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“See” History With a Historical Timeline

History undergirds everything else we learn, and its place is often prominent in the homeschool curriculum. But it can be challenging for children (and adults!) to maintain a relative perspective on when historical events occurred. What events in Asia were happening concurrently with the American Revolution? Just how far from the fall of Rome did the Black Plague begin? It is one thing for students to learn about isolated historical events, but quite another to understand the interrelation of those events throughout time. In order to help students grasp the scope and influence of events throughout history, as well as how those events have impacted the flow of history and the nature of the world as it is today, a historical timeline can be indispensable.

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A historical timeline is a simple way to help children have a visual representation of a very abstract concept – when events are located in time. Students create a timeline, beginning with creation, all the way up to today’s date. Then pictures, symbols, or explanations of historical events are put on the timeline at appropriate intervals (as they are studied), to help students see when the events occurred. Historical timelines can be made in a variety of ways, or they can be purchased, to suit the needs of your individual homeschool. It is a great way to bring a hands-on approach to history, as well as appealing to all of those visual learners out there.

Historical timelines can take a variety of forms, to fit your particular homeschool needs. Here are some of the different types of timelines:

  • Wall chart timeline – This historical timeline covers a large wall, and provides plenty of space for adding people or events. The advantage of a wall chart is that it is easy to see and read, and provides a clear visual of the passage of time. The disadvantage is that it requires a wall in your house!
  • Storable timeline – An alternative to the wall chart is to put the timeline on a science project poster board or sewing board so that it can be folded and put away. This option maintains the advantage of a large visual, while not taking up a lot of space.
  • Notebook timeline – Putting a timeline on successive pages in a notebook can keep the timeline concise and easy to access. Visit (and scroll down slightly) to see a photo of a notebook timeline. Pages can also be taken out of the binder/notebook and placed on the floor in a long line to show the flow of history.
  • Index card timeline – Timeline events and figures can be put on index cards and stored in chronological order, as an alternative to a horizontal timeline. This choice makes the figures easily accessible without utilizing much space.

Excellent historical timeline resources for purchase:

  • Knowledge Quest Maps – This company offers several timeline resources, including the Wonders of Old Timeline book pictured above (available as both a hardcover and an e-book), Easy Timeline Creator software, Wall Timelines of World History, and History Through the Ages Timeline Figures from Homeschool in the Woods (more information below).
  • History Through the Ages Timeline – This awesome timeline includes pre-printed figures (that include explanations of each figure or event) which are cut out and pasted to your timeline. Includes figures/events from creation to modern times, and is available in a CD which allows for printing the figures in a variety of sizes. The website, Homeschool in the Woods, also provides information, tips and ideas on teaching with timelines. Incidentally, these timeline figures are featured in three of the above timeline photo examples – the wall chart, notebook, and index card timelines.
  • Parthenon Timelines Graphics – This site offers full color timeline posters of individual periods in history, such as Ancient Civilizations, The American Revolution, and World War II for about $12.95 each.
  • Learning Through History – This website provides a variety of historical timeline resources, including laminated wall timelines, blank timelines you fill in yourself, timeline templates, and a historical event/people sticker pack.
  • Wall Chart of World History – This book folds out accordion-style to a reversible 15-foot timeline. It covers all major world events from creation to modern times, demonstrating how historical events happened concurrently. The timeline includes biblical history and provides a wonderful way to demonstrate the interconnectedness of events throughout time.

For some free printable timeline pages, and other timeline resources, visit, or check out the timeline resources at TheHomeSchoolMom (including an article about how to make a timeline easily).

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.

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  1. It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this piece
    of writing as well as from our dialogue made here.

  2. I homeschooled many years ago and had purchased a timeline that came in a notebook. The pages were all glued together so that you could either make it a wall chart or keep it in a notebook. All the pages were blank so that you could fill them in as you went through history. Is this product still available, that you know of?

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