Friday, 15 August 2014

Now THAT'S a big timeline!

Whether you're a follower of the Charlotte Mason method or not, I think having a working timeline for your family is a very important addition to your history studies.

Children can cope with our tendency to hop around historical studies -- even schools, notorious for having children dress up like Cleopatra one day and an Evacuee from World War II the next, are able to help their pupils form some kind of mental timeline in their heads.

Yes, the Egyptian pyramids were built before Hadrian's Wall.

But did you know the Egyptian pyramids were being built the same time that Stonehenge was being built?

In the Charlotte Mason method, the usual suggestion is to keep a Book of the Centuries. This is nothing more than a loose-leaf notebook where you insert pages in chronological order, perhaps even jotting down a list of things that happened roughly in the same era.

We have tried a "BOC" in the past, but it just wasn't visual enough for me -- just not enough

 for my liking.

Other methods have their own preferences: Konos curriculum has a wall timeline where you put cut-out figures on their century; Montessori has a little number-line kind of timeline that makes one work out that 1st century means 0-99 AD. I'm sure there are scores more.

In the end, though, we took 54 pieces of A4 card, used clear packing tape to stick them together (with a gap between the card so the tape works as a hinge), and created a 30-foot timeline. At the earlier end, each piece of card is a millennia, but as we work our way past 0 AD, it tends to be centuries.

Killer holds the 30-foot long timeline

Sometimes, we fill up a century easily, such as our study of the English Civil War last year. If that happens, we just tape another piece of card over the top, hinging at the top so it lifts up like a giant flap.

We mix photocopies and drawings,
text and print-outs
(Yes, that's Phineas and Ferb in the chariot)

We're in our fourth year of using this timeline, and it serves as an excellent tool for review as well as for putting our studies into context.

Why don't you try one? It will cost less than a fiver. whatever your currency!


  1. We've done something similar but used a roll of wallpaper lining paper.

  2. Good idea! Are you able to lay the whole thing out anywhere?

  3. Sure we can, Kim - as long as we lay it out the window!! The handy thing about A-4 hinged card is you can accordion-style a section of it to open out and work on, while the sections at either end remain folded up.


Whatcha thinkin'? Don't be shy if you've got something to say!