Some of my 7- and 8-year old students recently received a lesson on the B.C./A.D. timeline. A couple of students decided they wanted to reproduce the timeline (a very long series of paper strips, divided into centuries) and illustrate important historical events on it.
One young 7-year old, a lover of history, was especially engaged with his project, pouring over books to hunt down dates for the sinking of the Titanic, the discovery of America, the building of the Great Pyramids, and the end of World War I.
At one point he approached me and said he wanted to know when the last Ice Age ended. I helped him find the information in a book, and we both learned that, according to that source, the last Ice Age ended about 35,000 years ago. He wanted to know how many centuries that was, so I took this opportunity to give an impromptu long division lesson. I gathered my older students, explained the boy’s conundrum, and asked them to take out the Racks & Tubes (a material for long division).
We set up the problem (35,000/100) and worked out the solution. The other children went back to their individual work and the boy and I returned to his timeline to ponder 350 centuries worth of history.
“The oldest century I have here is the 50th century B.C.,” he said, looking back over the 70 centuries he had marked off.
“Your timeline will need to be five times as long as it is now,” I pointed out, thinking he might not understand what he was getting himself into.
His eyes widened. “Cool!!! Where can I get more strips?”
I think we’re going to need a bigger classroom. 🙂