About Build Your Library Curriculum

Build Your Library – secular homeschool curriculum, literature based – building young minds, one book at a time!

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history? What about a secular science that is mostly literature based in the elementary years? Well, you have come to the right place! Welcome to Build Your Library Curriculum!

I am a homeschool mother, not unlike you. I spent years searching for a curriculum that fit my needs, and having to tweak each program to death to make it work for my family. Then one day, I realized it would be simpler to just write my own program. That is when Build Your Library was born. I thought I must not be the only one looking for a literature based program that was also secular. So I set to work to create a homeschool curriculum that would fit many needs.

I wanted a curriculum that was rich in great literature, not just old fashioned tomes, but modern children’s literature as well.  I wanted a curriculum that was history based but didn’t drown you in historical fiction. I wanted to make narration a priority, but in a way that was fun and easy. A curriculum that took passages from the books you and your child are reading and turned them into copywork in the elementary years and dictation at the middle school level.  I wanted to incorporate art study that was connected to history and included fun art projects, and secular literature based science lessons.  It was a tall order – but our children are worth it.

I hope you will try out a program and join the Build Your Library family, – building young minds, one book at a time!

Current Full Grade Level Products Available for Purchase:
Level 0 – Level 1 – Level 2 – Level 3 – Level 4 – Level 5 – Level 6 – Level 7 – Level 8 – Level 9 – Level 10 – (See Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages)

Current Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study
History of Thanksgiving Unit Study
A Jan Brett Christmas Unit Study
Winter Holidays Around the World Unit Study
The Hobbit Unit Study
Darwin and Evolution Unit Study
Sharks! Unit Study
World War II Unit Study
Prehistory Unit Study

Other Educational Products:
Narration Cards
Book of Centuries and Timeline Figures

NEW:
A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling (Paperback)

A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling (Kindle Edition)

 

Posted in Information | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Practical Homeschooling Magazine Reader’s Choice award

For the fourth year in a row, Build Your Library has been nominated for the Practical Homeschooling Magazine Reader’s Choice awards!

While I am not particularly one for receiving accolades, I really do appreciate being able to describe Build Your Library as an Award Winning Homeschool Curriculum! Three years ago, our first year nominated, we received an Honorable Mention green badge in 2015. The following two years in 2016 and 2017, we received Third Place yellow badges.

If you are so inclined and you enjoy Build Your Library, we would love your vote this year!

Also be sure to vote for the other fantastic secular homeschool curriculum that has been nominated! Real Science Odyssey, All About Reading, Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts – this is a great way to support your favorite homeschool companies!

Vote in the Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards Here

Voting is open until December 25. Thank you so much for your support.

Posted in Information | Leave a comment

Purchase: Crate

Welcome to the first installment of Build Your Library’s Family Reading Crates! The January 2018 theme is Alaska: The Last Frontier! I’m including three books in this box – a family read aloud, a book for older readers, and a book for you, the parent! These books are handpicked by me so that you are all reading quality literature.

Every box will include a booklet with discussion questions and rabbit trail ideas, as well as a link to a page on our site with additional links, booklists, movies and documentaries, and printable activities to go along with the books.

You’ll also always receive a few exclusive crate bookmarks, and at least one or two additional items that go along with the monthly theme.

It’s like getting an all-inclusive family-wide unit study in a box each month!

Pre-Order Purchase January 2018 Crate – Alaska: The Last Frontier $34.99
($26.99+$8.00 S&H in US, Add $2.50 shipping to Canada, $12 to other Int’l)

Add to CartView Cart

These crates are expected to ship by the the last week of December.

Posted in Books | 1 Comment

Unit Study: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I am very excited to announce the next installment in our Harry Potter unit study series! It’s time to head back to Hogwarts for Harry’s fifth year in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

This year Harry has a lot on his plate. The Ministry of Magic is actively working against him, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is taking over the school, and school work as doubled as the fifth years prepare for their O.W.L. exams.

In this unit, like the units preceding it, you’ll continue your Magical Terms and Spells Glossary, Magical Devices Guide, Magical Creatures Field Guide, Travel Guide to the Wizarding World (Magical Places), and the Weekly Prophet. As always, there are copywork/dictation passages taken from the novel, as well as vocabulary and discussion questions to help you get the most out of the story.

