Understanding the concept of time is a developmental process. The child enters kindergarten interested in young and old as it relates to him. During their first or second year of school the teacher may have students make simple personal time lines complete with baby pictures and events that the children recall. Sequencing events leads to charts that designate who has what task during the day or week. The teacher usually assures the class everyone will have a turn. This suggests that you will have your turn and that your turn will come again. You just have to wait! Class task assignments are augmented by the addition of art, physical education and music schedules. The cycle of the seasons is usually introduced as part of the science curriculum. At about seven years of age telling time has been mastered and some children may become fascinated with more complex schedules. They all know when their favorite television shows are on. It isn’t until around ten years of age that, “the child is better oriented with respect to historic time. “(Gessell 427). Now the child has become confident with the concepts of years, dates and minutes. The fourth grader understands long division, decimals and fractions. He can apply the math he has learned to solve problems. There is an advance in creative and abstract thinking. This is an excellent time to develop an appreciation of historical time.
In this unit the idea of time is important. One hundred fifty years ago the Civil War was about to begin and New Haven was a world leader in the manufacturing of horse drawn carriages. One hundred fifty million years ago a rift in the central part of our state developed as the African Continent pulled away from what was to become North America. How can we approach these types of time spans?
A valuable starting place is a variation on the time line that can be used to refine the idea of past time.