Create a “No-fail” Unit study

Recently Hannah Savage shared her “no-fail” Viking unity study on Instagram. She wisely shared,

“When I see my job through the lens of laying a feast without tying my success to an idealized outcome, I free up my heart to enjoy the unit with them for however long it lasts and whatever it ends up looking like. My “low stakes” approach feels like a friendly invitation to them rather than a tight-knuckled force feeding. It’s an awareness many (many) fumbles in this homeschool life have taught me.”


Lovely, right? It sounds like my recommendation to offer a learning buffet and allow your children to choose what they want from a delightful array of books, projects and options.

Among all her wonderful resources she found for her unit study, she linked to my free Viking Paper Men and Dolls.

If you looking for a wide variety of ideas for your children to express their learning, I have created a Narrations Ideas Booklet filled with over 100 creative project optionsalternative suggestions, practical tips and templates for every age and learning style. You can order your booklet on my Packages page.

May Hannah’s “no-fail” unit study approach inspire you to be brave and creative and curate your own “no-fail” unit study on themes or topics your children are passionate about!

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

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Knights – New Paper Dolls

We have updated our Middle Ages paper dolls and men.

I have created a new page with a Knight and his armor and weapons.



The young squire dressed the knight, layering all the underclothes, chain-mail, armor and coat of arms tunic and weapons.  If kids follow the list of armor given on the page with the knight man, they will dress the knight correctly.

There are also 2 pages with a Medieval Man’s clothes, including clothes worn by the poor peasant, merchant or wealthy man.


The Middle Ages lady pages now include clothes worn by peasants, merchants and the wealthy Medieval lady.  These detailed illustrations and labels will give a child a real understanding of the clothing and lifestyle of the era.


This is a wonderful ‘keep-those-hands-busy’ activity for kids to make while you read aloud!

Pop over to my Free Pages and check out all the paper dolls & men!


Fun History!

What a shock my kids had when I walked into the room like this!

(Excuse the slightly blurred photo.  My 10-year-old was giggling too much to focus the camera properly!)

It was a great way to introduce the British Occupation at the Cape and the 1820 British Settlers for our Footprints On Our Land history curriculum.

All Miss.L10’s narrations were done with the mask and a most ‘proper’ British accent!

(And lots of giggles from Miss.K13 studying in the background!)

Some novelty and fun makes History fresh and exciting!

Hope you and your kids have fun now and then!


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 ?


World War II Notebook Pages, Maps, Timelines & Online Resources

An Observer Corps Spotter on a rooftop in London.

World War II

As with our WWI studies, I wanted to present a brief overview to World War II events, rather than to do a detailed study.  I felt that if any topic raised someone’s particular interest, we would delve into it a little deeper.

Most my children’s existing knowledge of World War II has come through movies.  As a family, we had watched a few WWII classic movies, such as the BBC’s  The Battle of Britain and The Great Escape and the modern release of Pearl Harbor.

I find that holocaust movies can be deeply disturbing.  We selectively guide our children’s viewing of these films.  We watched The Diary of Anne Frank  and The Boy with Striped Pyjamas.

For our History studies, I wanted to create a type of “skeleton” or framework on which they can attach all their existing and new knowledge.

Timeline activities and map work seemed the best method to use.

I spent several hours researching for online resources and there is a stack out there!

I use OneNote for all my web research and notebook preparation.  I simply copy and paste anything I find on the internet on One New Side Note.

What is wonderful about this Microsoft tool (part of the Office package) is that ~

1. it saves everything for you automatically automatically places the url hyperlink under the clip when you copy and paste a picture, quote, table or whatever.  I use these hyperlinks to go back to the original website or use these references to complete my lapbook organizer or bibliography with one click!

3. you can easily organize your notebooks, filing and creating sections, tabs and new notebooks as you go, or afterwards

Recommended Websites on World War Two:

For the best overviews:

History Animated

A brilliant website with animated maps, timelines and original audio recording, radio broadcasts and famous speeches.  Highly recommended!  Go here to view WWII in Europe and Africa with an outstanding animation of the Battle of Britian.  They also cover the entire WWII Pacific wars and include animated maps with audio of the Japanese Onslaught, America Fights Back and battles on various islands in the Pacific.

