We started the year with every intention of creating one of those huge history timelines for our homeschool. Confession: we never made one. I bought a big project board, painstakingly lined it with contact paper, and then put it aside because I couldn’t decide how to make it work for us. Nine months later, that board still sits tucked behind a bookshelf in our schoolroom because the whole timeline project had become a huge hassle.
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There are a few reasons this timeline didn’t work for us. All of those reasons involve hassle. We started the year creating index cards with great information for the timeline, but quickly got overwhelmed with the weekly upkeep involved. We like to be done by noon each day and all that laminating of historical figures, recording on the index card, rewriting for display, and attaching to the board was too much for us.
Some kids may thrive on that kind of hands-on history, but my son felt like it was busy-work. The only part he enjoyed was drawing elements from our lessons onto the index cards — and he started sketching on the cards without being asked! He liked drawing, but felt like the rest of it was a hassle.
The display board history timeline never happened because it was too much hassle, so you can probably deduce that wall border style was never even an option. We don’t have enough wall space in our school room for that type of timeline. Besides, if a display board timeline was a hassle for us, a timeline requiring a stepladder for weekly upkeep would take hassle to another level.
What’s left for history timelines after you decide you decide you can’t deal with the hassle? Does that mean you don’t get to include this tool for connecting history in your homeschool? Definitely not. There are some great hassle-free history timeline options!
3 Hassle-free History Timelines for Homeschool
1. History Sketch Journal
This is where we started with our timeline journey and it’s probably the most hassle-free timeline of all. It’s also inexpensive and only requires a few supplies: pencils, colored pencils or crayons, and a journal or notebook. It’s a lovely hassle-free option because there’s no upkeep needed. Your child just opens the journal and adds to it as needed.
This grab-and-go timeline option works best when started at the beginning of a historical period and for being used to record elements from history lessons. My son writes the title of our lesson and the corresponding year at the top of each page. Then he sketches a scene or primary figure as I read the lesson. Sometimes he colors his drawings and sometimes he chooses not to leave them as is. After that, the journal goes on the shelf until the next lesson. No hassle at all!
2. A Book of Centuries
In essence, a Book of Centuries is the book version of a timeline. The concept behind it is similar to a history sketch journal, but more complex. There’s room for sketching in most varieties, but there’s also plenty of room for notes. It’s a great history timeline option because it’s one book that can be completed over time and can be customized to fit many homeschooling needs.
There are free options out there, including this Basic Book of Centuries from Simply Charlotte Mason, but if you want to skip the printing, this Book of Centuries from Katherine Weitz may be more hassle-free.
Not sure your kids are ready to tackle a Book of Centuries like the ones mentioned above? Lara Molettierre offers a great printable Book of Centuries for younger children. You can get it by subscribing to her newsletter.
My friends at Knowledge Box Central graciously provided us with a copy of their Stages of the Ages Timeline and we’ve been using it with Mystery of History Volume II. It has been the perfect, hassle-free match for us!
I’ll admit this timeline is a massive file and it pretty much requires a full ream of paper, but that’s a great indicator of just how thorough this product is! The instructions for printing and assembling are incredibly detailed and — full disclosure here —might seem like a hassle, but they actually aren’t. Preparing our Stages of the Ages History Timeline was a surprisingly smooth process for such a large project.
What we love about this no-hassle history timeline:
- There’s tons of room for recording. Each century has individual pages for six different topics. You don’t have to cram everything about a specific century on a page or two!
- The tabbed layout makes it super-easy to find the topic you’re looking for within each century.
- The map for each century helps tie together all of the recorded information and connect events and figures to the big picture for that century.
- It lives in a binder! That’s hassle-free, for sure!
- It can be added to as often or as little as desired and can be used for years.
- There’s no daunting upkeep.
Tips for using Stages of the Ages Timeline Notebook:
- If you don’t follow the printing instructions perfectly, don’t stress. That map page for each century can slide in as the last page in that section. I know from experience that it will work just as well as the suggested printing method!
- Print what you need. If you’re covering ancient history, print Time Period 1 for now. You can always print the others as needed and save yourself the hassle of storing the other periods until you actually need them.
- For Mystery of History users like us, use it with your weekly review. We typically have history lessons three days a week. Using Stages of the Ages to record elements from the week’s lessons is a great review activity for non-lesson days.
Regardless of the type of timeline you choose for your homeschool, The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide is a great resource to have on hand. This book does a great job in explaining timelines and giving tips for creating several types of timelines. It even includes reproducible timeline figures and a chronological list of those figures. That’s perfect if you don’t require a hassle-free timeline like I do!
This guide provides help with hassle-free timeline options too! It includes instructions for creating a timeline notebook, blank reproducible timeline notebook pages, and suggestions for organizing and recording information on the pages. It’s similar in concept to the Stages of the Ages Timeline Notebook mentioned above, but is different in the sense that users choose how many years are covered on a page. A single page could represent 50 years, 100 years, 250 years, and so on. It’s also different because pages can be added as needed for covering a specific time period. That’s a nice feature since many eras in history are action-packed while others are empty in comparison.
Whether you require a hassle-free timeline option or not, The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide is a resource you’ll go back to time and time again. I know I do!
It’s your turn now… How do you tackle history timelines in your homeschool? Do you have tips for keeping timeline hassle to a minimum?