History is sometimes a hard concept for kids to grasp--not that events actually happened, but that they happened to real people and that to those people it wasn't history, it was the present. One of the best activities to help show your child the idea of being a part of history is to help him create My Life Timeline depicting his own history and accomplishments.
Note: One thing to remember as you tackle this activity is that a child who was adopted may find this activity a little difficult, but there are ways to adapt it to make it more general. Instead of focusing on everything that happened from the time when your child was born and beyond, think about using less specific terms, like "past" and "present." That way your child can decide what events in his “past” are of importance to him without feeling pressured to know the details of what happened in the time before he was adopted.
What Your Child Will Learn (or Practice)
Your child will get a sense of historical perspective while practicing sequencing and expository writing skills.
- Roll of butcher paper or a number of pieces of paper taped together to create a strip about 6 to 10 feet long.
- Pencil, ruler, and markers.
- Pair of scissors
- Glue or tape
- Index cards
- Photos commemorating events of your child’s lifetime. (They don’t have to be big events, just a good selection of photos that span his lifetime.)
Starting a My Life Timeline
- Provide your child with a number of index cards and ask him to help you think about some moments in his life that are most important or memorable to him. Start by having him write his date of birth on an index card. Tell him what day of the week he was born on and the time if you know it, and ask him to add that information to the index card, too. Then, have him label the card with a phrase like "Today, I was born!"
- Challenge him to think of other days in his life that were important in his personal history. Prompt him to think about things like brothers or sisters being born, first days of school and family vacations. Ask him to write down the events and their descriptions, one on each index card, without worrying about whether they are in order.
- Complete this process up to the present day. In fact, the last card might say, "Made a My Life Timeline."
- When he’s done coming up with events, have him place all the index cards the floor or on a table. Now, ask him to sequence the events according to when they happened, starting with the oldest (his birth date) on the left and working toward the most recent on the right.
- If your child is having trouble remember which events came before others, you can help him identify when something happened. In fact, providing him with the month and year will be a big help in putting his personal history in order.
- Look through the photos together to try to find one to match each index card, but don’t stress if there isn’t one. Your child can always hand illustrate an event.
Putting Together a My Life Timeline
- Lay the piece of butcher paper down on a hard work surface (the floor works best).
- Help your child use the ruler to draw a horizontal line in the middle of the paper from one end to the other.
- Start at the left end of the paper and draw a small line upward (vertically) from the middle of the paper. This mark will represent the day your child was born. Have him write his birth date above that line. Then ask him to make a similar line at the very end of the paper, writing today’s date and a little bit about himself and his life today.
- Have him place the index cards--in order--between those two dates, making a small line to connect each card to the line in the middle of the paper.
- Ask him to match the photos with the events and put each one below the correct index card (under the line on the paper). Glue or tape the pictures and index cards in place.
- Let your child decorate the timeline, trace the information he’s written with markers and then tell you his personal history!