Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Timelines are a brilliant way to help children visualise sequences of events during time periods better and improve their understanding of the things they learn about. Making timelines online with pictures can benefit kids understanding of local history, world history, how things (including themselves!) change or grow over time and can even help to develop essential 21st-century skills!
With ChronoFlo Timeline Maker kids can create interactive timelines online that are packed with information and look beautiful. I'll show you how your child can do this too (with an example of my own!) and I even have some special premium subscriptions to give away for the timeline maker that I used, so click on the banner below to enter now! 😍
Timelines for Kids: History and Biography
Firstly, what is a timeline? Timelines are visual representations of the key events that have taken place during a certain timeframe made by placing them along a line in chronological order. A horizontal line (or sometimes a vertical list) represents the timespan and events are placed according to when they happened along this line. Timelines for kids might include historic events in a certain period of history or significant milestones or experiences throughout a child's life for example.
You and your kids can make beautiful interactive historical and biographical timelines for free at home with kids of all ages and I’m going to show you how. 🙌
How do timelines help us understand History?
Timelines are great for teaching kids about history because they make it easy to see the chronology of a time period (the order of different events) as well as allowing kids to more easily analyse and make conclusions about the information they have. When making a timeline with pictures, kids can understand how the world changes and also how they change and grow over time.
Creating timelines online is a really good home learning activity which will support the critical thinking and creative skills (must have skills in a 21st-century education) of kids at any age because it encourages them to show characteristics like finding new ways to do things, developing sequences and planning how they can approach a task best.
How to make a timeline online
I’m going to show you how your child can create a free timeline online with pictures and dates using ChronoFlo Timeline Maker.
1. You’ll need to start by deciding on a timespan to focus on. So you might decide to focus on your six-year-olds first six years of life or it could be that your timeline covers a specific historical era that is relevant to the curriculum and age-appropriate for your child. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what would be relevant and age-appropriate, we are going to look at some ideas for kids of different ages further on in the post.
2. Next, you need to plan which events you will include in your timeline. Your child will now need to do some research to find out what the most important, relevant events that occurred during the timeframe were. Avoid making the activity way too long by choosing the right number of events - the younger the child the fewer - and try to guide kids towards choosing the most important events only, especially if they’re only including a few. For example, if you’re making a timeline of your five-year-old son's life, you might want to just choose around five of the most important events, whereas older kids studying a certain period in history could include many more. I wouldn’t recommend adding more than about 10-20 events for any child, at least at first, or they might get bored of actually inputting them onto their digital timeline. (If the online timeline activity sparks a real interest, they can always come back to it and add more events later on.) Parents: You will need to guide your child in how to find the information that they need - whether that is using an online search engine or looking in books. Try to use questions that lead your child’s thinking wherever you can, because this will encourage them to think actively rather than just do what you say they should.
Questions such as “How could we find out when ....”, “What could we type into Google to find out about ….?” or “Do you think that event is relevant to ….?”. Keep in mind also that younger children might not know what words like event or date mean or even what a timeline is. You might want to show kids some examples before getting started so that they have a better idea of what they’re aiming at.
💡 Remember to use pictures!
This is really, really important for a few reasons:
kids whose reading is still developing will be able to understand their own timeline better
timelines that include pictures will make it easier to see and discuss how things have changed over time
adding pictures makes the activity more child-friendly and more fun
3. Finally, you can add the events into your ChronoFlo online timeline. Give your child the right amount of help and support with using ChronoFlo timeline maker and don’t be afraid to show that you are learning too. Don’t worry if you haven’t 100% got to grips with how to make an online timeline yet because this is the perfect opportunity for you to learn something together! (Keep reading to see the steps that I took to create an amazing Roman History timeline using ChronoFlo.)
Don’t forget to ask more questions at various stages that will get your child thinking critically about the decisions they make. You might ask if a certain picture is really helpful to represent a certain event, how many different types of sources of information they used and why or how they know if a source is reliable or not for example.
4. Share! Share your finished timeline with others using a link or by embedding it onto a website and allow those who view your timeline to share it with social media share buttons that can be automatically added! The sharing features make it easy to share a timeline with classmates, teachers, family members or friends that might share your interest! 🤗
Example: How to make a Roman History timeline online
In just 10 weeks I’ll be moving to Italy to teach in a school in Rome and so I thought: What better topic could I pick to do an example timeline with than The Romans!?
The Roman Empire is a key focus area for Key Stage 2 history (ages 7 to 11) in the UK and is also commonly covered in the US by elementary, middle and high school students. Ancient Rome is also a major topic for kids that live in Italy as they study the history of their own local region.
Here is the Timeline of the Roman Empire that I made using ChronoFlo Timeline Maker. You can scroll back and forth to see more events and you can click on the events to find out more and see the pictures. You can also use the magnifying glass icon to change the zoom and the spacing.
So here's what I did to make my beautiful interactive Roman Empire Timeline on ChronoFlo:
1. I did a Google search to find a website with key dates in the history of the Roman Empire.
2. Typed up a list of events to be included in my timeline into a Google Doc.
3. Checked on some other websites and reliable YouTube videos to make sure the dates that I have are accurate and to see if any other events should also be included. I updated my Google Doc by adding new events and deleting others that didn’t seem as important.
4. I decided whether I would add pictures to all of my events or just some of them and found the pictures I wanted to use. (Remind your child about using images responsibility by either making their own or using Creative Commons images.)
5. Next, I signed up for a free ChronoFlo Timeline Maker account and went to the My Account area.
6. Under Create New Timeline, I typed in the title ‘Roman History’ and then I clicked on the Create new timeline button.
7. You’ll be taken to your new timeline and have the option of watching the Getting Started video, which I highly recommend watching to get an idea of what you can do with ChronoFlo.
8. Next, I clicked on the plus icon to add my first event to my new timeline.
9. Clicking on the plus icon to add a new event brings up a pane on the right where you can put in the details of your event. To begin with, you'll need to at least put in a title and the date.
A note about dates: Since the timeframe for my Roman History timeline was over hundreds of years and I only wanted the year that each event took place to be displayed, I just selected the 1st of January of whatever year it was. You could really choose any date if you're only going to have the year displayed in your timeline, but if your timeline is over a shorter timespan or the exact dates are important to you then you can select the exact date in this pane instead.
On my Roman History timeline, I also put in some more details about some of the events in the Text section. This will be displayed underneath the title and in slightly smaller text on your tim