Drawing a Bible Timeline: Engaging Kids In the Holy Scriptures
"Let the Little Children Come Unto Me"
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!
An Interesting History Tool - History Timeline Integrator
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