Thursday, March 30, 2006

Our Historical Wall Timeline

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)

paper clips.

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.


  1. previous commentors30.12.06

    March 31, 2006 - I Love This Idea!

    Posted by MyLittleWomen

    This is great. I have been wondering how we will do our timeline, but I have little space. This may be the idea. Is there a way I could print this up for reference? If you could let me know that would be so helpful.


    March 31, 2006 - I was going to ask...

    Posted by MmeLabonte

    I've been looking at your history program, and I was going to ask you about your time line and simplified book of centuries. Thank you so much for all your help. I'm gleaning much from you!

    April 2, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by writmm

    Cool timeline! My DS is interested ancient civilizations, we may need to do something like this.

    April 2, 2006 - to Sommer

    Posted by lindafay

    Sommer, if you are talking about the post itself, then you can just copy and paste it into a microsoft word document and select all and change the font color to black so that you can see. Is that what you were asking?

    Actually, I just tried that and it put my brown background in as well. However, when I selected what I wanted and saved it as a TEXT file, it worked fine.

    April 3, 2006 - Thank You!

    Posted by MyLittleWomen

    Yes, Linda..that is what I was hoping for. Hopefully I will be able to actually do it. Thanks for taking the time to let me know how.


    October 2, 2006 - timeline/groups

    Posted by Anonymous

    Help Linda! Love the timeline!!! I'm going to do this right away! I was wondering how you grouped the "people" of history with the different colors. Can you explain that part?

    October 2, 2006 - Untitled Comment

    Posted by lindafay

    Hi Tiffany,

    We organized ours by major civilizations when they rose to power.

    blue- Greeks
    pink- Romans
    orange-America (North, Central and South)
    white- other civilizations (Assyrians, Babylonians, Confucius, Mohammed, etc...)

    Sometimes we put a famous person on our card, or sometimes it a major event, instead.


  2. This is very helpful. I do have a few questions.

    I read that you read through CHOW each week and then make your cards. Do you begin with creation and only use CHOW chapters to create your list of important events or people? Or, do you also incorporate Bible readings/stories (Cain/Abel, etc, etc.) into the timeline?

    Also, do you use This Country Of Ours to add to the timeline since the two history studies are going simultaneously?

    (I am asking in regards to first grade since that is where we are.)

    Thank you.

  3. Jen,
    I mostly use CHOW but I do add major Bible characters and events. I just took a picture of our complete timeline on the back door of our school room so I'll post that soon.

    I do not add TCOO to the timeline. It is just too confusing. Instead, my child keeps a simple timeline notebook over a three year period called "My America." I've been asked to show how we do this by others but haven't posted on it yet. Hope to do that next week.

  4. Anonymous30.1.08

    I just viewed your timeline. I'm so excited. It's exactly what I'm looking for (I'm a fellow AO user) and it's simple for a 6 year old which is great! I hope this isn't asking too much, but since I've been agonizing for months and months whether to start with World history for a 6 yr. old (CHOW or Mystery of History) or start with American History first (TruthQuest)and backtrack when they're older and better able to understand all the possibly confusing World History info. (supposedly), but then I wonder if it would be more confusing because it's out of order?? Could I get your .02 on this? I'd really appreciate it.
    Thank you and you're blog is such a blessing.

  5. Suzy,
    I think you already found my scope and sequence and thus figured out my answer to your question already. In short, I have found it not to be confusing at all for my kids doing two history periods. But we only keep one timeline of World History. I used to agonize over the same question but really, it hasn't been any trouble for my kids.

  6. You are truly inspirational!

    I have linked your post on my blog. Hope that is okay.

    Thanks for all that you do for us all.


  7. Jeanne,
    Of course, it's okay. I am honored.

  8. I love these ideas. I've been wondering how to pull this off. I've tried several times too to do a timeline and have always failed. This looks very doable. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. I have posted about our timeline from this past year and I linked to your blog. Feel free to check out the post here:

  10. Love this timeline. Thank you for sharing. What size index cards do you use?

  11. great idea and so much more simple than what I was planning on doing! Love it! Subscribing via email Thanks!