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Why Your Kids Need Their Own Timeline

Why we started using a timeline

I’ll tell you why your kids need their own timeline, but first, lest I start sounding like a know-it-all big sister. I’ll tell you how we got started. It’s much less glamorous than you might think, and I hope it will help show you it’s not overwhelming.

I started using a Timeline Journal for our kids because I heard according to Charlotte Mason they would need to keep a Book of Centuries once they got to fifth grade. I grew up being homeschooled but didn’t grow up using a Book of Centuries, so I wanted to get a feel for it before it was needed in fifth grade. I’m so glad I did, because the experience has been a true delight in our homeschool experience.

How we did it

Three years ago I bought a timeline book and after anything we learned, we added a small drawing to it. My kids who were in kindergarten and second grade when we first began, started making connections without me pointing it out! It was so cute to watch them put in their own little drawings. By the end of our first year I couldn’t wait to keep going.

This is why your kids need their own timeline! Without being told, my kid’s excitement grew as they realized everything they were learning was connected. We were using The Peaceful Press curriculum, so there were lots of opportunities to add new things to our timeline. I looked up supplemental books from Stories of Color, because I wanted our kids to learn indigenous stories alongside, Lief Erikson, the Revolutionary War, and the various explorers.

The tragedy

The third year keeping their notebooks we started studying ancient history. They had added adorable drawings of medieval times and American history. We headed into ancient history only to discover that 1000 years was missing from the timeline journals I had picked. I was devastated!

I looked for a new Timeline Journal or Book of Centuries on Amazon, but after reading reviews I realized that most of them had errors that caused them to be missing an important section of history. So I ended up making my own for our kids to use. I’m so grateful for the editor that volunteered to help me edit them, and make sure I didn’t miss anything.

How using a timeline works

I ended up creating two different kinds of printable timelines. These can be 3 hole-punched and put into a binder or spiral-bound with a laminated cover. You should use the same book from Kindergarten through 4th grade and then a reset is encouraged to go from 5th grade through high school.

The “Timeline Book” leaves space to draw a small picture and add notes. It starts in an every 500 years format and gets up to an every 10-year format. This is what I used with mine for younger grades. It’s lower commitment and less detailed with only 19 pages.

The second is a “Book of Centuries” format. It’s spaced 1000 years per page for BC then jumps to every 100 years for AD. These are an heirloom practice. If you want to up the heirloom quality you can purchase a hardcover copy of Book of Centuries from Riverbend Press.

How we find new books to explore

Finding history that explored various thinkers and world actors became very important to me. I wanted my kids to see history from a variety of lenses, not just from that of the “winner.” My dad, who was a history major, often quoted to us “History is Written by Victors.” (commonly attributed to Winston Churchill, but origins are unknown.) Seeing from carried experience is important to me because empathy is the ability to look at circumstances from the view of others. The more practice we get for this through reading, the better we are at it in life.

So I ended up writing a curriculum that did just that. We will be exploring the ancient world through a variety of perspectives this year.

I think this using a timeline during these studies will be particularly insightful and exciting because we are traveling to many different continents. Being able to see what was happening in Africa alongside what was happening in China will be so much fun.

Click for resources to study the ancient world as a family

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