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Activity

Creating Family Timelines

 

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Creating Family Timelines

Grades 3 – 5
Activity Time 2 to 4 hours, depending on the methods used to make the family timeline, can be completed over the course of several days
Activity Author

Jaime R. Wood

Jaime R. Wood

Portland, Oregon

 
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here's What To Do

  1. Choose a book about family memories, and read it to the child or let her or him read it to you. After reading the book, list it on a Reading Record.
  2. Discuss the book or give the child time to write about it using the following questions as a guide:

    • What kind of memories are presented in this story?
    • Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life?
    • Do you think this character will remember these things in ten or twenty years?
    • What helps you remember important events in your life?
  3. Help the child think of questions to ask family members. Encourage him or her to come up with original questions that he or she really wants to know the answer to. Use the following questions as a guide:

    • What would you like to know about your family's history?
    • Do you know who the first person was who came to this country?
    • Do you know why that person came here?
    • Do you wonder how many different places your parents lived?
    • What memorable things have happened to you personally?
  4. Once the child has chosen several good interview questions, ask him or her to write them in a list, leaving space to write the answers during the interview. Remind the child to ask about when events occurred so they can be placed in the correct order on the timeline.
  5. Now it's interview time! Encourage the child to interview as many family members as possible to get a wealth of information.
    Tip: If the child has a camera at home, encourage him or her to take pictures of family members during the interview to use on the timeline later.
  6. Have the child go through his or her interview notes and mark events and memories that are most interesting or important to include on the timeline. He or she should number the events according to the order in which they happened.
  7. Print out several sheets of graph paper for the child to work with. Help her or him number the graph paper with years on the bottom (horizontal) line and ratings such as 0-10 on the side (vertical) line to show when the event happened and how the child or family member feels about it. Visit the example life map for ideas.
  8. The child can now add details and further illustrate the timeline using family photos, memorabilia, and art supplies.

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More Ideas To Try

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Glossary

Interview

 

While some interviews are formal, informal interviews with family members and peers should be friendly and more casual. Interviewers still need to be prepared with a list of questions that lead to an extended response, not a yes or no answer, and need to record their interviewees’ responses carefully to maintain accuracy and show respect for their answers.

Discuss

 

Discussion is a natural way for children and teens to express or explain what they already know or what they are learning. When possible, let children and teens lead the direction of a discussion. Ask questions that lead to an extended response (“What do you think about…?” or “Why do you think…?”) rather than questions that might result in a yes or no or a simple answer.

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