|Home||Parties||Educational Index||Science Index||Math||Kidstuff||Crafts||Games||Food||Camping||Feeling Sour?||Writing||Me|
Why bother studying history? What's passed is past. It's all just memorizing names and dates! You've probably heard someone say "those who don't understand their history are condemned to repeat it".
Timelines are a good way to map historical events and compare the timing of different aspects of history, such as the rise and fall of civilizations, technological advances, scientific discoveries, artistic developments, etc. Timelines can take many forms from large wall charts to small notebooks. You can make your own fairly easily. First you will need to determine your starting point and use this along with your available space to determine your scale. Draw your main line and measure out time intervals to mark with the year.
A great first timeline project is to have the child do a timeline of his/her own life. Some events to mark: their birth; the birth or adoption of any siblings; when they lost their first tooth; when they started school, sports, arts programs or youth groups; moving to a new home; the arrival of a new pet; when they learned to read. Add other events as desired.
In the 1970s, the BBC produced a television series hosted by James Burke entitled "Connections". This was revived again twice in the 1990s. The series can be found online by searching Connections + James Burke--I haven't linked because I am unsure if there are copyright violations involved in these videos.
Many museums offer a glimpse of the past, but you can take this a step further. Try living for a full day or longer completely immersed in the time and culture you are studying. Pay attention to the details: what clothing did they wear, what work did they do, what ammenities were available, what did they eat--where did it come from and how was it prepared, what did they do for entertainment. Try and sample as much of the culture as possible including the music, stories, language, customs, religious practices, commonly held world views at the time, etc. If there are aspects of the people that are unknown, speculate as to what they might have been or done based on the available evidence. Try using similar tools for the jobs they did. How did they meet their needs? How does this compare to other people in different parts of the world at the time? What items from afar might they have obtained through trade? What sorts of personal history might they have had? What sort of education? What sort of communication networks were in place? Pretend it is reality TV, without the TV.
We often overlook the most valuable sources for more recent history. Taking the time to talk to an elder can bring a great deal of reality to historical events. Hearing first-hand accounts of events helps make them real and put them into perspective. Do you have a grandparent or great grandparent who remembers Vietnam? Martin Luther King? Pierre Trudeau and the FLQ Kidnappings? The building and falling of the Berlin Wall? Don't forget to ask about your own personal family history once you have them talking! You may wish to ask them if you can record the session so you can remember names, dates and other details.
As well as our elders, others in your community may have true stories to share about recent/current events, particularly those that happened in other areas or countries. Hearing their versions of what happened and comparing it to media accounts can be enlightening, and can open up a whole new discussion about biases and interpretations of events. It has been said that the history books are written by the "winners" or those who conquered and won, and that because of this, most histories carry some inaccuracies. What do you think?