Thursday, September 10, 2009

yesterday's history/science/math lesson!

For history this year, dh and I decided that we would like to do one big, overall review of all of human history, just touching on the "main stuff", but not going into a huge amount of depth in any one area. We want to give Samuel an overall framework so that when we do study things in greater depth later on, he'll know how they fit into the big picture. We've already been doing some reading about early human migration, ancient civilizations, the rise of agriculture, etc.

I wanted to give him some visuals about the scope of time, and a Montessori- style ribbon seemed to be just the thing. There was one in the Atrium that we used to attend, and it was great for putting things into perspective for the kids. I didn't know what the scale and dimensions were for that one, so I did some math and figured out one that would work for us. So, here it is! (Apologies for poor picture quality throughout - as I mentioned here, I broke the camera, so it's like having a film camera again! I can't see what I took until I upload everything. It was too hot outside for a redo!)

Each ridge on the grosgrain ribbon represents one million years. Yep, you read that right. 1,000,000. To help give your child a sense of how many one million is, I really recommend the book A Million Dots. You're probably thinking, this is going to be a short ribbon, with a million years per ridge! Well, there are about 25 ridges to an inch, so 4 inches is 100 million years. So, it takes 40 inches to reach one billion years. So, if we start at the beginning of the universe, approximately 14.5 billion years ago...

Time keeps going...

...and going...

Hey! What's that color change? We decided to change the ribbon to brown at around the time the earth formed, around 4.5 billion years ago.

And another color change! We decided to make it green when the first life was created, around 3 billion years ago. What? The ribbon is yellow? Ah, yes, that would be because the craft store was out of green! I'll redo it when they restock. :)

And here we are at present day. Humans have been here for about one-fifth of one ridge, or 200,000 years. So, obviously, we won't be using this ribbon for marking events in human history. We'll have another one for that! But it was fun to guess when the dinosaurs were alive, when the sun and moon formed, and things like that.

If you'd like to make your own ribbon, here are the dimensions. Obviously, the dates are all approximations, so if you're off by a few million here or there, no big deal. :)

Blue (representing time from the Big Bang until the formation of the earth): 33 feet, or 10 billion years.

Brown (representing time from the formation of the earth to the creation of the first life forms): 5 feet, or 1.5 billion years.

Green (representing time from the creation of life until the present): 10 feet, or 3 billion years.

This will give you a total of 48 feet, or 14.5 billion years. Happy learning!


Heath said...

Wait a minute . . . I thought God created the world 6000 years ago?

Wendy said...

Fantastic! I think we'll try that!