This unit also includes a Defense Against the Dark Arts Hogwarts course – just like Harry and his friends had to work together to fight against the rising evil in the Wizarding World, you and your child will be learning about Activism and how they can fight against the evils in our own world. You’ll be reading about children who saw a problem and stood up to do something about it in It’s Our World, Too: Young People Who Are Making a Difference. The major project in this course will be working on a service project, using the book The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects for inspiration and guidance.

The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix unit study will take approximately 4 weeks to complete and is appropriate for upper-elementary and up. The PDF file is 53 pages and includes a full schedule, project ideas and 9 activity pages.

Purchase the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study – $5.99

Add to CartView Cart


** Our PayPal e-Junkie powered shopping cart will process your order. All our digital programs are in PDF form. They cannot be returned or refunded. Once you place your order, you will receive a download link to your items.

As a reminder, if you are going to purchase books we would greatly appreciate the use of our provided Amazon Links or our Amazon Store! Thanks!


Harry Potter Unit Study Frequently Asked Questions:
Do we have to start with the Sorcerer’s Stone unit study, or can we jump in at any of the books?

Yes and no. While these unit studies are semi-standalone if they had to be, they are designed to be completed in the order that the book series ran. Like the storyline in the books, the unit studies continue to build off of each other as they progress. You will start several activities such as keeping a glossary of magical terms and spells or creating a field guide of magical devices, to name a few. These will be used through the unit study series and new activities and additional entries will be completed in subsequent lesson plan.

If we already read the book, do we have to read it again to complete the unit study?

The unit study is designed to enhance the reading (or re-reading) of the book. While you are going through the chapters, vocabulary words are pulled out and activities are performed that correlate with what you are reading. This is the perfect unit to complete on your first reading of the book, as well as a perfect companion for reading the book again and diving deeper into the lore and story.

Are you planning on writing unit studies for all of the Harry Potter books?

Yes, absolutely! But currently, we have the following Harry Potter unit studies completed:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study

Posted in Uncategorized, Unit Studies | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages

When we started Build Your Library, we adopted the “standard” public school style naming conventions, such as Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, etc. Of course, there is no “standard” in homeschooling, but those grade levels seemed appropriate at the time. Appropriate and familiar. When I went to public school, I didn’t go to the Level 12 classroom… But then we started to get some pretty relevent questions about the set up of our curriculum:

“Which grade level should I begin at with my 8 year old?”

“My sixth grader hasn’t studied any American history, can we start with Grade 5 or will it be too easy?”

“Will Grade 1 be too hard for my advanced 5 year old?”

I get these and similar questions about the “grade levels” all the time. It’s probably my most frequently asked question. My usual response is that the grade levels are subjective. The material that Build Your Library covers is content based – history, art, literature, science – these courses aren’t typically measured so much by grade as by interest. No one would pick up a copy of A Wrinkle in Time and ask themselves “What grade level is this book?” Yet when it comes to history, science, or any of those other content subjects, we tend to think in terms of grade level. Why is that?

I think we have been ingrained by society to think of education as boxes to tick off – a 6 year old  is a 1st grader who must know these specific things. That is a public school model for learning. As homeschoolers, we are freed from those chains, yet we have held on to them. They are comforting. They tell us that we are on target… that our children are learning what they ought to learn.

Over the years, customers have asked me if we could change the Grades to Levels. I have been brainstorming about that for a while and I think it is finally time that Build Your Library evolves and adopts this change.

As of now, all of our full year programs will now be designated “levels” rather than grades. This currently doesn’t change any of the content. But it might make it easier to choose a level to begin at when you are first starting out, or make it easier to use one level with multiple children without the oldest thinking they are doing “baby” school work.

The levels will work like this:
(BYL Level – Approximate School Grade – Recommended Age Range)

  • Level 0 – Kindergarten – ages 4 – 6
  • Level 1 – Grade 1 – ages 6 – 8
  • Level 2 – Grade 2 – ages 7 – 9
  • Level 3 – Grade 3 – ages 8 – 10
  • Level 4 – Grade 4 – ages 9 – 11
  • Level 5 – Grade 5 – ages 10 – 12
  • Level 6 – Grade 6 – ages 11 – 13
  • Level 7 – Grade 7 – ages 12 – 14
  • Level 8 – Grade 8 – ages 12 – 15
  • Level 9 – Grade 9 – ages 14 – 16
  • Level 10 – Grade 10 – ages 15 – 17 

For those accustomed to the previous “Grade Level” format of Build Your Library, Level effectively equals Grade. If you have previously purchased a BYL Grade Level curriculum, this update is very minor and only difference is the reference to Level vs. Grade vs. Age. You would not need an updated copy of the instructor’s guide like if we actually made a change to the booklist, schedule or other functionality… that is unless you specifically want the copy that references a numeric level. We’d be happy to send you a new copy.

