A timeline of Bible history is a wonderful tool, especially for children who are visually-oriented and also the young ones who don’t have a grasp of time spans yet. In fact, this article shows how simple and effective it can be.
Please click here for timeline figures.
When we started learning history in our homeschool, we started at the beginning, with the story of Creation from the book of Genesis. I bought a roll of butcher paper and unrolled part of it out onto the floor. I drew a heavy line at the top with a black marker and then marked off intervals for each century.
This blog talks about doing it with sentence strips, a great idea that saves space.
This blog has many more ideas for timelines.
Now, some intervals on your timeline will be longer than others, because we just don’t have as much information about some periods than others. If you’re going to get really detailed and have, for example, every event in the life of Abraham, then obviously that space on your timeline is going to be huge compared to, say, Methuselah, whom we have very little information about, but who lived longer than anyone else in the Bible.
So what do you do about differences in intervals? You don’t worry about it! Because your kids won’t either, trust me. They’ll just enjoy putting pictures in their timeline and seeing how the stories “fit” with each other, and they won’t care that the space between 200-150 B.C. is gigantic compared to the space between 400-0 B.c. (when God was silent).
But if, like me, you’re a little compulsive about that kind of stuff, just do what I did: draw a stop light at each interval. For the longer intervals, when you have a lot of information, color in a yellow light. This is when the Bible “slows down” and gives us lots of stories for these years on the timeline. For short intervals, color in a green light. This is when the Bible “speeds up” and doesn’t give us a lot of historical information, so we’ll just “shorten” our timeline there. This explanation seems to satisfy my children, and I hope it will yours.
Older children who already have a grasp of timelines might prefer keeping a binder with one page per century. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers call this a Book of Centuries, and more information about it can be found at this website.
There are many websites with timelines of Bible periods. This website has a simple timeline you can follow. Beware of timeline websites that also have commentaries (not always to be trusted) . Others may list non-Biblical events, such as the formation of other religions ~ but this could be a good way to teach children that these religions were formed by men, not God.
I think a good study Bible that already has the approximate dates listed for each event is sufficient. Incidentally, I use the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, New King James version. Just about every chapter in this Bible has the time period listed (of course, for Creation, we would just put a question mark on our timeline).
For our homeschool timeline, we just drew in our timeline figures ourselves. It is nice to see how the children draw theirs, and how their drawings improve in detail with each timeline they do. There are some sources out there for timeline figures that you can buy and use.
I am slowly but surely putting together a list of free links to pictures you can download for your timelines.