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Timelines for High School Students

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Hi Everyone,


Could anyone tell me how they handle timeline work for older students? We have tried to use timelines in our homeschool, but dd didn't like putting figures on the timelines. The entire process seemed like busy work to her. However, if we use a WEM approach to history/literature, a timeline will be a visual way to anchor the work. I've read most of the posts on timelines and got a few ideas, but wondered if any of you have done something different. Full-size cardstock seems too large if we are not putting on figures (?). Also, has anyone worked out a method for color-coding the timeline; i.e. science entries in blue, literature in green, etc.? Do you let your student choose who and what they put on the timeline? I would like for the timeline to personal and meaningful rather than a school exercise.


Thank you.



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I see no reason to use figures at the high school level if they are not wanted. I’m planning on making forms on the computer for millennia (broken up into centuries), centuries (broken up into decades), decades (broken up into years), and years and keeping the charts in a binder.

For instance, one of the most significant dates in my life time is July 1969 – 1st moon landing. This date would go on all 4 charts – possibly only the year (or decade) on the 1xxx’s millennium chart. Dates of US presidencies are less important. All presidents may not make it even to the century chart, but that decision is based on personal preference.

You may not need the millennia charts if you are not doing a full history study (ancients to modern).

If she is old enough, you might let her do some research and decide for herself what she wants to do.

You can use the categories from the Timetables of History to assign a color codes.


Best Wishes

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Instead of pictures and color (which I thought would stick), 2 years ago when DSs and I did modern history, every 2-3 weeks I had them do "decade highlights" -- they jotted down 20 important (to them) people/events from a range of categories (political, sports, arts, natural disasters, etc.) whatever decade we'd just studied in partial sentences. (If you're studying a broader time period, then do key people events every 25, 50 or 100 years.) This type of timelining worked a bit better than having them paste pictures onto a timeline. Example:



1911 - Norweigan Roald Amundsen first explorer to reach the South Pole

1912 - the "unsinkable" Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage

1915 - WW1 starts with the assassination of archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austria- Hungarian throne


What about just buying a pre-made, colorful, visual timeline and keeping it handy to refer to as you discuss history, literature, etc? Perhaps just point out, or have her point out, where on the timeline you are with what you're studying, or have her add to it by writing in a few of the key people/events she's studying.


What about just having handy for reference this book which lists all major people and events in the categories of history/politics, literature/theater, religion/philosophy/learning, visual arts, music, science/tech/growth, daily life: "Timetables of History" (Grun)



Just a thought, but it sounds like a "hands-on" style timeline may not be your DD's style. (Even further, timelines of any sort may not be her thing -- not everyone is a visual learner or "connects" with timelines or finds them meaningful/useful...) Our DSs are just not that interested in timelines -- but they love history documentaries (very visual). Historical fiction and films set in specific historical times/places are another way that can cement key people and events within a bigger context. Maybe watch a documentary or historical feature film and then list key people/events happening at the same time.


Maybe she gets more meaning out of writing? If so, try having her write short papers (3-5 paragraphs), each on a decade or century, in which she mentions key people/events, shows trends and changes and developments, etc.


Maybe she's more of a "map" visual learner and might get more out of an atlas approach to history with an atlas of world history such as "DK Atlas of World History" (DK publishers) or "Atlas of World History" (John Haywood).


Does she have a strong interest in music or art? Have her connect through listing a trend in music/art with key political events/people and see how the arts reflect/comment on the social/political events around us. Or does she have a stron interest in science? Then make connections with key scientists and scientific discoveries...



Ultimately, we dropped timelines, as they just didn't seem to do anything for either DS. Instead, we discuss a lot, and I always try to give whatever we're talking about a sort of timeline reference (ex: we're right now reading Chaucer, who was writing when paper was first coming into vogue in Europe, so I added: "and the printing press would be invented just 60 years later, which would make literature even more widely available to audiences...) (another ex: "this event happened in 1878 -- that was just 13 years after the end of the Civil War...")


BEST of luck finding what works well for both you and your DD! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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We're using MFW's AHL program this year. Timeline is included. It uses Homeschool in the Woods for the figures. They have figures plus text.

And a mfw made timeline book. That book has pre made color coded lines for parts of the world where people/events fit. That way you see what was happening in "Bible history" and what was happening elsewhere at the same time. The dates are already made on the pages as guides.

It's all in a book to do.


It's not hard or time consuming part of the year. 10% of the grade overall for the year. Makes it quick to look at to anchor some info.



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For the past couple years my friend and I worked together with the kids and she gave them printed timelines in list form as we covered a particular time period. I know my boys filed them in their history notebooks and never looked at them again.


This year we are doing history on our own. I'm planning to print out a blank linear timeline to put in a binder. Then I'll have the boys write in important events (and even things that are important to them) as we cover them. If it doesn't do anything for them, it only cost me the paper for printing and the tiny bit of time to mark an event. If they want pictures, I'll just print out thumbnails from Google Images.

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