Timeline-ology for Homeschool HistoryTyler Hogan
Lots people come into our booth at conferences, look at our timeline examples on the wall, and start drooling. Some look and shudder with dread. But most are just looking for a good way to incorporate timelines in their studies.
Fortunately, The Mystery of History includes simple timeline assignments every week, as well as directions on how to build a super-neat timeline out of a sewing board. However, the nice thing about the assignments is that you don’t have to use that same style timeline. There’s a dozen different ways of doing them, and today I’d like to show you some pictures of timelines my friends and I did “back in the day.”
Timeline Style #1: The Poster
This is the default for a lot of people. It reads like a book and has room for you to put up figures, draw illustrations, make lines or notes, and not feel cramped. The one in the picture was made by my friend Sarah, who (if you couldn’t tell) loves to draw.
This timeline was her historical magnum opus (in highschool at least). She put in a lot of effort to make it colorful and attractive. Most people’s poster timelines are not this detailed or lovingly crafted, and that’s okay.
Timeline Style # 2: The Long Strip
One downside to the poster style is that it breaks up the view of history into rows. Some people prefer one long, running line. I’ve seen some that wrap around a whole room. They’re nice because they do a great job of of showing chronology but tricky because they tend to require more wall-space.
However, if you’re not trying to fit all of history into one timeline, you can do something like what’s shown on the picture: use lengths of cardboard tied end to end as a backing. After you decorate it, it folds up conveniently. A variation of this would be an accordion-book timeline.
Timeline Style # 3: The Notebook
This was my favorite style. I like the feel of books, and I like making my own book. This style has no storage issues, but doesn’t display as well. But at the time I wanted the timeline for my reference, not for display, so that didn’t matter. (Pardon my adolescent handwriting. It’s the one thing I hate about showing this picture. I’m much better at penmanship now, really!)
Anyhow, notebooks also allow you to set your own scale. A page could span a century or a decade depending on how much information you have to put in. There’s also infinite room for notes, figures, or even mini-folderbooks if you were so inclined.
Timeline Style # 4: The Memory Card
Some people use the memory card system (described in the book) as their timeline. Each card the the name of the lesson, the date, and the week number on one side, and 3 sentences about the lesson on the back. They can be used as flash cards, playing cards, for games (especially ones involving marshmallows), or as a timeline. Having the cards numbered is super helpful here. You can also decorate the backside, attaching figures or drawing illustrations as you see fit.
Timeline Style #5: The Topical Timeline
This isn’t so much a style as it is a reminder that not every timeline is going to cover all the events included in it’s date range. Some have a very narrow scope. This one was a timeline of 20th Century American sports. Sometimes it’s useful (especially if you’re doing unit studies) to only include information relevant to your specific topic. This could be done for history, science, arts, geography, or anything you can imagine. One of my favorite projects in college was a Mime-line: a timeline showing the history of Mime from ancient Greece to present day. (Very niche, I know. But I enjoyed it.)
All that to say, when it comes to timelines, you’ve got options. Do you like using pre-made figures, or drawing your own? Do you have kids who will work together on one timeline, or should they each have their own? Poster and strip are easy for kids to collaborate on, while notebooks and card timelines tend to be less so. Pick a style that works for your family. Whatever you do, enjoy it. Don’t stress over it. Play with it. If you’ve got any nifty ideas or new styles, tell us about them in the comments!