Make a Family History Fanfold Timeline! Activity

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Updated on May 24, 2013

Next time you catch your second grader telling a family story every which way—the trip to the beach that starts with the weird crab, goes to the drive over, and ends with breakfast--don't be surprised.  It's a reflection of the stage, when kids are absorbing more information than ever...but sometimes having trouble keeping it straight, too! 

Fortunately, you can help.  Here's a family timeline activity that creates a keepsake while teaching your second grader to sequence and organize information.

What You Need:

  • Sheet of construction paper, 12x18" long
  • Crayons or markers
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • 3x5" photographs of your family--five different events from different years
  • Stapler

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your child that each family has its own special history. Tell your child that you and he are going to create a Family History Fanfold Timeline. On the timeline, you and he will list events that are important to your family.
  2. Hold your construction paper horizontally.  Use your ruler and pencil to draw a horizontal line across the paper, four inches from the bottom.  Fold the paper along the line to make a long pocket.  Now fold the paper in five fanfold sections, and use a stapler to staple the pockets on each fold.  You will have a long paper with five pocket sections.
  3. Spread your photos on a tabletop, randomly, and talk about them.  Which came first?  What date did it happen? Make sure that one of them is from the year your child was born!  Help your child place the events in order.
  4. Place the photos in the pockets, in order.  In the space above the pocket, have your child write the year of the event, and on the pocket itself, a sentence about what happened. When you're done, fold the timeline along each of the five sections, to make a fanfold.
  5. On the front cover, have your child draw a picture of herself right now.  She can give the timeline to grandma as a special present...or keep it in a cherished place on a dresser.  No matter what, you can both use it as a reference, any time your child's sequencing starts to wander, and you can make another timeline the next time you must make sense of a family vacation story, or of a book at school.  What happened first? Next?...and on and on!
Sally Ann Stanley is an experienced educator, with over 14 years of teaching experience. Over the last ten years she has created educational materials, including ancillary, textbook, and test items, for Grades K-8 for major educational publishers.

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