Please bear with us as we update the references throughout the webpage. There may still be instances where levels, grades or age ranges may still be used interchangeably.

Posted in General Homeschooling | Leave a comment

Shop Our Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

It’s my favorite time of year! The air is crisp, we’re bundled up in fuzzy socks and cozy sweaters, and my children and I are baking up a storm! There’s just something so homey and warm about a Christmas tree and holiday lights. It makes me want to snuggle on the couch with a good book and some hot chocolate.

To kick off the holiday season, we’re having a sale you won’t want to miss!

From November 24 – December 8 you can take 25% off your entire purchase of our digital products when you use the code “cranberry” at checkout.

If you’ve been wondering if Build Your Library is the right program for you, this is a great time to try it out and see for yourself.

I hope you will try out a program and join the Build Your Library family, – building young minds, one book at a time!

Current Full Grade Level Products Available for Purchase:
Level 0 – Level 1 – Level 2 – Level 3 – Level 4 – Level 5 – Level 6 – Level 7 – Level 8 – Level 9 – Level 10 – (See Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages)

Current Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study
History of Thanksgiving Unit Study
A Jan Brett Christmas Unit Study
Winter Holidays Around the World Unit Study
The Hobbit Unit Study
Darwin and Evolution Unit Study
Sharks! Unit Study
World War II Unit Study
Prehistory Unit Study

Other Educational Products:
Narration Cards
Book of Centuries and Timeline Figures

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Sales | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What’s in our Morning Basket?

When my teens were very small, every morning we had Circle Time. It was our favorite part of the homeschool day. We would literally sit in a circle on the floor and I’d read them picture books, we’d sing songs, work on our letter of the day activities, practice memory work, and play games to practice math.

This time spent together was a way to begin our day joyfully. Circle time was sacred. When we began our school days with 30-40 minutes of stories, songs, and games, we were able to tackle the less appealing subjects (usually math for my crew) more easily, because everyone was in a good mood. The children were happy because  Mama had read them a favorite or new favorite story and taught them a new song. Mom was happy, because I had started our day with the things that were most important to me.

As they grew older, our Circle Time tradition evolved into Morning Time. I still read them stories, but the singing and games fell away as we added in other odd-ball topics or subjects that didn’t fit anywhere else in our day – art study, music appreciation, poetry, all of those things that tended to fall by the wayside when we got too busy. Now that they are all teenagers, they don’t really have “Morning Time” anymore. Although I will still read aloud to them and go over what work I expect them to accomplish each day.

But as my youngest came to be school aged, I found myself missing that morning time. So last year I reinstated Morning Time by setting up a Morning Basket just for her. Our morning basket is where I put all the things that I consider to be important – too important to let slip by the wayside when our day got busy.

Morning baskets are a great way to ensure that you get to those important things first. Do you find that poetry memorization often gets skipped, even though you really want to make it happen? Add it to the Morning Basket! Have you been wanting to incorporate a new resource but can’t figure out when it fits into your day? Add it to the Morning Basket!

Note: The following video is from last November, but you can check out more videos about our Morning Baskets at my channel: What’s in our Morning Basket playlist

The beauty of Morning Basket time is simplicity. We never spend more than 30 – 45 minutes on our Morning Basket, so I make sure to choose the best-of-the-best materials to get the absolute most out of our morning. If the rest of our day goes haywire, I can rest in the assurance that we got to the most important things first.

You can include many things in your Morning Time basket – from your daily read aloud, to poetry, to those fun activities and games you bought on impulse but have no idea how to fit into your homeschool. From foreign language to science, you can make Morning Time the best part of your day.

Here’s what I currently have in my 8-year-old’s Morning Basket:

Living history and science books are always a part of our morning time. These are books we read multiple times a week – often daily. Currently we are studying Grade 2: The Medieval World, and we’ve been studying human anatomy at my daughter’s request.

