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Tips for Teaching History Using Timelines

Timelines are amazing tools for visual learners, but there are ways of teaching through history timelines that appeal to all learning styles. Start by using the five timeline education ideas in this post!

How to teach use a timeline to teach kids history.

This summer I’m using a timeline to explore history with my kids. Our project started thanks to an invitation to review a history timeline curriculum. My review is part of this post, which is sponsored by Home School in the Woods.

Today I’m sharing my opinions about that curriculum, along with my top five tips for using timelines to teach history.

Timelines are amazing tools for visual learners, but there are ways of teaching through history timelines that appeal to all learning styles. Start by using the five timeline education ideas in this post!

Teaching History Using a Timeline: Our Top Five Tips

First, let’s talk about some fun ways to approach history education using timelines. While history timelines are fantastic visual learning tools, used correctly they appeal to all learning styles!

#1 Approach History Chronologically

Timelines are perfect for teaching history chronologically. Pick a moment in time and work forwards or backwards.

#2 Teach History Thematically Using a Timeline

I love picking a theme and tracking it across history. Earlier this year I created a black history month timeline with my kids.

The visual timeline of events surrounding black history in America helped my children think about the history of race in the United States, what has changed, and what needs changing.

#3 Locate an Individual or Event Within the Historical Context

We behave in certain ways for many reasons. Personality, family, friends, and style of upbringing influence our worldviews and decisions.

The historical context we are born into also influences worldviews and decisions.

Pick a famous figure from history. Look at important events that happened when the year they were born. How about events taking place during their childhood? Teen years? Young adult years? Middle age?

This is also a fun activity if you are studying your own family’s history.

#4 Explore History in Your Child’s Lifetime

Now that you’ve placed someone else in historical context, do the same with your child’s life:

  • What happened the year they were born?
  • What major events happened before they started school?
  • Explore events that took place during elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Besides teaching history, this exercise makes children more aware of how the context they live in impacts their approach to daily life.

#5 Work Backwards Starting with Your Child’s Birth Year

Past history influences our decisions and choices the same way present history impacts us!

Take your child’s birth year and work backwards in time. Look especially for events that influence major public figures as well as individuals from your personal family history.

About the History Curriculum We Use

This summer Home School in the Woods sent us their Timeline Trio to review.

History timeline curriculum for kids from Homeschool in the Woods

This curriculum looks at historical events starting in 5000 BC through the present time. The curriculum has a clear Christian focus in that Biblical events and Christian figures feature heavily throughout the timeline.

That being said, you choose which characters go onto your timeline, and if you prefer a secular approach to teaching history you can easily omit religious figures.

That being said, religion plays a pretty major role in history. I therefore recommend considering about the impact of each individual before deciding to eliminate them simply because they are a religious figure.

The product is also designed so that you can easily create your own clip art and descriptions for individuals you wish to add.

What Did my Kids Think About This History Timeline?

Homeschool history curriculum

My 13-year-old daughter, 9-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old daughter used this curriculum the most. My 11-year-old son was busy with a camping trip and archery camp for much of summer, so he didn’t participate as much as the girls.

Teaching history using timelines

13-year-old Emma loved the curriculum at first, but Emma gets bored easily. She was easier to engage when we approached the timeline thematically instead of year to year.

Emma not a visual learner and has face blindness, which might make the images less useful to her than others.

9-year-old Lily and 6-year-old are my two artsy-craftsy kids at the moment. They both really enjoyed this timeline, and I think they will continue to do so throughout the year.

I am consciously trying to not do too much of the timeline at once to prevent burnout and maintain interest.

Teaching history with a timeline

The timeline is easy to use, with printables featuring historical events and figures. We recommend using the included placement guide to make sure everything fits.

The guide’s design includes enough blank space that you should be able to fit any extra people or events without disrupting existing people and events too much.

More Great Resources for Teaching History Beyond Timelines

Teaching history is fantastic fun when done well! Start with these favorites:

The Ultimate History Curriculum Giveaway!

Home School in the Woods is offering my readers the ultimate history curriculum giveaway as part of this post!

project passport history curriculum

One winner will receive The ENTIRE COLLECTION of both Project Passport (5) and Time Traveler (7) products—$311.90 VALUE! The winner can be anywhere in the world because this is a digital product. 

Homeschool teaching resources

Enter the giveaway in the widget below:

Do you use history timelines in your homeschool? What are your top tips for teaching kids history?

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MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

3 thoughts on “Tips for Teaching History Using Timelines”

  1. natalie planetsmartypants

    I think timelines are super helpful for learning history, especially for visual learners. We have Timeline of Inventions game that we all enjoy.

  2. Completely unrelated to the post, but I love that table of contents you added at the top of the post. That is so cool!

    I love their products, they are so much fun to use. I especially love their file folder games.

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