Charlotte Mason recommended that children from 6 to 8 yrs old make a TABLE OF CENTURIES. This was a large oversized paper with events recorded in chronological order. It was similar to the popular WALL TIMELINE many use today. I have found that having a timeline showing historical events in chronological order to be absolutely essential for my children’s understanding of history. Even if you are studying history out of order, plugging the events and people onto a timeline helps the child file them in their mind. The dates are not so important during these early years, but being able to connect one event with another is very helpful.
There are many, many ways to make a timeline and I have tried several, myself. I like to keep things really simple. Efficiency is my middle name, so you won’t find anything elaborate. On the other hand, I love beauty and cannot keep something unsightly in the house.
I also wanted it to be easy to take down without marring the wall, fun to make, not confusing to the eye of a small child and-- in keeping with Charlotte Mason’s idea of short lessons, not very time consuming. In the end I chose this:
It is not a single line around the room, but it goes across the one wall space I have and then starts over again beneath it the following year. On our wall, after four years of adding to it, the result is four rows about 6 feet long. (If you feel you do not have the space, you can always put it in a child's bedroom. )
a length of string (not thread)
three small tacks (one for the center of the wall to help support the string as it gets heavy)
colored index cards (a different color for each major people group in history)
small, hand drawn pictures that I have made, myself (but you can buy some ready-mades here)
Each week, as we read through Hillyer’s Child’s History of the World together, we cut out a small picture representing the event read about and glue it to an index card. My child colors it and adds it to the string on the wall with a paper clip. I do not usually write dates on the cards because they are not important at this stage but I have B.C. and A.D. taped on the wall. This only takes 5 minutes and it looks neat. When I want to test the children after several weeks, we play a game by taking the cards down and mixing them up to see if they can put them back in the correct order on the floor.
Our history rotation is four years, so this timeline is an ongoing project throughout those years. If a new child begins in the middle of the timeline, we just take down the first year’s cards and make new ones for that child while the older children continue adding to the others further down the timeline. We do not continue the timeline into the second History rotation. This is mainly for the early years.
We do not begin the BOOK OF CENTURIES mentioned in Charlotte Mason’s writings until later years. I will discuss this subject in my next post.