Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Timeline in a Binder

This is not a timeline for purists.  It's a timeline that fits in a binder.  Perhaps timeline isn't even really the right name for it!  This is a way to keep track of people and events as they fit into various historical periods rather than listing them along a strict line of dates.  It allows each child to have a separate journal and to add his or her own words and pictures to it.  This requires very little parent help.  Although this is not as visual as a true timeline, I've found it to be invaluable for helping my kids place people and events in history and remember them.

The website I found this on appears to no longer be available, so I'm posting this so the instructions will still be available online.

For this timeline, you will need looseleaf paper (I use unlined printer paper), a hole punch (if the paper doesn't already have holes), and a three-ring binder of some kind (so additional pages can be added later as needed).

On the front of each sheet, write a header with one of the following time period labels.  The back of each sheet will provide additional space for drawings or notes about people and events that fit in that time period.  You can allow several sheets for one time period, if needed, or you can add additional sheets as you run out of space on the first sheet.

Time period labels:
In the Beginning
Fall to Flood
Flood to 3500 B.C.
Ancient Civilizations (3500-500 B.C.)
Classical World (500 B.C.-1 B.C.)
Classical World (1-500 A.D.)
Middle Ages (500-1000 A.D.)
Middle Ages (1000-1450 A.D.)
Renaissance and Reformation (1450-1610 A.D.)
Exploration and Colonization (1610-1750 A.D.)
Industrial Revolution (1750-1940 A.D.)
Modern Era (1940-Present)

We use this timeline for historical figures, composers, artists, Bible stories, scientists, and any other person or event that seems of interest in our school studies.  I allow my children to add drawings or notes of their own invention, so many of the entries are quite crude, but as the entries accumulate the product becomes a quaint creation of the child's own.

I don't use a separate notebook for this but keep it at the back of the binder we use for other school papers.

Here are example pages from two different children's notebooks.
From my 7 yo ds
From my 12 yo dd


  1. Thank you for posting this great idea :D

  2. Kathy, THANK YOU so much. This is an answer to prayer. My son YR4 has been wanting to do this, but I didn't quite know where to begin. I love that he will be able to do it on his own--because now it will actually get done :-) I so enjoy following you on your blog and what you have to say on Ambleside's Forum. Thank you again. Andrea Greene

  3. A great idea, Kathy. But I was wondering if it would work just as well to put the time periods on poster board and hang them on the wall... Have you ever tried it that way?

    1. If you have wall space, I think a true timeline would be better. Putting something on the wall is not an option for me, so I haven't gone that route.

  4. Thank you for posting this, Kathy. The perfectionist side in me has had me sticking my head in the side while thinking of all the ways to make a timeline. Simple, easily adaptable, and child-centered. I like it!

  5. Kathy, a very boring question: how many pages do you add per time period? I have gotten into handbinding books, and wanted to make this for them!

    1. I start with just one page per section, but because we leave them loose, we can add pages if needed. If I were going to bind them, I'd put extra pages for the Middle Ages sections and the next couple after those, at least. Probably just one extra page for each.