Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Oral Language Development & Making a Family Timeline (Family Literacy #10)

This is another post in our series on the role of parental involvement in children's literacy, which presents ideas for Family Literacy Workshop activities taken from Family Literacy Workshops for Preschool through Grade 6: A Research Based Approach, and offers free activity downloads and further instruction on how to hold successful family literacy workshops at your school and tips for taking literacy home. Most Tuesdays you can check back here and find this kind of content. You can see the earlier posts here.

The workshop ideas presented over the next few weeks' work of posts will help parents learn new skills in order to increase their child’s oral language development through structured and unstructured activities. Today's topic is making a family timeline. You can download the blank reproducible timeline at the bottom of the page.

Oral language is the foundation of reading and writing. Oral language isdeveloped through the introduction and use of vocabulary that children do notalready know or use frequently. We must think about the vocabulary we use with children and how we explain unfamiliar words.

Workshop Activity — Making a Family Timeline

Families will increase their conversation and bond over this enjoyable activity.
Parents will create a timeline of their lives, talking about each memory as they
record it. Children will learn more about their parents as they engage in a rich oral
language interaction.

Using the blank reproducible timeline, ask parents to create a timeline of their life beginning at birth and ending with “today.”

— Parents should explain the events to their child as they write them on the timeline. They should talk about the significance of the event and any other interesting facts that led them to write it down.

— Instruct parents to ask their children questions during the activity. Remind the parents to avoid asking yes or no questions like, “Do you remember that day?” Below are examples of questions that parents might ask:

• “Here is when mommy started first grade. How did you feel when you started
first grade?” Or, “How did you feel on your first day of school?”

• “This is the day your little brother was born. Can you tell me what happened
that day?” Or, “How did you feel when your brother was born?”

— Children should illustrate the timeline, drawing pictures that represent the
stories told by their parents.

Don’t Get Stuck!

Provide parents some timeline ideas to get them started:

• Birthdate
• Baptism/Bar Mitzvah, etc.
• Played on a sports team
• Started school
• Moved to another house, city, state
• Started working at ______
• Learned how to drive
• Bought a car
• Bought a house
• Marriage date
• First child was born

Offer the parents multiple copies of the reproducible timeline, so they can write (and their children can draw) as large as they want to. Tell them they can tape their sheets to the wall in sequence—if their timeline gets very long, they could display it along a hallway at child-eye-level. Or offer them space on one of the walls at school! When they are finished displaying it, they can punch holes in the edge and bind the pages together with yarn, to have a keepsake family history book.


Below is the timeline sheet to download. Remember to check back frequently for another post on Family Literacy!

- Tara Rodriquez

family timeline