This is also where I incorporate art history. Because my youngest loves to draw and is currently obsessed with making her own comics, I’ve added this fun Usborne book for her as well. We generally only read from one of these books once a week.

Mad Libs is my favorite way to sneak in grammar instruction in the early years. What child doesn’t love making up a funny story?!  They can learn the parts of speech without even realizing they are learning. We do a Mad Lib story or two twice a week.

These books are a feast for the eyes. I am always looking for interesting ways to teach geography and history and I have been very pleased with this series. Once a week we use Maps and once every other week or so we’ll read from Timeline. Usually we’ll pick it up as it pertains to what we are studying in history.

I especially like that they come with these activity books – my worksheet loving 8 year old can have her worksheet and I appreciate that these don’t feel like pointless busy work. They give you some very creative ways to get the most out of the text. We’ll use these whenever they correspond to the days reading.

Morning Time gives us the freedom to enjoy the rest of our day without feeling like we are always missing those important subjects. After spending our 30 – 45 minutes snuggled up on the couch reading, we can more easily tackle the rest of our day.

Do you use morning baskets in your daily routine? What’s in your morning basket? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?


Posted in Advice and Tips, multi-grade teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Homeschooling: Keeping it Simple

I remember when I first started homeschooling. My oldest was four, and I excitedly poured over dozens of homeschool catalogs. There were so many options and all of them seemed necessary if I wanted to have a well rounded student. So, I bought way too many things and didn’t even use half of them. This same scenario would play out year after year until I finally had an epiphany.

I don’t need to cover everything every single year.

Let that sink in… because it took me a while to really let myself believe it. But it’s true. You don’t need to cover every single subject every year.

One of the things I adore about the Charlotte Mason style of education is that you can present your children with a wide array of beautiful ideas, with short lessons and in a way that connections are easily made. We don’t need to spend hours studying grammar and spelling and handwriting and reading comprehension and vocabulary and writing every year, because we can cover those things through reading, narration, copywork and dictation. That doesn’t mean that we never have to study grammar in depth – but you certainly don’t need to every year. We can let the literature, science, history and art blend together as one easily flows into the other. To me, this style of learning just makes sense.

20140812_111230One of the things I often hear from people, is that they aren’t sure if they are doing enough. How does one define “enough?” When I look at a typical course of study for each grade level, it can be intimidating. There is just so much there! And when it comes to science and social studies especially, the subject matter can seem choppy and scattered. How can one teach all of those subjects within a cohesive framework? This type of homeschooling leads to a long list of items that must be checked off each day. It leads to tedious busy work and overwhelmed mothers trying to make sure they cover everything.

Rather – I look at the overall goal: what do I want to cover over the course of their school years? What do I want them to care about? What books do I want them to read? What is important to my individual child? There is no one size fits all when it comes to education! When you look at their education as a whole – everything makes more sense. The pieces all fit together, like a puzzle.

So what does a simplified Charlotte Mason style eduction look like?

Literature is the foundation – reading great books can fill your child’s mind with ideas, leading down rabbit trails into other subjects. Reading a wide variety of great books will set the tone for your schooling. Your child will narrate what they read – first orally and eventually in writing, leading them to learn to craft essays and begin to analyze literature. They’ll learn vocabulary in context and use passages from literature as copywork and later dictation.

You study history chronologically so that you can begin to see the flow of centuries and how one leads to another. We aren’t memorizing dates and names, we’re watching the pageant of time unfold before us, finding out about the people that really lived and how they changed our world. You’ll learn geography as it pertains to history, watching empires rise and fall and seeing how the maps change through the course of time. You’ll get a glimpse of life in other cultures through beautiful stories and well chosen documentaries and movies.

Art and literature both tie into your history – you’ll see the art work that came out of the turbulent times in which the artists lived, and read books that will allow you to “visit” those time periods.

You’ll focus on only one or two science topics per year, really digging in and exploring with well written books, fascinating documentaries and enlightening experiments.

With this type of schooling, you’re using the best resources so that while you aren’t checking off endless boxes each day, you’re still giving your children a powerful and thorough education. Each piece of the puzzle brings it’s value and worth to the table. There is no busy work to “get through.” Your child’s time is more important than that.

DSC04267When you simplify – you give your child freedom. You can do your lessons in the morning and leave your afternoons open to explore, to play, to daydream. You’ll give your children time to try new things, time to just be. In this world of rush, rush, rush, it’s a real gift to allow our children that space to just breathe.

