you will need to either lift the side flaps on the lid (as I did in the photo above), OR remove the side flaps of the lid all together, so that the paper can easily slip through. You will also have to tape the box lid to the main part of the box, otherwise it will fall forward when you set it on its side like this.
The next step will be to choose an ancestor for the timeline. Because it was Memorial Day, I suggested to my son that we use my maternal grandfather who was a WWII veteran. I got out my laptop and showed my son some photos of his great-grandfather. First, we talked about when he was born. For each life event, I wrote down the year in which it occurred, and my son wrote it on the picture he drew for that event. Even just writing the years down can teach kids a lot about the past and the passage of time; my son will be writing '20**' on his school papers and emails and work reports for the rest of his life - I'm pretty sure that, before this, he didn't realize what years really looked like before the year 2000.
My grandfather's birth: I told my son he had six older siblings when he was born, so he drew people to represent them all.