Activity And Project

Creating Family Timelines

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
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Activity Description

Encourage children to spend some quality time with family members when everyone gets together. Children can interview family members and make an illustrated timeline of the most important family events and memories. This is a great way to learn about their family's history and to capture memories forever.

This activity was modified from the ReadWriteThink lesson plan "Creating Family Timelines: Graphing Family Memories and Significant Events."

Why This Is Helpful

Learning about family and making personal connections to the larger community helps children see beyond their own experiences and better understand the world around them. When children use what they learn about their families to make a timeline, they make meaningful connections to mathematics and history.

What You Need

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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