One of my favorite sections out of Laurie Bestvater's new book The Living Page was the section on Time Tools. In that section she described a variety of different kinds of time charts and time lines used at various stages in Charlotte Mason's schools, and what a Book of Centuries was really intended to be (not my topic for today, but suffice it to say that it is not just another timeline book). It was all really quite fascinating to me, and has me rethinking the way we are using timelines and time charts in our home. Our first wall timeline was a fail – it was too unwieldy and kept falling down, so we ended up retiring it fairly quickly. The past couple of years, we have been using a timeline in a binder which has worked better…although the binder is kind of clunky, and I'm realizing that I probably shouldn't be using pre-printed timeline figures for Michelle to paste on to the right page. I'm tossing around a couple of ideas for a replacement for her (and to start with James when he begins Year 1 in January). What particularly intrigued me at the moment, however, was the Stream of History chart. Bestvater referenced this Parent's Review article, and particularly this paragraph:
"It is to be understood that we have already provided ourselves with a condensed chart representing the 3,000 years of history, during which the stream, which has now become the river of modern history, may be traced with some degree of definiteness towards its earliest sources. Such a chart might easily be condensed to such an extent as to be made conveniently visible as a whole, say within the compass of at most a yard in length. On such a scale periods of ten years can be distinctly differentiated, while definite years may be clearly distinguished when necessary by the addition of one or two numerals. The facts recorded should be few, selected with care--key facts to the history of the time in which they occur, selected also in a catholic spirit, to represent, without bias, the real historical weight of the various political forces, which, in order to serve their purpose of historical landmarks, should already, before being introduced upon the chart, have been made thoroughly familiar to the pupil. The duration of dynasties, prolonged wars, social and religious movements, &c., might be made visible by the use of continuous lines, which will prove of great value in linking together successive events."
I loved the idea of this chart – compact size, easily visible, showing some carefully selected main events. But at the same time, I had a hard time picturing it. How to fit 3ooo years of history in the space of a yard?! So I decided to start playing around with it and see what I came up with. Here are my results:
I taped together three pieces of cardstock end-to-end, and carefully ruled a line across the center. I marked off one inch for each century, which allowed me to include from 1000 BC to the present day. We won't study ancient history in depth until Year 6, so I'm not terribly concerned about not having a space to add dates prior to 1000 BC right now. I added in a couple of key points of reference – the life of Jesus in relation to the BC/AD dividing line, and the birthdates of my children in the early 2000's, my husband and I in the 1970's, and the children's grandparents in the late 1940's and early 1950's.
I also went ahead and added in some of the key events that we have studied already in this first term of Year 2: Alfred the Great, Leif Erickson, William the Conqueror, The Crusades. We will continue to add other key events as we come to them. I had a hard time imagining how just the MAJOR events could fit on a timeline this small, but adding only 3-5 events each term shouldn't overcrowd it, I hope. It actually might be a really good exercise for us to decide just what those key events and key people ought to be at the end of the term.
Here it is up on the wall! I posted it right underneath our map since the map gets referenced often. I'm hopeful that the history chart will get referenced often as well since it's in the same place and all. J
Has anyone else constructed a compact history chart like this? I'd love to see it if you have!