crafty · DIY · education · Keepin' it real · Kids

Day 129: A History of our Timeline of History

A couple of months ago Mr. December and I decided to teach the kids history by showing them entertaining (but accurate) history videos. I decided to create a timeline on our wall so that after watching, the kids could pin the name and date of the video’s event to the timeline. Great idea, right?

I wanted to use my cute little push pins that have tiny clothespins attached, so I glued some cork to a backing of foam mats (leftovers from our previous playroom) and nailed all twelve feet of it to the wall. Soon the kids began to attach names, events, and dates. Joan of Arc. American Revolution. Henry VIII. French Revolution. Harry Houdini.

Getting real for a second here, it didn’t look fabulous; the edges of the cork were crumbly and I hadn’t disguised the foam backing, so the whole thing looked a bit shabby. I’m trying to tame my perfectionistic tendencies, though, so I let it be… until the day the cork started peeling off of the backing.

Back to the drawing board, then. The cork had come from a roll and it just didn’t adapt well to being held flat. Fabric should do a much better job. And so I found a nice piece of blue fleece and stuck it to the foam mats with extra-heavy-duty double-sided carpet tape. It looked a bit better for a few days.

Then the fabric fell off. Great. I decided to take down everything — foam and all — and try something new, which brings us to today.

Using my utility knife, some duck tape, and a vise grip, I cut a roll of drawing paper (from IKEA’s children’s department) to the height I needed. Then I unrolled it on the floor and cut it to length. With a roll of galaxy-print Duck Tape, I created a border so that the paper wouldn’t start to tear around the edges.

It didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped. I used a single long piece of tape for each side of the 12’6″ paper and at some point it started to pucker and crease. So much for my flat and smooth paper timeline. I finished framing the paper with the duck tape and mounted it on the wall with thumbtacks.

It looks okay. Not spectacular, but not terrible. I wish it had turned out a bit better, but I don’t have the patience to make a whole new one right now. The important thing is that the kids use it, right?

“Hey K, hey R, see my new timeline?” I prodded, “Isn’t it neat?”

“Meh.” They both shrugged and went back to their own work.

Thank God for E. Her immediate excitement restored my good cheer after her sisters’ callous indifference. “Where is ancient Egypt?” She asked. “When were the Pharaohs?”

I double-checked the answer with Google. Then E helped me stick the yellow masking tape in a straight-ish line from 3100 B.C.E. to 331 B.C.E. She stood back and marvelled at how much of the timeline Ancient Egypt actually covered.

“Should we put you on the timeline?” I asked her. “I’ll use yellow since it’s your favourite.” I ripped off a tiny piece of tape and stuck it to the timeline from 2015 to 2020.

“There you are,” I said. “Ancient Egypt runs aaaall the way along here, and this tiny speck here is your life.”

Wide-eyed, she took it all in for a moment. Then came what I thought was a non sequitur: “I guess some of the people in Egypt died while they were there.”

Huh? “What do you mean?” I asked. “Where else would they have died?”

“You know,” She insisted, “The ones who built the pyramids and left Egypt!”

“You mean the Hebrew Slaves who left Egypt on Passover?”


So I told her that according to the Torah, the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt for four hundred years — more than a few lifetimes — so she was correct. Many Hebrew slaves died in Egypt.

Then, in the lightning-fast manner of five-year-olds everywhere, she moved on:

“They mummified cats, you know.”

“Do you want to put a picture of a mummified cat on the yellow tape?” I offered.

“Yes. And pyramids. And King Tut.” She added.

And just like that, the hours I’ve spent on making a timeline have paid off.

2 thoughts on “Day 129: A History of our Timeline of History

  1. It’s cool how some things just click for people! I had a timeline experience once that I still count as one of the big light bulb moments of my entire education. Even though I’d been a musician and listened to quite a bit of instrumental music, I had *no* idea when any of it had been composed. Beethoven might as well have been composing from a pyramid in Ancient Egypt. I had no idea. Then, one day I was in a humanities class, the teacher wrote on a timeline “American Revolution” and above it wrote “Mozart” and it all clicked into place for me. I still use that as an anchor when I think about different musical periods. Mozart = American Revolution and I work forward or backward from there.

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