Timeline Puzzle

12 Feb

Complete Puzzle

We’re studying The Revolutionary War for American history right now (as is obvious by a previous post I made), and I wanted my son to remember various events in order, and the people associated with these events. For some reason the idea of doing a puzzle came to mind.


Step 1 – Getting the Puzzle Pieces

At first I was going to fight with different pieces of paper and creating my own puzzle pieces, and then I thought, Why not just find puzzle pieces online? Yeah, sometimes I overthink it and make myself more work than is necessary. Anyway, I did a quick search online and in a few minutes had a suitable “puzzle piece.” I thought it was best to use the same-shaped puzzle piece so all the pieces would fit the same way and my son couldn’t “cheat” and only put the pieces together based on their shapes and not of his knowledge of the subject. Then came the fun part, print and cut.

I thought cutting out the footprints for my “Steps to the Revolutionary War” project was a pain. WRONG! Basic curving lines that make a generally large blobby shape aren’t that bad really. Try cutting out puzzle pieces instead. Lots of them.

cutting out pieces


Obviously the number of puzzle pieces* you are going to need will depend on how many events (or whatever your subject is – words for definitions, people to remember, etc.) you need to include in your puzzle, but be sure to cut a few extra in case of any mistakes you or your child makes.

Of course, you can reduce your own workload by having your child doing the cutting and labeling, but due to our time constraints, and the fact I thought the project was more about my child knowing what went where, I did the cutting and labeling and allowed for him to just do the arranging and gluing.

*Note: The puzzle pieces shown are pretty good-sized puzzle pieces (covered about a half of an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper), but you could shrink or enlarge them to meet your needs. Obviously, if you have a longer timeline span you want to cover, you might want to use smaller pieces to fit more in the area you desire.

Step 2 – Labeling

up close puzzle pieces

The labeling is obviously the key to the whole puzzle. All your key information will be on various pieces of the puzzle. You can choose to label everything in black marker, or do it like I did, by having the dates in black marker, and then add a bit of variety by writing the other information in various other colors. If letting your child do the lettering, then just have a sheet with the required labelings for the different pieces and let them choose the colors they decide to use.

Just remember not to have the items and events in order on the labeling sheet if you choose to leave one for the child. They won’t have to think to put it in order if you do that – and that somewhat defeats the purpose of the project!

Step 3 – Arranging

This is the fun part – doing the actual puzzle! Have your child put the timeline in order along with the matching dates and other information you have included to go with the puzzle. Maybe drop a little hint that it’s easier to put the dates in order first and then fit the pieces with information that goes with those date around it. Once your child has it done, check it and make sure everything is where it needs to be. If it’s not, it’s up to him or her to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. Check it again until it’s correct.

working on the puzzle

Step 4 – Gluing

Gluing is a pretty tedious part of this project (if we assume the cutting was done by the parent.) I had my son glue his creation on three large pieces of construction paper (12″ x 18″ I believe) that were taped in back and glued down along the “seams” in front. Then he painstakingly glued his puzzle down piece by piece. Make sure your child has the foresight to start the puzzle far enough to the left that there will be room for all the pieces you have to fit across lengthwise, and high enough so there are enough for the pieces to fit height or width-wise.

Once it’s finished your child will have a great project to show off and a great way to review the information!

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6 Responses

  1. Ticia says:

    I love the puzzle idea!

  2. Janine says:

    I love this idea because you can use it for so many other projects. I will use it for number and alphabetic sequencing. Thanks for posting it.

  3. Jennifer says:

    You are so full of good ideas. I love this one! If you find a pre-cut version of the puzzle pieces let me know.

  4. admin says:

    Yeah, I don’t know of any pre-cut versions right now, but I think I came across a machine that will do the cutting for you. I’m not 100% sure how that works, but when I stumbled across it online I was thinking how I would have liked to have had it for these puzzle pieces.

  5. Deanna says:

    I found your blog through Cafe Mom. The puzzle is a great idea! My boys might enjoy this- I think I will have them try it. 🙂

  6. admin says:

    Hope they enjoy it and glad my site could be of some use to you.

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