History on the Net

They have an excellent site with photos, timelines and free printable notes.  They also include some online word searches and quizzes.

Work online on the excellent interactive map of WWII with more notes on the side.  (Excellent visual presentation)

History Of War Online

Here are stacks of links to maps, photos, documents, stories and even recordings of the war.

(I love audio recordings – great for auditory learners and learning with busy hands!)

BBC – History: World War II

With expandable index and excellent notes.



World Leaders & Famous Speeches:

Audio recordings of soldiers, civilians and survivors:

Main battles and events:

Pearl Harbor: An excellent animated map of the attack at Pearl Harbor with audio and full click details on the images on the map. Pop back to my New Pearl Harbor Lapbook post

Free WWII Notebook Pages:

(Click the title for your free download)

These come in 3 different layouts.  We combine our minibooks and notebook pages.

I created a concertina-folded timeline to paste into our Book of Centuries.  This way the war “unfolds” 🙂 for the child  and gives them a bird’s-eye view.  This 9 page download comes with detailed timeline notes that the child can use to write their own time line events.

Children colour in the different countries according to whether they are Axis, Allies, Neutral and Occupied Territories on a world map.  Coloured map of Europe during the war is also included.



World War I Minibooks and Notebook Pages

One-page minibooks are my favourite minibooks because you can tell a whole story on one page. With just 3 folds and a snip, and refolded, it becomes an 8 page booklet filled with info.

(Have you downloaded my one-page minibook templates yet?)

I created several minibooks and notebook pages for our study of

World War I

The first minibook covers the most important events of the war which I adapted from this excellent online animated book of WWI.

The second minibook is about WWI warfare, including trenches, guns, tanks, airships and airplanes.

I made a vocabulary and definitions minibook and created a crossword, word search and match words worksheets to reinforce the new vocabulary. I love the simple worksheet maker at PuzzleFast Instant Puzzle Maker.   You just types the words and their meanings, and you can select whichever game you want and it creates it for you in a jiffy!  Using the same imput you can select several puzzles at a click.

I made World War I notebook pages in 3 variations.  We combine our minibooks and notebook pages.

We concluded our study by writing in all the main events and dates on our Book of Centuries.

You can download your WWI pages here:



Frugal Timeline Book

We regularly use our Timeline Chart.

P1070785About once every 2 weeks we stick the relevant pictures on our chart.

A wall chart  timeline is a great tool to give children a “Bird’s eye” overview.

It is wonderful tool for younger children.

A timeline chart covers a huge period of time in a fairly small space.

It can get crowded!

(We have even added an extra piece to the side of our chart one year.)

In the past, I used a timeline that ran around the walls of our school room.  The children used to beg to climb up on the high chair to stick on the clipart, and it never was an issue that it was high up above the bookshelves.
P1070520When we did our South African History curriculum, we used our first Book of Centuries.

Because we studying a shorter period of the timeline, it was a wonderful tool for each child to use.

They recorded information, dates, names, titles of books we read, pictures and maps.

It became a very personal book.

Younger children cannot  ‘see the time’ in a book as well as they can on a wall chart or a timeline that runs around a room.

As our studies for next year is American History, it is also a short period of history, and I thought we should use timeline books combined with out Timeline Chart.

I found several templates and instructions on the internet, but I wanted to use the nature study books I had on hand. Frugal inspiration.

With a few calculations, some dates written in calligraphy, and index cut out along the side, I created 2 Timeline Books in an afternoon.  Quick and cheap!

I hope that my middle school child will fill it with plenty of details, pictures, illustrations and information.

I trust that my younger junior school child will keep track of events with brief notes she may copy.

We will still use our Sonlight timeline pictures.

I have highlighted them in green.

(I labelled all our American History books  in green with our Sonlight purchase.)

I clipped them together in their respective centuries, ready in a Ziplock bag near our chart.

Using the wall chart as well as their timeline books, the children will see the events, famous people, inventions and significant moments  in time and in perspective, and in write about them in more detail.

