One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read it, but provide opportunities to also hear it and to “put their hands in it”, too. History, in particular, lends itself well to these methods of learning. Besides reading the textbook, be sure your students have a chance to meet great men and women of history and to be introduced to pivotal events in biographies, autobiographies and historical fiction. There are fabulous audio recordings that narrate archeological digs, bring historical stories to life or present music from a particular culture, era or genre. Children can recite poetry and famous speeches or addresses. “Putting their hands in it” relates more to hands-on projects that help to solidify a student’s understanding of the material. It can be anything from preparing a recipe, writing a report, drawing an illustration, sculpting a replica of a famous statue, acting out a historical event or building a model of an important piece of architecture. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. And their is scientific evidence to show that when a student kinesthetically (touches, feels, put’s their hands in it) experiences information at the same time that they are hearing or seeing it, new synapses (connectors) are formed in the brain, expanding thinking and retention power, as information can move even more quickly from one neuron to the next, with the new connections that are made. One of the most common examples I can think of is teaching a child to write letters by speaking the letter names out loud, while tracing them in sand. They experience the letter by seeing it’s form being shaped, hearing it’s name pronounced and feeling it drawn in the sand. This multi-sensory approach is a great brain-builder. It also makes learning, so much more fun!
I have always enjoyed helping our kids create history timelines for this same reason. They remember the important people and dates so much easier when they experience them in so many different ways. When our older girls were young, our history timelines were art masterpieces that ended up circling the entire perimeter of our dining room. Each new picture moved forward in history, highlighting a significant event or person and allowing them to engage their creative, artistic sides. I wanted to give our youngest a similar experience, but have the timeline confined to a space smaller than an entire dining room. I decided to help her create a Timeline Notebook and I’m excited about the potential. She will literally be able to continue adding pages, all the way through high school, as her studies expand and go more indepth.
Of course the most exciting thing, for her, is the artistic and creative aspect of it. I’m excited because she can’t help but learn, as she enjoys the projects that she will work on. As she gets older, she will appreciate history, its significance and her place in it, a little more than she does now, at age 10. Then this book will be a treasure of memories and information.
To create your own History Timeline Notebook, you’ll only need a few simple supplies and you’ll probably have most of them on hand, at home.
- a three ring binder (I would recommend a 1 ½” or 2″, if you plan to continue adding pages over several years. If you grab one that has the plastic sleeve on the front, it’s so much easier to add a nice cover.)
- 8½ x 11 cardstock (something you can run through your printer. I prefer the heavier weight, so we can cover both sides without any bleed-through.)
- markers (I like Elmer’s Painters Markersfor this kind of project. They are so much easier to control than paint and a brush; and the vibrant colors are fade resistant and permanent.)
- a ruler
- pencils, pens and colored pencils
- glue and/or tape or even some Elmer’s Glue Spots
- a three-hole punch
- your computer printer
To really boost enthusiasm, it’s always fun to allow students to begin by creating a cover for their notebook. Our first notebook will be for United States History, so we thought an American flag would be a colorful and symbolic cover.
Sketch out your design, lightly on a piece of cardstock, making sure you have all your outlines where you want them. We made the 13 stripes of our American flag 1/2″ thick, so we carefully plotted marks to create those lines, first.
Knowing that the field of blue was the height of the first seven stripes, we drew the six bottom stripes across the entire sheet.
Then we drew a vertical line from the top of the page to the top of that sixth stripe from the bottom, which created the border for the field of blue.
After that we could sketch in the remaining seven stripes and are ready to add some color.
Outlining the individual color shapes before filling them in with Elmer’s Painters Markers, made it easier to keep the color where we wanted it. (Elmer’s Paint Markersare acrylic paint. They can also be used on wood, plastic, clay, glass, metal, foam board, fabric, and terra cotta. They are permanent, streak free, non-toxic and acid free, plus they’re available in fine and medium point, as well as with a calligraphy tip.)
We filled in the field of blue and left it to dry while we moved to another area of the flag. Another reason I love Elmer’s Painters Markers is that once the paint is dry, another color can be laid in over the top of the last, without the colors mixing or bleeding into one another. That will make adding stars over the blue, super simple, later.
Next, we outlined and filled in the seven red stripes, starting with the top stripe and ending with the very bottom.
After the stripes were filled, we were ready to add stars over our field of blue. It wasn’t easy drawing tiny white stars with a medium point marker, but we managed by making small dots and then dragging tiny bits of paint from the center of the dot out in five different directions. Though we didn’t space them very well (Epic mom fail!) and weren’t able to get all 50 stars on our flag, she’ll never forget that there are 50 or why, since that was a prominent point of our discussion as we created them. We left our white stars to dry and started on the first page of our timeline.
I created a timeline page template to use and converted it to a pdf file for you, so you can download it and print your own, if you like. I like that we will be able to print additional pages, as we go, and add new ones each year.
While we waited for the stars to dry, we got started on some timeline pages. First, I three-hole punched all the template pages we printed. Then I used the Elmer’s Calligraphy Painters Markers to start adding dates to the hash lines.
We added some illustrations to the timeline, using the Elmer’s Painters markers. The first illustration was of Columbus’ sea voyage. While we waited for his sails to dry, we had the bright idea to make a sphere of green and blue dots, swirl them and create an “Earth”. We would use that to depict Magellan’s trip around the world.
With the addition of a couple of mini-reports we typed up from information in our textbook, we completed the first page of our timeline. We know two important dates and several things about two important men in history, as well as their sea voyages.
The cover is completely dry now and ready to be slipped into the plastic sleeve on the front of the notebook.
I want to give you one more idea for a timeline page, so you don’t think there’s only one way to make them. I hope you will get creative and add all kinds of interesting things to your timeline. I know we will add report pages and recipes with pictures of our student baking them. We’ll also include pictures of any other projects she does and slip them in next to the appropriate dates. In the meantime, here’s what we did with the second page.
This is going to be a fun, ongoing project that I can work on with our daughter. It’s a great way to compile a lot of information in a compact amount of space. Years from now, I think she’ll enjoy looking back through it and remembering the times we worked on it together; and I know it will help her to retain the important facts from history that we are teaching her.
What creative ideas do you use to encourage your students to learn and remember what they’ve been taught? Do they like hands-on projects to solidify the concepts and information in their mind? Leave a comment and share your ideas, so we can all benefit from your thoughts.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric” @GlueNGlitter I purchased Elmer’s Painters Markers in order to test them on this project. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.