In selecting how to dress the figure, what details to include, whether or not to add things like a test-tube or a sword, a crown or a book, they are thinking, prioritizing, organizing, and reviewing the material in their own minds once again. The finished product is not as important as the mind work that happens while the child plans the product.
Remember there is no education but self education. However, mine balked and stressed over the basic drawing- except for one more artistic daughter. So I came to make them a generic shape to use. Think gingerbread person- just the outline, on index cards. Then they named the figure and drew in the features they wanted it to have- and usually something to place in his or her hands, or specific details about the costume, or props to add around the figure.
I also had some timeline figures already made and sometimes we used those, or we cut things out of magazines and so on- but I noticed my kids *always* remembered best the ones they largely created themselves. I would guess yours will, too.
My actual timeline was just duct tape or strips of paper on the wall or door (depending on the house we lived in at the time). Incidentally, you can also use figures like these for narrations, for acting out Shakespeare, and for doing little puppet shows (tape them to popsicle sticks or chopsticks, or sticks brought in from outside).
Other times my kids cut out pictures from magazines, (gasp) old books, and catalogs (the teaching company has good ones for this purpose).
I’ve seen another timeline I liked a lot that was made by attaching yarn to the wall, and then using paper clips to hang index cards with drawings of people or events in the right order (dates on the cards). This way, you can rearrange, make more room as needed.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t over plan. Don’t get bogged down in details. Don’t print out somebody else’s research. Don’t put off having a timeline until you have all the perfect things for it. Once a week or so, ask the kids to pick somebody or something they’ve read about in school, sketch a small picture of it, and put it on a timeline, which can be on an art program on your computer, duct tape on a wall, door, or underneath an upper bunk bed or anywhere you can come up with, or even a binder full of pages.
Once a term, remove few figures and have the kids tell you what the remember of each one and put them back. Or take them all down at the end of the year and next year, when you add figures from the next year's reading, add a couple of the old ones back to the timeline. This is also a form of review.
Our timeline is not pretty, it’s not artistic, it’s not uniform. But learning once happened there, and that is what matters most.
Mainly, what I want you to take away from this post is that the work the children do themselves accomplishes more mind-work than anything they are handed ready-made, no matter how pretty the ready-made figures might be. the person doing the research is the person doing the learning. the person doing the work is the person doing the learning. Don’t rob your children of that benefit.
I know these are not as pretty as many printable versions we see. But we have to remember that our children must do the work of educating themselves. This is not a decorating project. It's not about how pretty it is, but how much work is going on in their minds. Now if they can improve their drawing skills and do some pretty work, that is fantastic. Encourage that. But don't lose sight of the real goal in the pursuit of pretty.
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