So yes, mothers, you are doing enough. You are giving your children a beautiful education, filled with ideas, and heroes, the poetry and lyricism of language and and exploration of the world around them. You’re giving them the freedom to imagine and explore. What could be more important than that?

See Related Articles: Can I Combine My Children in One Program?


For more simplified homeschooling – check out Build Your Library’s full year curriculum guides – Level 0 – Level 1 – Level 2Level 3Level 4 – Level 5 – Level 6Level 7Level 8Level 9Level 10 as well as our wide variety of literature based Unit Studies


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



Posted in Charlotte Mason, General Homeschooling | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Back to “Home” School Series (B2HS)

back2homeschoolThis past week I ran a series of articles helping you (and me!) get ready for the new school year. Personally, I love this time of year – like Anne Shirley, I excitedly look forward to a whole new year with no mistakes in it yet. We collect our materials, plan our schedules and get everything ready.

This school year, I’m going to have a high school senior, two 10th graders, and a very bouncy and chatty 3rd grader. That should make for an interesting year!

Here is a recap of all of the articles from the Back to “Home” School series, collected here for easy access.

I hope you all have a wonderful school year and a great first day back!

Back to “Home” School Series (B2HS)


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



Posted in Back to Home School | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

B2HS: Tips for a Great First Day

This is the 5th and final post in my Back to “Home” School blog series. So far this week, I’ve given advice to the new homeschooling mother, helped you to get your school materials organized, and given you tips to avoid burnout, and shown you a variety of ways to make your own timeline. Today I’m going to give you some tips to have a great first day of school!

back2homeschool

Is there anything more exciting than the first day of school? All those new books and shiny new school supplies…it’s pure joy. I don’t know about you, but after a long enjoyable summer, it’s still a huge relief to get back to our normal routines.

Many families have special traditions for the first day of school. My goal every year is to make this a special day, one they’ll look forward to at the end of summer. Here are a couple ways you could choose to make your homeschool opening day great:

313323_2276889077568_4088768_n1. Make a special breakfast treat. I know I can’t be the only one with kids who love junk food for breakfast. I usually try to keep meals healthy, but on the first day back to school we splurge. My children LOVE monkey bread. It’s been our go-to 1st day breakfast for the past 7 or 8 years. Maybe you could make chocolate chip pancakes or french toast with syrup and whipped cream… or even better – go out for breakfast to your favorite diner or restaurant. 

309665_2276889597581_201391_n2. Take first day of school pictures. Every year, I take a first day photo of each of my children. Since we rarely get professional portraits done, these are special treasured photographs of my children as they grow up. I love looking back at older 1st day pictures to see how they’ve matured. They each pick out a special “first day of school” outfit to wear and if the weather is nice, we go outdoors for our pictures.

58838_4426125767142_329765418_n3. Do some fun things first. Start your year off with something they are already excited about. Is your child really into art? Begin with a fun art project. Does she love science? Start with a science experiment. Begin with a new read aloud, a nature hike, an exciting field trip… whatever gets you and your children excited to jump back into learning mode. One year, we started off with a Harry Potter theme. All of the spelling words were from the books (pensieve, lumos, wizard, etc.), we made wands, read aloud one of the books, wrote copywork and dictation from the books, did some chemistry experiments (potions class!), and sorted ourselves into Hogwarts houses (thanks to Pottermore). You could do the same by starting off the year with one of our Harry Potter unit studies!

4. Complete an “All About Me” survey. This is a fun thing you can do every year just like pictures. It’s a great way to get another form of a snapshot of your child right now. It can be great fun to go back and see how they’ve changed over the years.

Download All_About_Me Survey

5. Go out to dinner. If you didn’t already do it for breakfast, consider going out to eat dinner as a special treat. It can be a great time to reflect on our first day back, discuss goals for the year, and just kick back and enjoy time out as a family when no one has to be in charge of either cooking or clean up.

6. Go on a Field Trip: What could be a better way to celebrate the start of a new year than taking a trip to the beach, a state park, or a local museum. Not only will you get to do something fun, but the crowds should be minimal, because everyone else is back in school.  Pack a lunch and make it a picnic – for some reason my kids think simple pb&j sandwiches and juice boxes taste better when eaten on a blanket at the local park. 😉

It can be easy for us moms to get wrapped up in the curriculum, the schedule, the dailiness of school. But by just working in a few simple things, we can add meaning to the day and make special memories in the process. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

I’d love to hear your first day of school traditions! What do you do to kickstart your school year?

