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Exploring History: My Life Timeline Activity

This activity for kids helps your child understand the importance of historical events, and how to sequence important events througout history.
Exploring History: My Life Timeline Activity

Exploring History: My Life Timeline Activity

One of the hardest things for a child to grasp about history is that at some time or another, all those historical events were the present. Not to mention that at the time, people probably didn't know they were making history! Your child, too, has a history marked by important events. Making a My Life Timeline can help her see that, even in her short life, she has accomplished great things.

Keep in mind that children who were adopted can find sometimes personal timelines challenging, but you can adapt the activity to make it easier. Instead of starting at birth, use the more general terms of "past" and "present."" Your child can choose what events are significant in her personal history without the pressure of knowing the details of the time before she was adopted.

Skills Being Practiced

  • Sequencing
  • Historical perspective
  • Expository writing

What You Need

  • Long roll of paper (or many pieces of paper taped together to create one piece) approximately 10 feet long
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Index cards
  • Ruler
  • Pictures of your child throughout her lifetime

What to Do

1. Give your child a bunch of index cards, and tell her that you are going to help her think of some of the most memorable or important events in her life. Ask her to write her birth date on the first index card. If you remember what day of the week it was, tell her and have her add that information to the card as well. This will be her starting card, which she can label with "I was born!" or a similar statement.
2. Ask her to think of other important or big events in her life, like when her siblings were born, her first day of school, her first family vacation, or anything else that stands out in her mind. For now it does not matter whether or not the events are in order.
3. Help her work her way up to the present, writing each event on a separate index card with a short description of the event.
4. When she is finished, ask her to lay the index cards on the floor or another large work surface. Have her sequence the events from left to right, beginning with the day she was born and working to the present. It may be hard for your child to remember exactly when an event occurred. In order to sequence correctly, she may need your help in identifying when an event happened. Once she has that information, have her add it to the card, and remind her that when she sequences, she needs to pay attention to month, as well as year.
5. Once the cards are laid out in a line, help your child go through old photos to find one that matches each event. If you can't find one, don't worry about it too much. She can always draw a picture to illustrate the event.
6. Gather the cards and pictures in a pile, keeping them in timeline order.
7. Lay the long piece of paper horizontally on a hard, flat work surface. Help your child use a ruler and a pencil to draw a horizontal line across the middle of the paper.
8. Starting at left side of the paper, have your child draw a 1" vertical line upward from the middle line to mark the day she was born. Show her how to write the date above that line and a short description of the day or event.
9. Move her to the very end of the paper, and have her make a 1" vertical line upward to mark today. Have her write the date above the line, her age, and a little bit about herself right now.
10. Place the sequenced index cards in between those two dates, and ask your child to make a line for each one. Make sure she writes the date and a description of each "historical" event.
11. Help her match up and place the pictures in the correct spots under the horizontal line. Glue the pictures in place.
12. Give your child some markers to either trace the information she has already written, or to decorate her timeline.

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