3 Tips for Teaching with Timelines

3 Tips for Teaching with Timelines

Are you new to Grapevine Bible studies, or just wanting some new ideas for teaching Bible timelines to your students?

At Grapevine, each study begins with a timeline. We will explain how to map out the major characters and events for your study, and then with each following lesson, you can take a more in-depth look at each point of interest.

Goals for Teaching the Timeline

Many students know stories in the Bible, but they don’t know how they fit together. A timeline-based study gives students the big picture of the Bible while helping them understand the chronology of events. Each Bible timeline will help them to see the relationship between people and events, whether they are studying sections of the Word of God or an overview of the entire Bible. Read about why we teach timelines at Grapevine to learn more.

Lesson Structure

Each Grapevine study begins with an overview of the timeline. Following the timeline, each session is divided into three parts: the timeline review, the lesson, and the lesson review. The timeline review is designed to give chronological context to the current lesson, while also reviewing the previous two to three lessons and memory verses. During the lesson itself, you and your students will read, discuss, and draw each section of scripture. At the end, you will wrap up with a verbal lesson review and introduce your students to the memory verse for that lesson.

Here are the three tips we recommend implementing when you teach the timeline:

  • Draw and Explain

As you introduce each character or event, draw a stick figure or other icon and direct 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.

Example:

We draw Creation using a green circle.

We draw Adam as a blue stick man and Eve as a red stick woman.

  • 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.

Examples:

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.

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

  • 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.

Example:

           Draw just the faces of the people 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 three favorite resources are:

  • Annals of World History
  • Chronology of the Old Testament
  • 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 relative 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.

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