Taking Time to do Timelines

Nothing beats a wall chart, timeline  or Book of Centuries to get a wonderful overview of  history.

Our timeline is full and crowded at the end of each year –

clusters of events, inventions, major changes and important people …

The kids’ frugal timeline book/ Book of Centuries look interesting …

After using timelines and Book of Centuries for over 14 years of homeschooling,

I learnt that ~

  • children seldom remember exact dates
  • timelines show relationships and links to people and events
  • my kids often link events to an existing event clearly dated in their heads – “Oh, that was just before the Civil War…”
  • they link time to eras and fashions“Oh, that was during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign …”
  • historical movies and DVDs are an excellent tool in relating to eras and events – “Yes, like in Pearl Harbor/ Little Women …”
  • my kids don’t think in timelines – but I do!
  • timelines are a learning stylenot everyone learns in a linear overview
  • I love an “overview” – a bird’s-eye view of history
  • my kids love detail – focus on here and now
  • timeline activities are great for introductions and conclusions to themes
  • timelines lack detail, but can offer good prompts
  • timelines are great tools to discuss, compare, link causes and effects, show consequences
  • we need to schedule time each week to fill in details on our wall chart/ timeline/ BOC
  • my kids generally just “get the job done” – no real joy here
  • the kids love to look back over what they have done and see what they’ve covered

Having said all this, I believe in timelines and personal Books of Centuries.

We will continue to jot down details each week, summarize themes and list important people and events on our timelines.

How have your children enjoyed/ participated in or applied their timelines ?


9 thoughts on “Taking Time to do Timelines

  1. I love the list. Thank you for making time to put down all those insights. I learned alot and it is freeing to realize that even enjoyable things often begin with a little discipline before it simply flows. I will always remember what my calligraphy prof said…learn the letter BEFORE you flourish. I must als0 not forget to include the films. I am visual and all my life films have been a wonderful teacher to me. It makes sense in history to use films as it often ties those other elements into the story like fashion, inventions, art, music etc without much effort. It also makes a lasting impression. I always enjoy reading how you are doing things…your children are blessed with such a rich and varied school you are giving them.


    • @amydumas, I saved the carnival images to my computer and loaded them to my blog media file. Then I added these images (sized small) to my sidebar. My widgets don’t always ‘read’ codes (and I’m too clueless to work it out 🙂 )


  2. I think I like our BOC much more than my daughter does, although she is starting to enjoy it more now that I am encouraging her to include tiny drawings about the entry. She likes coming up with something unique to draw. I ask her to put at least one entry in our BOC each week, and it is usually the last day of the week before it gets done. I have a box on our schedule for it which must be checked off, otherwise it would probably be forgotten.

    Like you mentioned, we seem to remember events in relation to other events, rather than by particular dates, but I also am learning that if I know one particular date then I know the general dates of the other events or people that I have related to it. Which, by the way, is great progress for me. I always hated memorizing dates and was consequently terrible at it! :~)


    • @amydumas, Good suggestion – to let your child draw a small image to the entry. My kids love to draw too. This year I hope to offer a page of clip art relevant to our studies and let them paste these in as well. I Love the accountability of a check box for weekly BOC work!


  3. I’m a timeline person too! I love the way they help me to hang one fact upon another (I don’t think children are the only ones who seldom remember exact dates!! ;).

    YES for scheduling time! Once it becomes a habit, I’m pretty sure the kids usually begin to look forward to putting in special connections they’ve made… that said, forcing it too much can take the joy right out of it. I’ve found making my own and then they seeing me pull it out at random moments has helped immensely with the delight factor.

    YES for links! These connections are what make learning a delight seeing how we… all people… all things relate to all other people… all other things… oh, the science of relations is a beautiful thing. 🙂


  4. We’ve done some work on timelines, but not as consistently as we probably should.
    Yes, the children do enjoy looking back over the pictures and remembering the stories learned about the people and events. I like seeing how so many things can be happening around the world, and then there’s a meeting place (eg: Genghis Khan & European history) that makes an ‘aha’ moment to piece everything together.


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