Timelines were something I stressed over when we began homeschooling. I looked at the options we could purchase, but couldn’t find something that fit our lifestyle. So, I put up a blank, homemade, timeline. It covered all of history, divided neatly into 100 year segments, a century on a piece of 8.5 by 11 paper. All I did was draw a line in pencil across each piece of paper in the same spot and label the start and end of the line with a year.
It turned out that our dining room was perfectly sized to accommodate the entire timeline, taped up, end to end, around the walls of room.
When My Kids Were Little, The Timeline Was Full of Pictures and Art
We started with the timeline taped on the walls about 3 feet off the floor. My kids were shorter then and I wanted them to be able to reach the timeline, bring it down, write on it, and then put it back up by themselves.
We started the history cycle which begins at Ancient Times and ends in the Modern Era over a period of a few years, only to repeat when the kids were older. While they both wrote dates and names and places on the timeline, my kids are very visually-focused and so the timeline became an art wall as well. They added drawings, sketches, paintings, and even three dimensional paper sculptures and yarn and fabric creations.
Later We Added Science & Technology To The Timeline
As the timeline developed and the empty pages on the wall were filled with more and more art and dates and descriptions of events and people’s lives, my kids decided that the history of science needed to be on the timeline as well. It made sense to me – after all, wasn’t science actually the history of man’s understanding of the world?
And so up went the development of the wheel, and the chariot, and the microscope, and everything in between. Our timeline was becoming a record of everything my children learned in our homeschool adventure. If it had a date associated with it (even literature), well then up it went onto the timeline.
As My Kids Neared The End of The Logic Stage, The Timeline Changes Again
Now my kids were getting older and beginning to use all their accumulated knowledge as a backdrop and framework by which they could evaluate a historical event. And so the timeline now became a place to add 3 by 5 cards with written summaries and later, written examinations and evaluations of events and what might have caused or motivated them. My kids began to develop their own overarching theories about humanity and historical events.
And Now We Come To High School
This summer I took the timeline down. My kids no longer use it and frankly, it was falling down and had been taped back up in so many places that much of it was more tape than paper.
My kids are beginning their high school years. All the information on the timeline is in their heads. They no longer refer to it or add to it. The type of history we do together now results in written papers and discussions, not slips of paper and art projects.
The Timeline How-To and Download
I wrote a post a number of years back describing how to set up a timeline that includes a download of a timeline template as well as a pack of logic stage forms that you can print and put in a binder for your kids to keep track of.
Here is what is included in the download:
- Cities and Settlements
- Daily Life
- Art and Music
- Books and Stories
- Philosophy and Logic
- Science and Math
- Inventions and Technology
- Wars, Conflicts, and Politics
- Great Men and Women
Helper Pages (7):
- Timeline Directions
- Narration How To
- Outline How To
- Summary How To
- Report How To
- How To Do A Rough Draft
- How To Create A Final Writing Copy
Timeline Template (1)Logic Stage Binder Forms, Helper Printouts, and Timeline Template
So What To Do With The Timeline Now?
I took the timeline down. I cleaned each page with a damp cloth (yes the pages were really, really dusty) and then punched them with a 3-hole punch. Finally I placed our timeline is a binder (a really big binder to hold all the pages) and put it on the coffee table.
We still have our timeline this way, but we also have our dining room back. I think I will keep that timeline always. It is a better reminder of all the years spent with my kids when they were young than any photo album could be. It is filled with their writing, their misspellings, and their art. It is a record of their learning, but it is also a record of their growth and development from young creative children who scribbled and colored and misspelled their way through a history lesson, to the young adults I live with today.
And that is more precious than anything right now.