Our Timelines

Michael was in first grade when we put up our first timeline. This was the year we started to read books in The Childhood of Famous Americans series. (Gee, I should have been a salesman for those books!) I needed a way to help Michael remember all of the people we were reading about and where their place was in history. We were using Konos this year, so I purchased their timeline and put it up on our large kitchen wall.

Don't try to see details in this poor-quality photo, it's basically to show you the overall layout of the timeline. The left side of the photo shows the beginning of Creation by the seven circles coming from the top down on the far left side. Each circle represents a day of Creation. Below that is Adam and Eve at the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Below that are three more Biblical characters who are Noah's relatives. Noah (under a rainbow) and his three sons are at the bottom. Then there is an arrow pointing to the bottom line on the left side. This is the year 2000 BC and starts with Abraham. On the bottom line, you can also vaguely see a line of little characters coming down off the line. They are the children of Leah and Rachel! We showed the "baby war" on our line!

The years continue *UP* the line on the BC side (left side). Each color represents 100 years. At the top, when we have the year 1 AD; now we start to come *Down* the line, with each color continuing to represent 100 years. We come down to the bottom line on the right where we have our final 100 years - 1900-1999.

The final 600 years have much longer lines than at other times in history. You will see later that the lines get VERY crowded after 1400. We seemed to have read about a lot of people in this time frame. (You can see a kitchen chair at the bottom of the photo, which will give you an idea of the size of the line. I did have to stand on a ladder to reach the top items.)

This is what some of the characters on our timeline looked like:




Figures 1 and 2 are the blank templates that came with the Konos timeline. We used these to trace figures on tagboard (heavier than construction paper). Figure 3, Christopher Columbus, is also from Konos. We cut a portion of a map out of an old history text and placed it at Columbus's feet. If you could see it closely, you would see Columbus's three ships coming into the West Indies. Figure 4 is the Albert Einstein figure we made! We also made Figure 5, Babe Ruth. You can see the figures can be very simple, or more involved. Figure 6 is from Konos, Sam Adams. Figure 7 - we made Michael!

Konos has symbols on many of their figures. Biblical characters in the lineage of Christ have a cross on their bodies, kings and queens have crowns, Indians have a feather on their head, inventors have a lightbulb above their head, presidents hold the President's Seal, sculptors and builders hold a hammer, people who a heart for God have a heart on their body. (not pictured - colonists held axes, Biblical judges have justice scales above their heads ...there may be more things.) You may want to do something like this as well.



Dear husband, Rich, didn't appreciate the timeline on the wall in the kitchen <G> (after all, I had already taken the two largest rooms in the house for schoolrooms), so I did eventually take it down. I scanned all the figures onto disks with our photo scanner, with plans to simply make individual pages with information about each person and place them into a book..

I became extremely unhappy the following school year when I realized how much we missed our large timeline. Michael complained many times because he wanted to see the timeline to be able to place people in history. But I didn't have space for another large timeline. Then it dawned on me! I could make my own, smaller timeline, patterning it after my Konos timeline. After all, I had all the figures on disks -- I could print them out to any size I wanted! Or we could make our own!

This is what I did to make our own:

Step 1. I opened up my Print Artist and selected the "blank sign, 8 1/2" x 11" format. I simply placed 3/4" blue lines across the page horizontally. I used the "rectangle shape" to make the lines, and filled them in with a blue color. You can make your lines as thick or as thin as you want. You can make them any color you want. I then cut them out. (My lines are each 3/4" thick, approx. 10" long.") I used 91 of these lines for our timeline.

Step 2. Still working in my Print Artist on a blank sign, I chose a font, started to type dates, print them and then cut around them. The dates are about 1" high and 2 1/2" long. I alternated the colors of the dates for each one hundred years. For example, on the A.D. side, the dates 1500 and 1599 are blue. These two dates would be placed at the beginning and the end of the line for the 1500's. The next two dates, 1600 and 1699 are red, and are placed at the beginning and the end of the line for the 1600's. The two dates for the 1700s are blue. All lines, B.C. and A.D., should have a date at the beginning and the end of the line.