Some tips:

  1. Some children are global thinkers and need to see the full picture.  They enjoy placing some key events on their timelines before they study the theme.
  2. Let young children write their names (and important family member’s names) on their birth dates on the timeline.
  3. Encourage your children to note important/ significant historical events they already know on the chart or timeline.  (Christ’s birth/Christ’s death, and modern events like Sept 11th)
  4. Use a highlighter to colour historical ages or eras. (e.g.: the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution)
  5. Practice counting in 5’s, 10’s and 100’s. Count in decades and centuries.
  6. Explain vocabulary like century and decades, BC and AD.

I have made a summary of the Book of Centuries and Timeline instructions you can download here ~ How to make Book of Centuries.

I trust this will help you to make your own timeline wall chart or timeline books!

This post was featured on Carnival of Homeschooling: 42 Edition at Home Spun Juggling.  Click here if you wish to submit an article to the next carnival.

Carnival of Homeschooling



How do I use the Art Era Timeline?

Here are some tips and practical ideas on how to use your downloaded Art Era Timelines.

Bind the downloads as an Art Book of the Centuries ~

Francesco Petrarca. Portrait belonging to the ...

Image via Wikipedia

I bound my printout and made a simple spiral bound book and we use it to reference our artist or art movement.

The book format works well if you  flip through the pages to find artist.  Your children may recognise the thumbnail of the work studied.  They will also notice other works of the same art style.

Your children may need to transfer the dates to a more formal timeline for clarity.

We use a Wall Chart ~

This is a wonderful method because the children can see in one glance, where and when events and eras took place in relation to other events in History.


Timeline Wall Chart

I made this chart myself on the back of our Large World Map.  I divided the vertical space into the centuries from 5000 BC to 2000 AD and divided the lines across in decades.

My timeline zigzags to form a flowing timeline.

I coloured some of the timeline eras in different colours; the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution etc.

Also, because I covered the wall chart in packaging tape to protect it, we write details on our wall chart with coloured white board markers.

This is how we use our Art Era Timeline on the Wall Chart:

  • We write the artist’s name and birthdate and stick the picture of the artist or the thumbnail of his most famous works on the timeline.
  • We use a different colour for different art eras and mark off all the years that the art movement occurred.
  • We only update the timeline once a week, or even less.  I find it helpful for an introduction to an artist.
  • The kids look for the year and write the name of the artist above his biographic dates.
  • It is also a good way of concluding a study.  When we have finished studying an artist, we update the timeline and see how his works fit into an era.

As you can see, the chart does get crowded.  This is the only disadvantage of a smaller scale wall chart.

Here you can see the timeline figures I use ~


Timeline Figures

These came with my first kindergarten Sonlight purchase. They did not come with all the artists we have studied. We make/ draw/ download pictures of famous artists for the timeline.

I coloured the edges of my figures to help distinguish between the different history cores I was using.

You could use this system to highlight Art figures ( highlighted in 1 colour) different from Notable People (edged in another colour), History (edged in another colour),  from Inventions (a 3rd colour) or Wars (a 4th colour).

At the end of our year we play games and use our timeline figures for  review:

  • group the figures according to categories (discoverers, artists, Bible characters)
  • quiz – give 2 facts for each figure
  • arrange 3/5 figures in time order

Here is our Book of Centuries Timeline ~


Book Of Centuries Time time

We used this timeline method while we were travelling and I could not display our timeline chart in our school room.

Each child pastes in their pictures or information and uses the blank page to write more information.

It is a very personal timeline.  Each child adds to their Book of Centuries and it becomes a rich historical resource.

An adolescent needs to start a new Book of Centuries as they sometimes become critical of earlier entries.  They need a blank book to map and record their more mature insights and intellectual understanding.

There are some excellent Book of Centuries with sections devoted to different themes on each page.

This is more appropriate for older students.  Young children sometimes cannot “see” the full picture and how their details fit into the larger scheme of time.

In the same way as explained above, add the names, biographies, thumbnails, pictures and information of the artists or art movements on the relevant pages.  This method offers much more space and so your children can fill more information on the page than on the wall chart.

