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    Frugal Timeline Helps

    July 30, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    This is going to be our first year using a wall timeline. We read all sorts of history, and I like the idea of placing the events and people and other things we learn in relation to each other, and also in relation to, for instance, the birth of Christ, and ourselves. Conveniently, I have a lot of big blank walls in my home. This is a combination of a lack of funding and decorator-phobia.


    I checked out timeline packages from various school supply stores and online, and everything was just way too pricey for my budget. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money per se, but that I’d have to cut something else that I preferred.

    So we are doing a makeshift timeline that I think will have a lot more functionality than what I saw when I was shopping around, and I’m going to try and make it fairly attractive since we have to look at it for a year.

    First, the line itself will consist of a Cling Thing display strip. I cut a bit off the end for a project last year, so it’s not quite twelve feet, but it’ll work fine. {NOTE: The Cling Thing strip is reusable; I have been using mine for at least four years and it shows no wear at all. I plan to use it until the return of our Lord.} The strip will have on it the centuries we are studying {about 1000 AD to 1500 AD}. It will also contain the long line of kings of England. I found some great royalty figures for it online for free that I cut and pasted into a Word document.

    Because the kings of England are central to our understanding of history in Year Two, I am using them to “keep time” right on the major line. Above and below the line will go all sorts of people, places, events, and so on {I’ll get to that}. I will stick them directly onto my wall without damaging my wall using Removable Glue Dots, which I bought at a local craft supply store for less than four dollars. I am hoping to get at least two years’ worth of use out of these dots, making my timeline cost around three dollars per year counting the cost of paper and ink.

    Here are my categories for the areas above and below the major line:

    • Famous Christians {think Saint Patrick, Joan of Arc and Charlemagne}
    • Works of art {we are studying three artists, one each term, but I’d also include important literary works, like Dante’s Divine Comedy, which we’ll be introduced to this year}
    • Technological development {invention of the printing press comes to mind}
    • Wars and battles
    • Famous people {like Marco Polo or Christopher Columbus}
    • Important eras {like The Dark Ages or The First Crusade}

    I actually went through the entire year and found figures online for each and every important event. I figure this way I will only find myself in a bind on occasion when I either overlooked something, or we read something extra I haven’t yet planned for. My rule of thumb is that the figures should not be silly characters. I wanted them to be beautiful, artistic, reverent of the person or situation, and also representative of the era if at all possible. Wikipedia is a good source for paintings of famous people. I cut and pasted everything into a Word document, like I mentioned above, and then sized it down to where each item was two inches tall. This gave them all appropriate relative size for the line.

    For famous Christians, I found that searching the icon archives for the Orthodox Christian Church and the Catholic Church was helpful. I found some beautiful icons from the 15th century to use on our line. For wars and battles, I found one clip art item in Word that I liked and used it over and over, just putting a new name and date under each one. For something odd, like Dante’s Divine Comedy, for instance, I was able to find a famous painting of Dante holding a book and standing between Purgatory and Hell with the Heavenly Spheres floating above. For a famous city {Venice}, I found a beautiful ancient map. I also found a wonderful painting of vikings that was very bright and colorful, which was characteristic of this ancient people.

    This took two hours or so to complete, which isn’t terribly long as these things go, and it saved me a ton of money, and was exactly what we needed. There are so many resources online, that we really don’t need to purchase these things. I understand that some families have the money and so they buy the fancy sets, and that is, naturally, fine. But for those of us for whom it is not wise to spend our dollars in this way, there are other options.

    My last plan for the line is to go far off on one end {1000 years away in inches}, and add in the birth of Christ and any little bits of first-millennium {AD} history which come up throughout the year. On the other end, I want to go about 500 years away and add in a photo or drawing of our family. In this way, I think the scope of history will be put in perspective a bit.

    *Photos can be seen here: Edible Timeline.

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  • Reply Victoria April 25, 2018 at 9:45 am

    I’m about to do a century chart that shows significant events in my and my husband’s life to introduce the concept of events placed in time for my year 1 student. Do you think the timeline is better for this age? I hadn’t realized until I read this post that Mason didn’t start century charts until later. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 25, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      I really *do* think timelines are a bit easier for young ones to understand.

      Miss Mason did something like a century chart with very young children to prepare them. So you print out a chart, but the first square is the year your child was born and the significant even from that year is “I was born.” Then you can pick a significant even every year thereafter. Maybe “great grandpa died” or “Uncle Bob got married” or “my baby sister was born” or whatever. So they start on a chart but have their own life as a reference. It’s a good preparation — I wish I had know about it when my children were younger!

  • Reply Kassidee August 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Do you have photos of your timeline? I’m intrigued! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 31, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Hi Becky and welcome to AO {and Afterthoughts, for that matter}! Photos can be viewed at my post Edible Timeline. I am planning to post photos of my Year Four timeline in a few months once it starts filling in as we’re using a slightly different approach to managing the information because Year Four really slows down and focuses on only about 150 years. If it turns out okay, I’ll be sure and share about it! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Becky August 31, 2011 at 1:22 am

    This is our first year with AO and I feel like I’m stumbling through the preparation. So your blog is a wonderful help. I am anxious to see your timeline and wondered when you might post pictures? I am curious to see how you separate all the categories you listed.

  • Reply Rachel R. September 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    When I was in school (I was homeschooled), we drew ours. Mom had some templates printed out that were basically “gingerbread man” outlines, and as we studied a person of note, we wrote the name at date at the bottom and illustrated the person ourselves. This added a hands-on element to the timeline that aided in internalization of what we were studying. (They weren’t all people, either. I remember adding a timeline entry for the creation of the food pyramid.)

    I should probably try to dig up a photo of our timeline and post it on my blog.

  • Reply Brandy July 31, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Yes, the Cling Thing strip is great! I discovered it way back when Timberdoodle was still carrying it. The first thing I remember using it for was around the time when our daughter A. became two. She was interested in letters, so I typed them up in a large font and printed them out and cut them into squares. Then I would “teach” her a letter. Once she mastered a letter, we added a new one, and the line held her “collection.” It was fun, and we just looked at letters before bedtime or naps, nothing big.

    I will definitely take photos. We start nearer the end of August, but I’ll probably begin setting it up so that it is ready for when we begin. I need to measure it and figure out how much space each century will get, etc. Actually, Si needs to measure it because I am sure to mess it up! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Ellen July 31, 2009 at 3:11 am

    I’m looking forward to the pictures myself…

  • Reply Mystie July 31, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Make sure to post pictures once it’s started! Timeline stuff is very fun to me, though I think we’ll be postponing it until 3rd grade. I think it will take me that long to figure out how to do it in a way I’ll be happy with. πŸ™‚

    I have never heard of Cling Thing before — that’s some useful stuff!

    I admit to looking around the house we are moving into and thinking, “So…where will the timeline go?” πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kimbrah July 31, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Oh Brandy, you are always one step ahead of me! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, they are really helping me get an idea of what I want to do. πŸ™‚

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