Related Article(s): Back to “Home” School Series (B2HS)


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?

Posted in Back to Home School | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

B2HS: Build Your Own Timeline 101

 This is the 4th post in my Back to “Home” School blog series. So far this week, I’ve given advice to the new homeschooling mother, helped you to get your school materials organized, and given you tips to avoid burnout. Today we’re going to talk about timelines!

Timelines are essential when it comes to showing your children the grand scope of history. They help your children see connections, giving them a way to visualize when events overlap that they may have not realized when just reading about them separately. It is one thing to know that something happened in a particular year – memorizing dates is helpful for test taking, but if you want your children to have a deeper understanding of history, you really want to show them events on a timeline.

For instance, did you know that both Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born in 1929? We may think of them as living in distinctly different time periods, but they would have been contemporaries, had Frank lived passed childhood. Timelines can bring these kinds of connections to your children’s attention.

In this post, I will show you the basics, as well as give you some examples of different ways you can make a timeline work in your homeschool.

But how do you create a timeline?

857000_10200317515356377_1699091222_oExample 1: Timelines can come in many shapes and sizes. When we first started out, I went the easy route. I bought the largest  tri-fold display board from our local Staples for about $5, pulled out a yard stick and divided the workspace into sections, drew colored lines and labeled dates. When we got to an event, we colored in the timeline figure, cut it out and used a glue stick to attach it to the board. As far as a “functional” timeline goes, it fit the bill. It was also portable as it folded flat and could be stored out of the way when it wasn’t in use. Was it the prettiest? Nope, but it worked.


Example 2: Eventually our first couple kids outgrew the large wall-style timeline and switched over to a 3-ring binder Book of Centuries, available for purchase at BYL. This was also neat, portable and worked well.

 


Example 3: But now our youngest is coming up to the year where she will start her timeline project. I told my husband a few weeks ago that I really wanted to put together a wall timeline for her. She’s a very visual person, and I wanted something we could keep out all the time. We have a large section of blank wall space in our school room (or kitchen as it is also known). I expressed a desire to utilize that real estate in some manner, but was quickly shot down by my husband who was hesitant to let me start taping papers to the paint and use my meager art skills to come up with something. So I dropped the project into his lap since he is much more artistic and tasked him into coming up with a visually appealing timeline that he would approve of…

He said he would think about it and a week or so later we noticed two good sized bulletin boards sitting out at our local recycling center. After a minute of quick brainstorming, we both knew that this would be the basis for our wall timeline and grabbed them. Originally I was thinking we could just give the boards a coat of fresh paint and use some sort of paper boarder strips for the lines and thumbtack the figures on. But then while they were resting against the bookshelves waiting to be cleaned up, my husband got a better idea. He looked up some old style maps on Amazon and found one that was just a few inched bigger than the boards.

20150821_155947Two days later after Amazon Prime shipping and a trip to Walmart, we were ready to create the “timeline masterpiece” in my husband’s mind. We gathered our materials – 2 “free” 23″ x 35″bulletin boards (notice they are kind of beat up), two 24″x 36″ antique style map posters ($9.55 each), 1″ colored scotch tape in 4 colors ($2.25 each), a Sharpie marker, ruler and thumb tacks. Not pictured are post-it notes, a pen and our handy-dandy label maker.

20150821_171817We removed the frame from the boards so the edges were way up under the molding and cut the maps to fit. Then we tacked them on with  thumb tacks. When we replaced the frame, we made sure the posters were smooth and tight inside the frame. Now we were ready measure out the spacing to add the tape lines to mark the time periods.

When you create a timeline, you want to differentiate the major time periods. For an 20150821_175913elementary student, you can simplify it into four categories – Ancients, Middle Ages – Renaissance, Early Modern and Modern. I like to color code these categories. It really doesn’t matter what colors you use, as long as they are different. Once you have your categories, you can start to place your dates. I used colorful scotch tape for our categories. They just happened to have 5 different colors of masking tape at Walmart, so we picked 4 of them. We measured to make sure the periods would be evenly spaced – it will depend on how large of a surface you are working with. We ended up with about 4 inches between each category.