And lastly, you could make a continuous Timeline Strip ~

I don’t have my first strip timeline photographed, but I used a looooooong strip of sturdy paper, divided into all the centuries and pasted this all around the room at the top of our school room wall.

This was a fantastic method!  The children could see exactly where and when historical events occurred.

It was easy to refer to Biblical eras and see how long ago these events took place.  Also,there were several eras when lots of new events, inventions and changes took place in very short space of time.  This was easy to see during the Renaissance or in the late 18th Century. This cluster could be expanded by making the timeline strip wider to accommodate all the figures and information.

One disadvantage is that the children can’t write or paste items on the wall strip because it is a struggle to climb up to reach the timeline.

You can read more here about our history timeline.

Simply Charlotte Mason have a Book of Centuries pictured and described here and a free pdf download here.

Heart of the Matter offers simple directions on how to make a time line here.

Heather made a free Book of Centuries template download.  (You need to write your own years in on the top of the pages.)

And, of course, please visit my Free Pages to make sure you have downloaded all the free stuff! 🙂

Art Era Timeline #3 ~ Early 20th Century to Modernism

I hope you downloaded the previous Art Era Timelines ~

#1 Pre-Renaissance to  18th Century and #2 19th Century Art

Click here for your 11 page download of #3 20th Century to the start of Modern Art ~ Art Era Timeline Early20thC-Modern

I have provided a basic definition of each art movement and included the dates and  names of  the founders and the most eminent artists of that movement. Each artist has a thumbnail of their work. I have placed each art movement on a new page for clarity and to help the study of different eras.

Here is a slide-show sampler:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These are the Art Movements covered in this time:

Grant Wood, American Gothic (1930), Art Instit...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Late 19th/Early 20th Century Design
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Art Nouveau
  • Les Nabis
  • The Golden Age of Illustration
  • Art Deco
  • 20th Century
  • Realism Reinvented
  • Ashcan School
  • Camden Town Group
  • American Scene
  • American Regionalism
  • Social Realism
  • The Canadian Group Of Seven
  • Magic Realism
  • Contemporary Realism

Some ideas on how to use this timeline:

  • Print it and create an Art Book of Centuries, or
  • Add these pages to a student’s own Book of Centuries or
  • Cut and paste the pages end-to-end as a continual vertical art timeline (it will be huge!)
  • Cut out and add the artists and their art work thumbnails to a dedicated art timeline or an existing timeline
  • Laminate and cut the artists as cards and let children match the artists to the eras
  • Use the information and write your own artists on the timeline as you study them

I downloaded all the information for these timelines from

Have you downloaded all the other Free Artists and Impressionist Artists Pages?

Art Era Timeline #2 ~ 19th Century Art

Last week I posted my first in a series of 4 Art Movement Timelines.

I have divided them into sections due to the size of the downloads.

Click here for your 14 page download Art Timeline on 19th Century Art ~ Art Era Timeline 19thC-Late 19thC

I have provided a basic definition of each art movement and included the dates and  names of  the founders and the most eminent artists of that movement. Each artist has a thumbnail of their work. I have placed each art movement on a new page for clarity and to assist the study of different eras.

19th Century Art Movement Timeline focuses on the following movements:

Painting of Monet in the MET, NY

Image via Wikipedia

  • Romanticism
  • The Hudson River School
  • The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
  • Victorian Classicism
  • The Arts and Crafts Movement
  • Symbolism
  • Realism
    The Barbizon School
  • Impressionism
    Les Nabis
  • Fauvism

Here’s a peek at the timeline:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some ideas on how to use this timeline:

  • Print it and create an Art Book of Centuries, or
  • Add these pages to a student’s own Book of Centuries or
  • Cut and paste the pages end-to-end as a continual vertical art timeline (it will be huge!)
  • Cut out and add the artists and their art work thumbnails to a dedicated art timeline or an existing timeline
  • Laminate and cut the artists as cards and let children match the artists to the eras
  • Use the information and write your own artists on the timeline as you study them

I downloaded all the information for these timelines from

Have you downloaded all the other Free Artists and Impressionist Artists Pages?