(If you want to learn more about our exclusive timeline figures or how to create a Timeline of Life from the Big Bang through human history, read more here.)
I am passionate about history. It’s my favorite subject to teach and even in my free time I’m often reading historical fiction and history books or watching historical documentaries. But it took me several years to figure out how to set up a timeline. I couldn’t figure out a way to make one work with our living space. I have limited wall space and a husband who likes his house to look more like a home and less like a school. One day, as my children were working on projects for a fair at our homeschool group, I looked at the display boards they were working on and something clicked in my brain. I could make a timeline on a display board! Then I could fold it up when we were finished and put it away behind the bookshelf where it would be out of sight. It has all the benefits of a wall timeline, but without taking up a whole wall.
For the younger crowd, I think a wall timeline or something like it is the absolute best. It helps them to be able to really visualize the big picture. My twins love to see how things that seemed completely separate were actually happening at the same time.
So, on my display board (which you can find at any office supply store) I drew lines across starting at the top about 5 inches apart. Then I color coded the lines, so we have 2 purple lines for ancients, two green lines for late ancients and middle ages, one red line for renaissance and 2 blue lines for early modern and modern. I then very unscientifically labeled the dates. I used this resource to figure out how to put on the dates.
Here’s a close up:
As you can see, we either draw our pictures or print them off the computer using google images. I aim to add something to our timeline once a week, but sometimes it’s more like twice a month and occasionally it’s a few times a week. It really depends on our reading for the week.
Of course, this same idea can easily be done on an actual wall. It can become almost a work of art, displaying the sprawl of history.
When children get to be about middle school age, you can begin using a Book of Centuries. For this project, I use a 3 inch binder, with a window on the front so we could personalize it.
Inside we have about 40ish divider tabs labeled by century. Sometimes it’s more 500 years or 1000 years for the ancients. As you study history, you add a variety of work behind the tabs.
Map of the Fertile Crescent
Notebook page about Ancient Crete
Narration and timeline figure about Narmer uniting Upper and Lower Egypt
Above you can see how you can still use a timeline figure in a Book of Centuries – we pasted it at the top of the page and then write a narration beneath.
Notebook page about the Greek dark ages
The Book of Centuries can then be used all the way through high school. It will become a treasured resource over the years, becoming their own personalized history book.