One of our social studies objectives is for the kids to understand the passage of time, and how this is reflected through life events. We usually accomplish this both through daily calendar activities and investigations of timelines.
One thing that has made a huge impact in terms of helping my students understand timelines is our class timeline. We begin the timeline during the first week of school, and throughout the year we add icons to represent major events. Since we are already counting to the 100th day, this is a simple addition. As we move along, we mark other events. The kids always look forward to adding a cupcake for their own birthday. We add field trips, special visitors, holiday celebrations, and other notable events.
By the end of the year, my kids definitely understand the purpose of a timeline, and they are very good at discussing the sequencing of events throughout the year. In essence, they have learned to “read” the timeline. This is when I assign a homework assignment for my students to create a timeline of their own lives.
I make the assignment a two part project. The first part is to make a list (with their parents’ help) of ten notable events in their lives. I encourage them to pick things that were important, even if they were not happy (of course, happy events are great too!). This list they can keep at home. It will just be a tool for them to use in the second part of the project.
I then show them my timeline. We all know that our lives are fascinating to our students. They love hearing about the important events I chose to highlight from my life.
The second part involves the actual creation of their timeline. They can use real photographs or student drawings. They can use actual dates, approximations, or even ages on the timeline. Then, as the students bring their work to school, they can share their timeline with the class. This is a great chance for them to speak about themselves in front of others, and I encourage the other students to ask questions.
This project does not have to be homework. In years passed we have had reading buddies from an older grade, and this was a wonderful thing to have them work on together. I still had the kids make a list at home with their parents, but the reading buddies then worked with their kindergartner on sequencing, writing, and drawing. It was always wonderful to see how they shared the work and created a collaborative project.
If you are interested in trying this timeline project with your students, you can download the timeline paper I created for my students for free. It is two pages, which I usually copy on card stock. I then simply tape the card stock together to create the length for the timeline.
I love that this project helps my students understand our social studies objective, but also gives them an opportunity to share about important and meaningful events in their lives! How do you teach your students about the passage of time?