Once you have your colored categories, you can start adding your dates. This is the part that caused me most stress to lay out. When you are creating a historical timeline, it can be difficult to figure out when to begin, how much space between dates, and how many dates. I like to keep things fairly simple – I look at what the earliest event we’ll be covering in history will be, and that’s our starting place. So for our timeline we started at 5000 BCE. Then the distance between dates will change depending on how many events you expect to add. These are the dates I used on our timeline:

Ancients                  Middle Ages – Ren         Early Modern              Modern

B.C.E.                                    C.E.                                      1600                                1860
5000                                       25                                        1625                                1870
4000                                      75                                         1650                                1880
3000                                      100                                       1675                                1890
2500                                      200                                       1700                                1900
2000                                     300                                        1725                                1910
1500                                      400                                        1750                                1920
1250                                      500                                        1775                                1930
1000                                     600                                        1790                                1940
900                                       700                                        1800                                1950
800                                      800                                        1810                                1960
700                                      900                                         1820                                1970
650                                      1000                                      1830                                1980
600                                      1050                                      1840                                1990
550                                      1100                                       1850                                2000
500                                      1150                                                                                2010
450                                      1200                                                                               2020
400                                      1250
350                                      1300
300                                      1350
250                                      1400
200                                      1450
150                                      1500
50                                        1525
.                                           1550
.                                           1575

20150823_115023I started adding temporary date markers with post-it notes so that it would be easy to adjust them as needed to be sure they all fit. You could add more dates if you have a larger space to work with, but I find these dates sufficient for the elementary aged child, and they fit nicely on a tri-fold display board or my two bulletin boards. Once I arranged the spacing to my liking (about an inch or 2 depending on how many dates I was trying to fit), I created the permanent date stickers with my label maker.  You could just as easily write them on the tape with a Sharpie, but we were aiming for pretty on this project. Since this timeline is hanging prominently in our kitchen where we spend a lot of time, we wanted to make it look as nice as possible. My handwriting is not the greatest, so we broke out the label maker. 😉

This is our finished product (along with my 6 year old who will be the main student using the wall timeline this year):

20150823_144747The maps are purely decorative and will eventually get covered up by timeline event figures, but doesn’t it look nice? 🙂

Bonus Timeline Video on YouTube:

This is just one way of making use of a timeline. Not everyone has wall space for something like this, or the patience to put it together. For some more excellent ideas, I asked some Build Your Library customers to send me pictures of their working timelines so that I could share some of their creativity with everyone for some further inspiration.


Example 4: This timeline was created by Annie. She says:

AncientTimelineCollage“The cover and banner are from notebookingpages.com and the images were free printables from http://tendingourlordsgarden.blogspot.com/2012/05/story-of-world-timeline-cards.html, but I don’t have a color printer.  I just trimmed and taped together file folders, and guessed at most of it. It will be on a wall once we move, but for now it is folded on a bookshelf when not in use.”


20150824_103033Example 5: This timeline was submitted by Diana. She says:

“We used index cards paper-clipped to yarn on our dining room wall. It makes it easy to add additional cards later and gives us a room for a little review info (especially helpful for my husband and I!). It has led to lots of good dinner conversations and games. Our favorite is trying to guess which time line card someone is describing.”

 


timelineExample 6: This is how Amy set up her timeline. She says:

Here’s a photo of a timeline my daughter, Ava (age 8), and I have been working on.  As I read from Story of the World, she draws a picture.  She then narrates a short sentence or phrase to caption the picture.  We did a timeline for Book 1 about 18 months ago then put it away (attached).  This week, we took it back out to review before starting Book 2.  Although I wasn’t sure what some of the pictures were about, she was able to tell me exactly what they were and how they each tied in with the event!  This is a favorite part of our week for me.


Example 7: Finally, here’s Claire’s wall timeline. She says:We will be starting this week so there are no figures on it yet. I wanted to have the whole thing fully visible so I used an 11 foot long piece of paper and hung it in our hallway.”

TimelineCollage

Thanks Annie, Diana, Amy and Claire!

So as you can see – timelines can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. I hope that I’ve taken some of the fear and confusion out of the process.

Do you have any creative Timelines you want to share? Send us a message or leave us a comment and we can add your creation to the list above. Thanks!

Related Article(s): Back to “Home” School Series (B2HS)


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



Posted in Back to Home School | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment