I think it is wonderful for children to know about their own city, state, and country. It gives them a sense belonging. They realize that they are an important part in their community. But, more importantly, they ought to know that their small community is not the center of the world. Nor is their place in history any more significant than the thousands of years that have passed. In fact, knowing that their lives are but a blip on the timeline of history can bring tremendous perspective to their little beings. Anyone who has done any amount of traveling might agree that we Americans hold too high a view of ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I love America. I support our troops and take pride in our stripes and stars. I am ever grateful of the foundation and sacrifices that our forefathers have laid down in order for us to live the American way of life. However, I am acutely aware that there are many people across the globe in many countries who are just as important and loved by our our creator as we are. I want my children to know this and take interest in people from many different cultures in many different parts of the world and to appreciate the vast history that the whole globe has to offer.
As a result I am teaching my children history from the very beginning from a global perspective. This year, in order to chronicle our journey through time I have made a timeline that is literally longer than our house. The first event we put on our timeline was "God Created the World."
The next two events we put on our timeline were my son's birth dates. I had them walk from the beginning all the way to the other side of the house to the time they were born. I think they got the idea that there is a whole world of history that has occurred before they even existed and that's exactly what I want them to understand. Here is a video of the boys running back and forth from the very beginning to the time of their birthdays. The quality is poor, but I had fun editing and putting music to it. The rest of this post gives information on how you can make or buy a timeline of your own.
Making the timeline:
I made it out of extra poster boards I got for free. I cut the poster board into 8 1/2 inch strips, then scored and accordion folded them every 11 inches to made standard 8 1/2 X 11 inch squares. I then taped the strips end to end with sturdy masking tape so that the whole thing folded up into one thick book.
Dating the timeline:
I left the first four pages dateless and labeled it "In the beginning," because there are things in the Bible and in early ancient history that are debatable as far as exactly when they happened. For example: Can someone tell me why Noah's Ark is dated after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt? That just doesn't make sense! I started dating at 3000 BC and made every page equal one century until 1 AD. Then I changed to fifty years per page. At 1900 I made each page 25 years since I figured we would need more room for the events in the last century. I used a yard stick and colored Sharpies to make the line down the middle using different colors for each millenium.
Timeline figures and other resources:
You can get free printable timeline cards from Hannah's homeschool helps (hannah_hs_helps) yahoo groups. She graciously provides printable cards for many events throughout history. You will need to sign up for a Yahoo groups account, then ask permission to join her Yahoo groups. It took a little bit to figure it out, but it's well worth it. Her timeline resources are found under Files > History > SOTW4 Timeline pics. They are made for use with the Story of the World books by Susan Wise Bauer. (I highly recommend!) Also, Homeschool In the Woods has pre-made timeline pictures you can order along with a host of information on how to make and use a timeline. Check it out!! Classical Conversations sells timeline history cards, although I don't know how big they are. Sonlight also sells timeline figures and they even sell a blank timeline book called The Book of Time if you would prefer a timeline in book form. Their figures are made by Homeschool in the Woods specifically for their curriculum. If you want more information about timelines, I suggest visiting A Book In Time. They have a video that explains how to make your own timeline book and an extensive list of timeline products and resources.