Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Long roll of blank paper
- Different colors of permanent markers
- Paper and pencils
- Church history resources, such as newsletters, annual reports, or one or two adults who can tell about events over a significant period of time
- Adhesive to hold the timeline onto the wall
- Music from the years of these children's birth up through the present, and music player
Preparation for Activity
- Prepare a timeline by marking a long history line and hash marks for historical events or periods. Begin at your congregation's founding and mark events that are paramount in its history or especially relevant to children, such as the building of a new religious education wing. Leave large spaces for the years that include both congregational history and the years of these children's lives.
- Find a location where half of the children can work on each side of the timeline. Make sure that the permanent markers, if they bleed through, will not damage floors or carpet.
Description of Activity
The children examine the confluence of the congregation's life and each of their lives by creating a picture that connects the children in the group with the larger congregation.
Invite children to separate into groups of up to seven. Give each group blank paper and a pencil, and ask each group to think about their personal history in terms of dates-birthdates; moving dates; the year when school began; the year they started playing sports or learning piano or doing another activity; sibling birthdates; dates of important participatory activities, including those in the congregation, if known (guesstimates are accepted). Ask them to jot down the dates and events on the paper.
Allow each group to add their individual dates to the calendar, leaving room for others. Caution that everyone in the room is relatively the same age, so it is likely the dates will be close together and practicing good manners is necessary. Ask one group to work from one side while the other group works from the other.
Help individuals add dates, occasionally asking all to pause while you add an important congregational history event among their personal dates.
Give a two-minute warning. Then guide the group to attach the timeline to the wall, with the invitation to add more information next time you meet (if you may leave the timeline up from week to week).
Ask participants for their observations about the timeline-not how it looks, but what they can learn from it. Ask them:
- Who else's history could be added?
- Have there been local, national, or global events that have touched the congregation in some way?
- Where has our congregation's history intersected your personal history? (Sometimes a congregational event has specific meaning for a child or their family.)
Ask them to help one another clean up, and thank them for their participation.
Including All Participants
For mobility restricted participants, ask someone else to add their history or wait until the timeline is done and the participant can add their information to the timeline after it is posted.