Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Timeline that Works for Us

This is not a beautiful timeline, I admit. It has no timeline figures. It is small, the width of a wall map, with an inch for each century. Its people and dates are jotted down when we please with the pen that is at hand. It works for us, though, and I plan to make one for each of my children when they begin Year 1. This was my first try, for my first student...I'm sure future timelines will become successively more orderly and beautiful.

This particular timeline is also known as a stream of history chart. I began this one a year and a half ago when Jen Snow shared the idea on her blog. She had worked out the idea from Laurie Bestvater's The Living Page, which referenced a Parent's Review article describing such a chart. The chart referenced there was intended for older children, and was to give an overview of major events in all of history.

My chart has been adapted for our own use with younger children. It does not differentiate between major and minor historical characters or events. That will come later, as what matters now is their vivid impressions of the people of history. Whenever we have come to know someone well in our lessons (whether through history, or picture study, or music appreciation, or even free reading), we add that person to our timeline.

I began by entering my dates and my husband's dates on the chart. Next, I added the children's grandparents. I also put Jesus' dates on the chart. Then I left it open, and added whoever captured our interest. Laura Ingalls Wilder was an early addition.

The greatest benefit having such a timeline has been seeing the children's enjoyment of the connections it makes between the people they have learned about. They like seeing that Mozart lived during George Washington's lifetime. They know that William Longsword, Duke of Normandy ("Little Duke" Richard's father) and William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, are not the same person, because they occupy different places on the chart. Today we added Canadian artist Tom Thomson to our chart. We noticed that we now have three people on our chart who died in 1917: Tom Thomson in Canada, Edgar Degas in France, and Buffalo Bill in the USA.

Next year I will take this chart down and put a new, clean one up for JJ, who will be in Year 1. I am thinking of making SA a timeline in a notebook at that point (He will be in year 3.).

I know you're looking at this and thinking how crowded and messy it is! When I do it again, I am considering being content with a smaller range of years. At this young age, I don't think the children appreciate that aspect of it, anyway. A smaller range of dates will allow me to make the spaces between centuries a little wider so I can fit the people in more neatly and we can see the relationships more clearly.

If you want to make a chart like this, it is easily done with a piece of Bristol board from the dollar store. Cut a wide strip, make a line down the middle, and mark each inch and label it. It's that simple.