2. Modelling making a timeline

When studying past events, it is important to help pupils understand the passage of time and how things change from generation to generation.

Developing the ways that young pupils look at their family histories will help them link events together as well as put them in sequence. Resource 2: Another kinship chart provides a family tree that will help pupils see relationships between family members, e.g. their cousin is their mother’s or father’s sister’s or brother’s child. See Resource 3: Lunda kinship terms for some Zambian terminology.

Case Study 2: Family histories

Joyce Phiri plans to teach about family relations over time with her Grade 5 pupils.

She cuts a series of pictures from magazines of people of different ages, doing different things, e.g. at a wedding, a school prize day, and writes numbers on the back of each picture. She tells her pupils that the photographs represent different events in one person’s life and asks her pupils, in groups of six, to sequence the photos in terms of the age of the person. She gives them 15 minutes to discuss the order and then asks each group to feed back. She asks why they chose the order they did and lists the clues they found in the pictures to help them order the events. They discuss the key events shown in the pictures and Mrs Phiri tells the pupils they have made a ‘timeline’ of life.

Activity 2: Pupils creating their own timeline

Resource 4: My timeline can be a starting point for your class to do their own timeline.

  • First, discuss the importance of knowing one’s own origins and members of one’s family.
  • Explain what a timeline is.
  • Model (demonstrate) the making of a timeline yourself (you don’t have to use your own life – you could do a realistic one based anonymously on someone you know). Modelling is an excellent way of supporting pupils to learn a new skill/behaviour. Draw this timeline on the board and talk through what you are doing, or have one prepared on a large roll of paper. Remember to use a suitable scale – a year should be represented by a particular length. (When your pupils come to do their timelines, they could use 5 cm or the length of a hand if they don’t have rulers.)
  • Ask pupils to write down key things they remember about their lives and also give them time to ask their parents/carers about when they first walked etc.
  • Ask them to record any other information they want to include on their timeline.
  • Support them as they make their timelines. You could encourage them to write in the main events that have happened to them personally, and in a different colour (or in brackets under the line) the main events that happened to their wider family (e.g. older sister went to college, father bought a field etc.).
  • Display their timelines in the classroom.
  • Pupils who finish quickly could be asked to imagine and draw a timeline of their future. What will be the main events when they are 20, 25, 40 etc.?

1. Working in groups to discuss families

3. Helping pupils explore their past