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How to Teach the Bible Timeline

Written by Dianna Wiebe on .

Teaching the Bible timeline can be challenging. Three things can make teaching the timeline fun and effective.

At Grapevine, beginning in first grade, each study begins with a timeline. Understanding the chronology of the Bible is an essential Bible study skill for all believers. Let’s first look at what our goal is for teaching timelines.

Goals for Teaching the Bible Timeline

Many students know stories in the Bible, but they don’t know how they fit together. Discovering the biblical timeline will help your students see how the stories they know fit into time.

In addition, the goal is to help students to see the big picture of the Bible. The Bible is made up of many parts but it is one story. Teaching the timeline helps students to identify the parts and then how understand how the parts fit together.

Why Teaching Chronologically is Important

At Grapevine, all our studies are chronological in layout. Teaching chronologically gives students the context for what they are studying.

In our preschool and kindergarten level, we using chronological lessons to teach young children. Although young children may not understand chronology, we think it is important to help students learn biblical the characters and events in order. By the end of their study, they should be able to look at the pictures they drew and retell you the story along with the memory verse.

Beginning in first grade, each study begins with an overview of the timeline for that study. This is where students take the pieces of the biblical story they know and add new pieces. By the end of each study, student should be able to draw that timeline from memory and tell you facts and verses related to each point on the timeline.

So as you prepare to teach, here are our top three tips for teaching Bible timelines.

3 Tips for Teaching the Timeline

1. Draw and Explain

As you introduce each character or event, draw a stick figure or other icon and show your students what to draw and which color to use.

Grapevine does use specific colors for people and events. For example, we save the color purple for references to God in general, God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Children will often ask to use different colors, and we leave that decision to the teacher.

We draw Creation using a green circle.
We draw Adam as a blue stick man and Eve as a red stick woman.

2. Ask Questions

Since the timeline is the first thing you teach, in lesson one, you may have new students in your class. This is a good time to find out what your students know about the Bible. Are you dealing with students that are well taught or brand new to the Bible?

The timeline for each study can be used to frame each lesson. Once you have completed your drawing and explanation, ask questions of your students. You want to gauge how much your students know about specific characters or events. This will be helpful as you prepare to teach future lessons to know whether to keep it very basic or to add more information.

Tell me one thing you know about Noah.
Can you name Adam’s wife? (Asking this after you draw Adam)

Allow the timeline exercise to guide your questions, giving students a chance to answer.

3. Evaluate Drawing Ability

If you are teaching at home or for a class of multiple ages, you will likely have children with different drawing abilities. You may need to simplify your drawings if you have younger children.

Draw just the faces of the people on the timeline instead of the entire stick man.
Draw only the snake for The Fall, instead of the snake in the tree.

While younger students are completing their drawings, begin to ask the older students questions about that character or event. For each of our studies, we do have a traceable guide that helps younger children keep up with the older students.

Older students can add details to the characters and event symbols, making them unique. For more advanced students, one could also add key geographical locations below the timeline and dates above the timeline.

Bonus Tip: Add Dates

Dates are controversial, so we have chosen to leave them out of the curriculum. However, when we teach timelines to older students, we do include the dates. Our two favorite resources are:

Annals of World History
Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms

These resources provide a fun way to help your students see when biblical events happened in time and the distance in years between particular events.

One could certainly teach a timeline without trying to assign exact dates; this way students can still get the benefit of learning the relative closeness or distance between given events.

Teaching timelines is an important element in teaching the Bible to your students. Like you, we believe every child deserves to understand the truth of Scripture in a fun and life-changing way and timelines are a great tool!

I would love to hear if you have any tips you share with new teachers! Simply reply to this email with your tips!

Serving Him with Stick Figures,

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