Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

The thought of memorizing dates and historical facts causes many students to sigh in frustration. Timelines represent historical facts in a visual manner, allowing visual learners to absorb more of the knowledge. Paper timeline templates are the traditional format, but creative twists turn timelines into a fun and educational experience. However, there are many fun ways to make a timeline. Use these ideas as a springboard for timeline activities, adapting and expanding on them as necessary.

Making An Edible Timeline

An edible timeline motivates children to explore historical events. The line itself may be represented by licorice or other long, thin candy. You can use cupcakes or cookies to represent events on a timeline, and arrange them on a board or a table with candy like licorice ropes or M&M trails acting as arrows or directional signs. Icing can be used with cookies or cupcakes to write the name and date of the event. Other food items work equally well for an edible timeline. A sheet cake can be iced and decorated with a timeline. Pizza dough can be shaped into a long rectangle, with the toppings representing the events along the timeline. Ask for student input to create other edible timelines. THese are particularly well suited for timelines related to cultural or culinary history.

Clothesline Timeline

A clothesline can serves as the base of the timeline, which can be easily changed and reused for other periods in history. Stretch a clothesline or string across the room, pulling the string tight so it doesn't sag. Use clothespins to to hold cards, fabric, objects or pictures representing the events on the timeline. The clothesline timeline works well in classrooms because it can be used throughout the year for various timelines. When not used as a timeline, it can display artwork from the students.

Living Timeline

A living timeline uses people to re-enact the events represented by the timeline. After the time frame is established, events are selected for representation on the timeline. The number of events selected depends upon the length of time represented and the number of people available for the living timeline. Divide the participants between the selected events, and have each group plan their costumes and information to be presented. Create scenery for each event on the living timeline, which will aid in visually separating the events. A gym or other large room is ideal for the living timeline. Plan to leave physical space between each event, and add visual props to show the passage of time if possible. You should also plan to provide a sign next to each display that identifies the event and date. The participants can continuously perform the event or provide an informational presentation when visitors stop by the display.

Scrapbook Timeline

A scrapbook provides an alternate method of displaying a timeline. Each event is represented on its own scrapbook page, using pictures and text to accurately describe the event. The event pages are placed in chronological order within the scrapbook. Use a binder with rings that will allow the pages to be removed or rearranged. This will allow new events to be easily added to the timeline.