We took out the fancy timeline books I bought for the boys and made our first entries. Why is that such a big deal?
Because a coherent timeline is perhaps the single biggest gap in my education. (Hence my embarrassing confusion about dinosaurs and humans.) I never made the links between bronze and kings, between silk and imperialism, between anything that happened in one part of the world and something that happened in another.
So I bought these impressive, hard cover, 100-page books for the boys to fill in as they grow up. A blank timeline, except for dates, runs from 9000 BC to the present, and kids can fill in important dates in human history that they learn about as they go. So this year, they might fill in Marco Polo’s travels and the settling of the Plymouth Plantation. Next year, the building of the pyramids, and the Revolutionary War. Eventually, as they fill in more and more, they will start to notice trends and connections. That’s the idea, at least.
You don’t need to homeschool to use a timeline, of course. Anyone can buy a book. Or make one. And take it out when your kids are studying the Civil Rights Movement or the Protestant Reformation. Are you getting psyched? C’mon, you know it’s cool.
The book I bought, Wonders of Old, A Blank Timeline Book of World History, has a list of important dates that kids could use to supplement their studies. It references biblical events, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I bet there are others out there as well.Today, the boys walked along the post-it-note Chinese history timeline that has graced our dining room for months now, pulling down index cards with information they thought we should record in the books. It was so much fun to walk down the timeline, talking about everything we learned this semester. If I hadn’t lost my cool with Ezra when he whined about having to write so small, it would have been a top five homeschooling moment.
In case you’re not convinced to click over to Amazon to buy a timeline, here’s this encouragement from the book’s intro:
What was significant about the year 1453 AD? This was the year that Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, the end of the Hundred Years War between Britain and France, and the time of the production of the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed book. These events are seemingly unrelated and yet the use of a timeline can unlock the mystery of why all of these events occurred within the same year. A timeline will give you a unique perspective of time. By seeing the events of history recorded in a linear progression, you will make connections between those events in history that you might not otherwise make as you study them separately.
I can’t guarantee that our kids won’t turn out to be history losers if we help them make timelines, but I’m giving it a shot.