In ten years of homeschooling we've made lots of changes. Certain things get added, deleted, morphed and reinvented to fit our growing and changing needs. One thing, however, has always been constant. We've ALWAYS had some kind of time line in use.
In our old house, when we first started homeschooling, we had the ideal set up. We had two huge, empty walls that intersected in a spacious corner.
(Two walls that intersected in a corner. Duh. Brilliant architectural description that really brings the floorplan to life.)
Anyway, we had a "B.C." timeline that started at the floor and reached up to the ceiling on one wall, and an "A.D." timeline that started at the ceiling and went to the floor on the other wall. We hung a big, sparkly gold cross that Hannah made right in the corner for the birth of Christ. It was an ideal set up, and I distinctly remember logging some serious overtime with my level, ruler, and ticky tack, trying to get my strips meticulously adhered to the wall for my second grader, who was going to use it until her graduation day.
Or until we moved out less than three years later.
I've never had a method since then that could compare. I don't have large, expansive walls in this house that are time line worthy, except for a rather handy, long wall under my kitchen counter that just happens to be at a perfect child's height. (Not that I have a perfect child. But the height was indeed perfect for a child to use the timeline. Ha!) That was a fun timeline we used when the boys were very small. I let them make all the figures, which were great big and very adorably crafted by my budding scholars. Unfortunately, it was also perfect height for the cat, who is not perfect at all, and I nearly lost my mind constantly reattaching it to the wall.
One year we put butcher paper on the back of a door. During our Sonlight years we used Sonlight's Book of Time, which is a spiral notebook.
Now the boys and I use the Mystery of History curriculum. It is one of my favorite resources of all time. There are some parts of school that require prodding or negotiating, but I never have to beg them to come sit with me for history. They always ask to do it first, and I always say no. I use history as a "reward" (bribe) for getting through all the other stuff that does require a little prodding or negotiating. Isn't that mean? Anyway, in Volume I, which covers the Ancients through the resurrection, we followed the recommendation for making a Mystery of History timeline using a fold-up sewing board. (The old fashioned kind used to cut out dress patterns.) We had a key for outlining our figures so we could see which people came from the same regions or cultures.
We also added little symbols like crowns for kings and shields for those belonging to the lineage of Christ. We never actually finished this timeline. We still have a little zip lock baggie of figures that need to be added to the top because I ran out of double sided tape and somehow made 698 trips to the Walmarts without ever remembering to buy more.
Anyway, we've started Volume II now, which meant initiating yet another time line. The sewing board represents the "B.C." years. So, we're on to the "A.D." years, and I was on the prowl for something more thrifty than a $25 sewing board. Yesterday, the boys and I found this tri-fold science display board for just over $3, and although it is not as stable, I think it will work well. Mystery of History gave some revised suggestions for making a timeline in Volume II, and we followed their advice. First, we covered our board with patterned shelf paper (on sale for $1.90). Then, we used turquoise colored duct tape for our lines, proving to my young, strapping men that duct tape really is a viable solution to some of life's problems, but that you don't have to sacrifice style for function. And now we're ready to chart time once again.
Hannah uses her own timeline for her Worldview studies. She chose to utilize a big stack of old-timey computer paper. It is the green and white striped, accordion kind that unfolds for miles and miles. She prints small graphics off of the computer to use as visuals. When she is done, this one timeline will represent four years of study. I'll be honest that it isn't her favorite activity. But I know she'll be thankful for it one day. :)
Using a timeline has been such a constant in our learning. My one regret is that I didn't have one system in place ten years ago that all my children could add to over the years to create one, magnificent masterpiece of time. THAT would have been a stellar keepsake from our years of learning at home. I probably could have raffled that off to some wealthy great grandchild at a future family reunion to help fund my days of Bingo playing at the retirement center. So, if you're just starting out with homeschool or are thinking of adding a timeline into your routine, give some serious consideration to the method you choose. It could easily turn in to something substantial that will carry you through many years.
PS........Lookie what we found at the Walmarts while timeline shopping. Thank goodness we saved all that money on a sewing board so we could afford another mechanical hamster. I didn't make a conscious choice to compromise on educational supplies to satisfy my two year old's passion for zou-zou rats. It just happened that way. Now she has her very own zou-zou to love. And break. And all is right in her time and space.
You might think I'd grow tired of the zou-zou photographs. But no, apparently not. Don't you just love the great big hair growing out of this one's chin?? Look everyone! It's Great Aunt Zou Zou, learning her timeline!