Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Make a Timeline Binder

My children have timeline binders which they add to year after year as they go through history.  Although we use Ambleside Online, a timeline binder could be used with any curriculum.  It would be especially nice to tie together unit studies.  Because the child adds things throughout his schooling years, it becomes a sort of treasured keepsake, and a story of what he has learned and how he has developed.

Here are some pictures of Hailey's timeline binder.  She has been adding to hers for about a year.  It is already special to her!

Here is what you will need for your timeline.  

Notebooking pages
Timeline pages

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I used Notebooking Pages for every part of my binders.  But you could use something else.  The important part is that you have timeline pages, notebooking pages on your topics, and some dividers.  Here is how I put my timeline together.  The first one was a bit tougher, because I had to figure out all of the time periods, how many pages I needed, how much to cover on each page, and all that.  Caiden's was much easier.  I just copied everything from Hailey's.

Timeline and book lists from

First, I used cardstock to divide the timeline into four periods.  This works well for us, because although Ambleside uses a 6 year rotation, the time periods are pretty general to most historical eras.  These are also the divisions that most Classical programs use, and the divisions used by Notebooking Pages.  The first divider is for ancient times.  Then comes Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and the final division is for the Modern age. Because these time periods are subjective, I used Ambleside Online's dates as a rough guide.  Here are my dates:

Ancient times: ..... to 800 AD
Middle Ages~ 800 to 1400 
Renaissance and Reformation~ 1400 to 1700
Modern Times~ 1700 to 2100

My dividers are labeled with the time period and the dates.  I print them on cardstock for durability.  Behind the dividers, I printed book lists.  We will add the books we read each year.  This will make an interesting record later.  

Now for the actual timeline.  I printed pages from Notebooking Pages.  I picked the format I liked the best, but feel free to do your own.  You should also be able to find other options online.  I printed one two-page spread for each century.  Here are the pages needed for each section:

Ancient Times: 
  10 pages, 1000 years
Middle Ages: 
  12 pages, 600 years
Renaissance and Reformation: 
  6 pages, 300 years
Modern Times: 
  16 pages, 400 years.
(Here I switched to 50 years per each 2-page spread for the years between 1700 and 1900.  I planned 25 pages for each spread for the last century. )

A note about ancient times: Because opinions differ and facts are hard to come by, I wasn't quite sure how to do this section. I just made 1000 years worth for now.  On the one hand, I love the idea of having all of the history laid out in the same format, one century per spread, so the vastness of history is obvious.  On the other hand, that would mean 40 pages, many of which would be blank.  And that is just to go back to a young-earth creation.  I will probably end up making a spread for every 200 or even 500 years, but this is something that I will worry about later.  
The best part about the timeline binder is the part that makes them truly theirs.  The part that makes them special.  At the beginning of the school year, or before each term, I pull up Notebooking Pages and refill my ink cartridge.  (Remember, many of these notebook pages could be found online in other places. Although I think that Notebooking Pages are the best and the easiest.  ;) )  I grab the kid's history spines (their main history books) and start printing.  

For first grade, I looked for the most important people and events.  I went through the books, and printed a notebook page for each event or person that seemed most prominent and influential.  I also printed coloring pages (which Notebooking Pages has for each time period) as well as some pages without a topic.  

For second grade, I tried to come up with at least one page for each week. Some pages have more, some have less, but that was my goal.  I stuck to pages that have a picture of the person or event, along with a place to draw a picture of their own.  I kept the writing lines to a minimum for both grades, as they are already doing other copywork.  For first grade, I often had her narrate to me while I wrote the words.  

These notebook pages go into the binder, right behind the century-spread they happened in.  We also mark the person or event in the timeline itself.  Every year, as we learn more, we add to the same binder.  So by the end of highschool, we may a little crayon drawing about the children's crusade on one page, while the next contains a detailed written narration about the captivity of Richard the Lionhearted.  What a treasure and wealth of information these books will become, if worked on diligently! 

However, we must be careful with the notebooking. The idea is not to have them doing extra work, the idea is to give them another way in which to connect with the stories and people.  It also gives them a framework of events and people which they can build on later.  Charlotte Mason was very clear about her opinion of busy work; that is, school work that is designed just to keep the child busy and does not give them living ideas.  We must be careful that our timelines don't turn into busywork.  It is not a chore for the child to do, it is not a test, it is not to see how much they know.  It is THEIR book.  They are designing it, they add what they like, what inspires them, what they want to remember.  It is theirs.  

Sometimes I will say, "Here's a page about so and so.  What would you like to do on it?"  This is because when presented with an enormous supply of blank pages and an enormous supply of living ideas, a young child may be overwhelmed and not want to add any of them.  I prefer to give them a starting place, and let them go from there.  But I never force them to write more on their pages then they want.  And if they get that look of "oh, no.  I am too tired to write more!" I offer to write it for them. This is not copywork (although if you pick historical selections, their copywork could go into their timeline).  This is a place for the child to make connections and memories.  

I don't know how "Charlotte Mason" the idea of notebook pages is.  I do know that young children didn't do written narrations in Charlotte's schools, which is why I am perfectly willing to do the writing for them. I also know that Charlotte's children had timelines, which they added events and people to, even in younger grades.  Hailey really enjoys looking back through her binder, and remembers well every story that she included.  It has really helped her retention.  

Do you think notebook pages go against Charlotte's philosophies? 

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