Ok, so imagine with me for a minute this concept in helping children to have a solid grasp of world history: sequence of events, understanding of time periods, how it “all fits together”, and so on.
You compile one or two hundred of the “most important” events/people/places. Then you set those facts to a tune and make a song out of it.
In memorizing this song, your child has learned:
- The order of major events and which things came after one another (“Western Roman Empire falls to the Barbarians, Byzantine Empire Justinian, Benedict and Monasticism….”).
- About “ages” in history (such as “Middle Ages”, “Age of Exploration”), their approximate years, and which events took place in which ages.
- A grasp of what life was like during certain time periods (based on the events that were taking place).
- Perspective for all other learning. Once you have learned this basic song, all other events you have learned about come into perspective. You view things as “where they fit” in your timeline song.
To me this is such a wonderful concept and idea.
When I was growing up (and I know I’m not alone in this) I heard about lots of different historical events, stories, people, and places. But in my mind it was somewhat of a jumbled mess. After all, there are a lot of different facts to learn! Trying to piece them all together in order, or remember time frames, and more importantly see the “big picture” and “flow”, was confusing.
And that is a sad place to be. Why? Because nobody likes feeling stupid. Nobody likes feeling confused and lost. It is human nature to shy away from things that make us feel lacking and incompetent, and this is especially a problem as children get a little older and think, “I should know this. Why don’t I understand this better?”
I don’t want that for my kids!
That’s why I am so excited about teaching my kids a timeline song. By learning it early in their education, it will serve as a framework for all further historical learning. A structure, skeleton, frame, shell. A “big picture” understanding.
Every time they learn something new about history, instead of it being just one more random fact to throw into their overwhelming pile of historical knowledge, it will fit nicely and neatly into this historical framework they have already established.
Isn’t that a great gift to give a child? It makes me wonder why something like this isn’t part of every child’s early elementary education.
We are using the timeline song from Classical Conversations press.
It will work out for our family, but I wish there were other alternatives for those who are not American / Christian.
I am just so excited about the concept that I wish there was a more secular/worldwide version, but I suppose that each person’s view of what is “important” in history is strongly based on their worldview (religion) and location (nationality), so it really would be near impossible to create one that suites everyone.
Maybe those who want to use the concept could just tweak the song and replace certain aspects, such as substituting Albert Einstein for Billy Graham, or Prehistoric Man for Creation and the Fall. Thoughts? Are there other versions out there that are put to song or could be put to song?
Anyway, here is the Youtube version of the song we are using.
I did purchase the MP3 so we can listen to it in the car or wherever, but I really like the YouTube version as it puts pictures to the facts, giving the events a little more background and meaning and a visual for our brains store.
I will admit that it is really catchy and gets stuck in my head often, but I don’t know all of the words which frustrates me like no other! I hate having a song stuck in my head when I don’t actually know it. I guess that gives me all the more reason to learn it with my kids.
(Damien, age 1 year 11 months, loves it too, and calls it “my timeline song”, insisting that I play it “for” him more often than I care to admit. It looks like this family is going to memorize this thing pretty quickly!)
What are your thoughts on the concept? Do you believe children should learn about the events before they learn the song, or vice versa? I am all for learning it before as I think it provides meaning and background to what they learn, and they get excited when they start learning about something that is in the timeline song. Even though Hunter (age 8) already knows a lot of these events, I like that it is still fairly “early” in his historical education and it is going to give everything he already knows and everything he is going to learn more meaning and relevancy. Would love to hear your thoughts!