Teaching Timelines with no Trouble!

Teaching timelines and how time impacts our lives has been part of the kindergarten curriculum for a while now.  Timelines can be lots of fun, but they can also be a bit difficult for kindergartners to manage on their own.  Timeline work often became homework, and much of the work became mom or dad’s.  I have been using an authentic timeline method in my classroom that I want to share!

I have a number line all around my classroom.  For me the number line consists of numbered apples, but any positive integer number line will work.  This number line used to serve the major purpose of helping us keep track of how many days we had been at school as we counted to the 100th day.  Now my number line serves double duty.

We continue to count the number of days we have been at school, and each day my little Lego guy moves down one spot.  (The kids LOVE that a Lego ninja guy is our tracker by the way.)  But now, whenever a special event takes places in class, we add an additional picture up on the line.  We mark everyone’s birthday (IF it falls on a school day), field trips, picture day, the first day of fall, celebrations – whatever is important.  We have some good discussions about what we should include, and it helps the kids to understand that timelines selectively track events, and events happen in a specific order.  We often reflect on the year as we go along, remembering special times.  Toward the end of the year the kids begin to take on the job of drawing and writing about events to add to the timeline.

We even use our timeline/number line to practice directionality (reading left to right).  We discuss which event happened first, what was before or after something, etc.  This helps with understanding how timelines are chronological.  The kids really grasp this, and the shared experiences make it an even playing field.

I still assign a timeline project at the end of the year.  However, because we have been co-creating a timeline all year, the kindergartners really understand their project now!  How do you help students take ownership over tricky projects?  Have you ever built a class timeline?

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