Step 3. Now that you have lines and dates, find a good spot to put them up on a wall. Remember, you can make your lines and dates any size you want! I found a spot next to our computer in the schoolroom. I put up all the lines and dates (more below) and then proceeded to add the figures of people whom we have read about. We place our figures on their birthdate. I know that on some of the Konos figures, they only show the figure's prominent dates, such as the years of a Presidency. However, we want to be consistent, so (for us) everyone goes on when they were born. When I place the figures, I estimate their spot on the line. I spot the midway point on each line as the 50-year mark, with the midway point on either side of that being each 25-year mark. We basically have one rule in our home regarding the timeline - a figure may take its place on the line ONLY if we have read a book about the person or event, or at least a substantial article (excluding Bible characters. They are placed as we read about them in the Bible.) All lines and figures are put up with blue plasti-tak. A friend told me that it took paint off of her wall, but I've only ever used it on wallpaper and have had no problems.

Once again, since I scanned my figures, I could print them out to any size I want. You don't HAVE to print out figures. You don't HAVE to have the Konos figures. You can simply make your own!

We love to pick up old history textbooks at garage sales. They are perfect for cutting out "heads". Simply use a blank template like above (or something similar) to make the body. Write the person's name on the body, showing their date of birth and date of death (if they have died!). Then glue on the cut-out head!

Aristoplay has a card deck that has famous Americans on the face of the cards. I was looking at these pictures of the people and had to seriously restrain myself from cutting up the deck of cards! Those colorful pictures would look great on our timeline! Take a look! --

Hmmm..... maybe I just might have to cut the cards up anyway! These pictures are bigger than the actual cards. Wow! (I slap my forehead here!) I can just scan the cards, then print and cut! Instant timeline figures, and we can still use the card deck!

Here is a picture of our timeline as it appears today:

In the lower left-hand corner of the photo, you can see that I have one sheet of tagboard with the figures for the first 2,000 years - Creation to Abraham. This was from the timeline book that we tried to make. As I was a little cramped for space on this wall, I chose not to put these items on the wall and simply use this page as a reference for this timeframe.


There are two lines side by side to make up the B.C. side of my timeline. (The lines I made and cut out from Print Artist.) On the A.D. side, there are five lines side by side to make one long line. You can see that I have set the dates on the lines so that the years 1 A.D. to 1399 A.D. are shorter than the lines from the 1400's on. Because we used our large timeline so much, Michael has a good understanding that between each set of dates represents 100 years. Also because of space constraints, I used a marker to mark the dates at the beginning and end of each B.C. line, rather than to print out a date label. I have not yet put up all of our characters. I'm working on them! But I wanted to get the pictures taken to be able to put them with the material here.

I've allowed 3" of space between each line. This way, when I have several people that need to be placed in approximately the same location, I have room to move them above and below the line as well.

I must also say that I wish I would not have used blue lines. So many of my figures are blue and the overall look is somewhat muted. (Especially on the UGLY wallpaper! Ugly wallpaper makes it so much easier to stick things on and into the walls though!) The figures would stand out so much better if I would have used a color (or colors) that would contrast with my blue figures.


As a last thought on all this timeline business, I do think it would be a wonderful idea to keep a three-ringed binder in addtion to a timeline. You could have a page for each person or historical event that you read about. You could scan photos for the page, draw pictures, cut out pictures and glue them onto the page, write short bits of information. Each page could be placed in its proper order in the binder. I wouldn't worry about putting a lot of "year" dividers in to start. I would probably simply show a divider between B.C. and A.D., adding dividers as we progressed and felt we needed them. Michael once wrote out the opening paragraph of a book about Richard the Lionhearted. If I would have had a "history" book going, I would have inserted this writing as well. By golly, this is exciting! I think we'll start a book soon! But I won't take my timeline down again! It is so important (for us) to be able to see the "big picture". When we did try our boring type of "timeline book", it was too difficult for Michael to try to flip back and forth and find the person and the timeframe he wanted. Seeing the entire timeline on the wall would make it so much easier to understand the "history" book.

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