The Hand Time-Line

Setting the Scene;

Do you remember how Humans came when everything was ready for them?

What did they need?…yes, air, food, materials, water etc

When they came what special gifts did they have?…. Yes, heart to love, brain to think and imagine and hands to work)


Involve the children as you tell the story, asking questions, while slowly unrolling the mat.

What do you think the people were doing when they began to live on the Earth?

(shelter, food, protection, communication, hunting, gathering, having parties).

What do you think helped the people do this?

There is a clue on the this timeline, keep watching for it.

Oh! here it is a hand holding something, what could it be? …yes, it’s a special stone, a hand axe, used all over the world by people.

What do you think they could do with it?

(cut, tear, break)

What else do you think they could use their hands to do?

(sew, create jewellery, gather fruit, catch fish, build houses, make things, collect wood, hold each others hands, paint on caves, play a tune with a reed pipe, drum)


Do you remember that we said the people told stories to each other about what happened to them and why they thought it happened?  After a very long time Humans found a way to write it down so that they could record what they did and what they knew and then nothing would be forgotten.


The Hand Time-Line – Notes

Material Description:

The material is a piece of heavy black fabric measuring 30 centimetres by 3 metres with a  picture of a hand holding a hand axe fixes to the centre and a 1 centimetre by 30 centimetre strip at the end, white marks (2.5 cm long by 2mm wide) appear at intervals of 15 centimetres.  The fabric is wound around a wooden dowel.

The material is used in am impressionistic way to put written history into the context of the whole of human history.   The black fabric represents the symbolic one million years of human history and the red strip approximately 4,000 years, the white markers are used to represent 50,000 years.  The hand axe represents the basic stone tool used all over the globe.



After the three Great stories and the Black Strip, we present the special gift of the Human Hand in more detail now that the Story of the Coming of Humans has been given.



  • To give the child an impression of the length of time humans have been on Earth in comparison to the length of written records.  This opens us the idea that there is evidence of the life of Humans before written records (Pre-History).
  • Builds child’s appreciation of the intelligence of Humanity, introducing the child to the further activities of Human Beings and the significance of the invention of Communication.
  • Children are invited to imagine what human beings were doing before written records began.





  • The Hand was chosen by Maria Montessori over the fossil record because of the psychic idea that our knowledge about humans discovered the written record can be discovered through hands.
  • The accuracy of the child’s imaginings of pre-history is less important than using the imagination to build essence ideas about the strategies human’s used to meet physical needs.
  • A balance is sought between the presentation of prehistory and history by stressing that though most of human history is unrecorded, the beginning of the written record was of enormous significance.


When to give the lesson:

Give the lesson after the three Great Stories and the Black strip.


After the lesson:

The children have the time to reflect or answer questions if they wish.


Follow up work:

Preparation for the Cosmic Story of the ‘Recording of Thoughts and Ideas – The Story of Communication through Signs’ and later the Story of Number.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply