0 comments / Posted by Kay Chance

Timelines are a great tool for teaching history, pulling together a variety of topics, and organizing studies. Your children from elementary through high school can benefit from using them in a variety of ways.

The Framework Approach

We sometimes forget that children don't think in the same way adults do!

As adults, we have a better sense of time, so it’s logical for us to put people and events along a chronological timeline. However, developmentally, children don't have the same concept of time. (Just think about how you view waiting for Christmas to arrive as an adult versus when you were little!)

We like how Dr. Ruth Beechick approaches using timelines with younger learners in her book, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully.

“For children, timelines are not for pulling together the scattered pieces of knowledge…children haven’t yet collected enough pieces to pull together. What timelines can do for children is to provide a framework into which they can put pieces of knowledge as they learn them. For this framework purpose, timelines should be very simple—so simple that children can memorize them.”

Did you catch that? Timelines can be used as a framework to put pieces of knowledge together as it is learned. She goes on to share this simple framework for studying American history:

  • Exploration and Discovery
  • Colonizing
  • Revolutionary Period
  • Young Republic & Westward Expansion
  • Civil War and Reconstruction
  • The Rise of Industrial America
  • Two World Wars
  • Modern America

How to Use a Framework Approach in Your Studies

You can create a framework like the one above on a poster, in a notebook, or on our Timeline of History.

Our Timeline of History has two sides. Side one is dated from 4000 BC to 2050 AD, and side two is undated for in-depth studies of any time period. The undated side is perfect for this framework approach.

Then, students fill in the timeline throughout their studies for the unit, semester, or year with names of people and events along with pictures or symbols to represent them. They can either draw their own, or they can use pre-drawn timeline figures perfect for cutting out and easily adding to the timeline. We offer both historical timeline figures as well as Bible ones.

With younger students, don’t worry about trying to space everything out exactly. It’s more about seeing related events in order under the major topics.

Think of frameworks as a way to focus on a particular subject. The framework we used as an example was for studying American history, but there are so many options. It can be a broad or a narrow topic. Here are a few ideas:

  • Exploration, settlement, and progress of America as in our Trail Guide to Learning series
  • Artists or musicians as a part of your fine arts curriculum
  • Old or New Testament history for Bible study
  • Scientific developments as a part of your science curriculum
  • History of a specific place—whether it’s the city or state you live in or a country you are learning about in geography

This framework is perfect for younger students developmentally, but it’s also extremely beneficial for older students too as they study specific threads of history, events, or subjects.

The Chronological Approach

As students mature, they’ll be able to make more sense out of a traditional, chronological timeline approach. As they study different people and events, they can place them on the timeline so they can see the relationships between them.

Whereas a framework approach will focus on something specific, a chronological timeline might include leaders, artists, inventors, and more. It might include historical events as well as when certain works of art were popular. Using this visual approach helps students understand the connections between history, science, and the arts—between leaders, ordinary people, and the events that shaped their lives.

How to Use a Chronological Approach

Much like the framework approach, your students will add names and events to their timeline using words and pictures or symbols. This one is more structured, though. They will write specific dates for each person or event and should be more careful about spacing between these things so they get a better visual representation of the time.

Often chronological timelines that you add to over multiple semesters or years are more general in nature…though you can combine both the focus of a framework approach with the details of a chronological timeline.

Here’s where the versatility of our Timeline of History is so helpful. Students can either hang it on a wall or fold one for their notebooks to pull out as needed since it comes in either paper, laminated, or laminated and folded. With the side that is dated, they can add to it as they study different people and events. It can even be cut into strips and taped together to form twenty-one linear feet of history!

Check Out Our Timeline Resources!

Whatever the ages of your children, both framework and chronological timelines can provide a useful, visual tool for their studies.

We’ve put together a couple of different resource sets to help you save money and time.

The Timeline Bundle includes our Bible Timeline Figures, Historical Timeline Figures, plus a folded, laminated Timeline of History.

The Timeline Package features digital downloads of our Historical Timeline Figures and Bible Timeline Figures, the folded Timeline of History, and all three volumes of Profiles from History. These books are filled with the stories of people, whose lives are worth remembering. Whether they made a discovery, led heroically in a war, created a masterpiece through music or art, used a pen to change the world, or impacted humanity with their bravery—they made a difference. We can learn so much by looking at those who came before us.

Help your kids make connections. Help them see history come alive by using timelines!


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing