We don’t just want to know THE WHERE of a book we’re reading…we want to know the WHEN.
We don’t just want to know how a book’s physical setting affects a story, we really need to know when. When a story happens provides the greatest opportunity to think about a culture. To compare it to our own. How we work and play. How we get around. What technology exists to make our lives easier or more productive (or not!).
What did people wear, what did they own, how did they store their food?
Timelines hanging around are the tools to help us understand the “when.”
Just like our maps and globes, we usually have a large, universal timeline that covers world history, and also a really simple world timeline that has history in simple “blocks.”
There are lots of super simple and free timeline templates by clever moms available online. Just ask google. Many of them are just a fill in the blanks kind of timeline. Besides these world history timeline, we usually have a timeline or two specific to whatever we are reading about.
If we’re reading a novel set in Ancient Rome…I’ll use Detective in Togas as an example.
It’s set in the city of Rome at the height of Roman power and influence. I’d like to have a pretty detailed map of the city. I think there’s one in the book, actually, I could just photocopy and enlarge it, so we can follow the detective’s adventures. I’d also want a map of the Roman Empire, so we know what Rome was really all about. Some maps are both a map and a timeline, that show the expansion of the Empire over time. I’d like my kids to understand where the Roman Empire fits into the big scheme of world history, so having a simple world history timeline will help them see that.
A timeline of the of the Roman Empire (the younger your children are, the simpler it should be) would be useful. Here’s the fun part. You don’t have to do much with your maps or timelines…just leaving them hanging around and visible pulls the where and the when into the discussion naturally and frequently.