Drawing a Bible Timeline: Engaging Kids In the Holy Scriptures

"Let the Little Children Come Unto Me"

"Yes, Jesus Loves Me" (jigsaw puzzle)
"Yes, Jesus Loves Me" (jigsaw puzzle)

Reading Straight From the Scriptures

Reading straight from the Scriptures was an important part of my mother's teaching in my family's homeschool. She most often chose the New international Version, and didn't skip any parts. She read an average of two chapters per day, as this allowed us to move clear through the Bible in about a year and a half.

I didn't realize at the time the gift she gave my siblings and I, in making the raw Word of God as natural a part of our lives as eating breakfast and doing chores. It was only after I had been at Bible college some months that I saw clearly how much richer this daily reading had made me, compared to my peers. Many of them did not know the Bible's worth, it's thoughts and concepts, nor how to take it at face value. I was already ahead of some of the graduates at the Bible college in my first semester.

I want to share with you an activity that helped make this possible, and made my interest in this daily reading keen. It made David's sin with Bathsheba real and relevant. It made the six days of Creation part of my mental make-up, and wrought in me a wonder and curiosity and - what would it have been like, do you think, to meet with God in the Holy of Holies, the innermost room of the tabernacle?

Homemade Bible Timelines

The tool my mother used to develop and keep my interest was a Bible timeline. She took a roll of calculator paper, handed me some markers or crayons, and began to read. While she read, I listened until I had an idea of what the passage was about, then proceeded to draw on the roll a picture of what I considered to be an important event. Afterward, it was fun to show her my interpretations.

As we read new chapters each day, I unrolled my paper to a fresh spot, marked the Scripture reference, and drew that day's picture(s). The Old Testament wars and scandals were especially fun, as they presented many options.

My little sister's interpretations were often hilarious, especially if she tried to draw someone looking angry. They more often than not appeared as if their noses had been broken, or sometimes as if they were competing in a cuteness contest, with soft round eyes and wide smiles. (I think these were supposed to have been grimaces.) Have you ever seen a cute Moses, throwing down the tablets inscribed with the 10 Commandments? It's a sight to behold.

Of course, not all things were easy to make memorable. Try figuring out how to draw pictures of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. Or the long lamentations in Job. However, even this aspect of the timelines was profitable, as it forced us to listen, apply the concepts to our own knowledge base and situations, and try to make sense of them. Eventually, we always came up with something unique and descriptive.

My all-time favorite from the collection of timeline pictures is the "Apple Dude", as we came to call him. I was hoping to include a picture of him, but my timeline seems to be lost. He was an extremely fat king, and his story is told in Judges 3:12-30. The man Ehud slew him with a short sword, and "the haft also went in after [the blade], and the fat closed over it..." Whichever of us drew him (I don't know now whether it was my sister or I) colored his clothing red. He appeared like a great, round red apple sitting on the throne, with a grinning Ehud thrusting in the sword.

As you can see, even though the timeline didn't last, I haven't forgotten the imprints of the Bible which it made on my brain.

Tips for Helping Your Child Create a Timeline

Bible timelines don't have to be fancy, or even correct as far as the laws of art, the universe, or the cultures of the Bible are concerned. But, to give your child(ren) the best shot at drawing something they can be proud of, and even look back to to help themselves understand the Bible, consider these tips:

  • Provide your child(ren) with plenty of ideas for Bible-time costumes
  • Help them understand the differences between our society and the society of Israel
  • Don't skip parts of the Bible that you deem above your child's level, confusing, too adult, or boring - you never know what God may use to teach your child's mind and heart
  • Consider doing "outside" activities, such as trying foods mentioned in the current passage, or helping your child make a sling like David used
  • Let your child's drawings alone, and take time, if s/he wishes, to allow him/her to explain them to you
  • Provide a choice in art mediums; this is an opportunity to explore drawing concepts as well as the Bible
  • Provide your child with at least 15 minutes to complete a sketch
  • Offer subject ideas where needed - when your child asks, usually
  • Most of all, have fun!

Small Paper Rolls for Making Timelines

An Interesting History Tool - History Timeline Integrator

© 2009 Joy At Home

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Share Your Timeline Ideas Here, Please 16 comments

nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

A timeline is a great idea because events are given a temporal context, which is how history is commonly taught in school. Great hub!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Wow, nicomp, I hadn't had this hub up more than two minutes when your comment showed up.

You're right, teaching history chronologically is often an effective route. There will always be things missed (no teacher can cover everything, and no child can pay attention 100%), but the gaps can always be filled in with more specifics later on. A timeline is a way to catch the big concepts.

Thanks for you compliment.


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I think it is important to read all of the Bible, not just skip and choose. Currently my husband has been reading to the boys out of I Kings. They know much about the world, current events and culture because of the many subjects presented. When they are a bit older I want to make some mini timeline with them, covering Israel's history.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Ivorwen, I so agree that the Bible, in its entirity, is an excellent tool for teaching current events and building a concept of the world and universe. There is no subject that is not at least touched on.

Let me know how the timeline works for you and your boys.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

Great idea! You could use the timeline idea for studying other history too.

Also, thank you for linking my article!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

You're welcome (about the link), Rose, and yes, we did use the timeline idea for other areas of history as well. We used larger rolls of paper for some topics (butcher paper size, in some cases), and used pictures clipped from magazines, copies of relevant documents, and even objects, such as feathers or leather or coins. I'm sure the opportunities for appropriate pictures and ideas are almost limitless, now that the internet is so much a part of our lives.


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Joy At Home, Thank you for these lovely ideas! I read the Scriptures along with my children when they were at home as well. I now read Bible stories to my Grandchildren whenever they are visiting. They so enjoy the Word! You have shared how wonderful it is that those times are etched into your memory. This was delightful! Thank you for this wonderful and inspiring hub! Blessings!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

DeBorrah, thanks so much for the encouragement. It is lovely to have you stop by. If you try any of these ideas with the young'uns, let me know how it goes.


JimmieWriter profile image

JimmieWriter 5 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

Fantastic idea! We've done some Bible timelines, but not exactly how you've described it. I really like this idea and need to look for some adding machine paper.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

Jimmie,

I hope you have as much fun with it as we did!


Avamum profile image

Avamum 5 years ago from Canada

What a wonderful idea to really engage kids in what you are reading to them. Your two are lucky to have such a creative mom and grandmother!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

Avamum,

Thank you for your beautiful compliments. I will pass them on to the grandmother!


thebookmom profile image

thebookmom 5 years ago from Nebraska

Can't wait to try this with my girls!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

Thebookmom,

Have fun! I hope they enjoy it as much as we did!


joyathome profile image

joyathome 4 years ago from USA

That is such a good idea! The Bible is the best book in the world.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 4 years ago from United States Author

Joyathome,

Agreed! :-D I was lucky to have such a creative teacher.

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