Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Book of Centuries

Actually, we have four of them, one for each of the four younger kids.  I've had a couple of wall timelines over the years, but they never lasted long, the first because we moved and it just never got put back up again, and the second because the pictures kept falling off the wall.  I wanted to do a timeline book, but you know how they say that the perfect is often the enemy of the good?  It's true.  I couldn't figure out how to make one that would be absolutely perfect, so I put it off for years.

Finally, I just decided the heck with it.  All I need is a notebook they can glue pictures in.  So I bought four 1 1/2" 3-ring binders, the heavy-duty kind with D-rings because I like the way the pages lay, and a package of 8 1/2 by 11 cardstock.  Just before I started punching holes in the paper, I decided it would be nice to have lines on one side of the two-page spread, so we could write things in chronological order, so I ran the sheets through my printer, copying a sheet of notebook paper onto one side of each.

Note that "A.D." is in its proper place BEFORE the year.
You can just barely see the lines on the left page, but they show up well enough in real life to serve my purpose.

For each two-page spread I labeled the top and bottom outside corners of the left page with the first and last years of the century.  As you can see, this is the page where we write down the person or event, along with the correct date.  Generally, we have people listed by year of death.  On the right hand page the pictures are placed higher or lower depending on where they belong in the century, but it's pretty subjective.  The header names the century, and the number in the top right corner is just to make it easier to flip through the book when looking for a particular century.  That note is present on all the pages, even where we haven't added any information yet.  We fill in the other stuff as it comes up.

The early part of the book, up to 1500 B.C., has five centuries per two-page spread, but I think I could have gotten away with a millennium each, because there's not much of anything recorded before then.  The earliest date we have recorded is 4004 B.C., which is the date of creation according to Bishop Ussher, but there's a note that current creationists date it at c. 5000 B.C.  We don't get into the whole old earth/young earth debate until the kids are a lot older.

We've been using these for about three years, and the pages are still pretty sparsely populated.  Ideally, we'd add figures once a week or so, whenever a noteworthy person or event comes up in our reading, but we really only do it once a month or less.  Still, this is better than what I was doing before.

Here we are late Saturday afternoon, adding figures of Mozart, whom we studied last school year, Homer, the Trojan Horse, George Washington (whom we studied ages ago), Hannibal crossing the Alps (we're reading about Fabius, the Roman dictator who fought him, in Plutarch's Lives, but this was a funner picture), and Tennyson (our current poet).

Mike is not doing timeline stuff.  He's doing Computer God stuff.

The advantage to adding figures months or even years after studying them is that the kids can tell you what they remember while we're doing it, so it all works out in the end -- even if it's not perfect.


  1. Drat. Is AD REALLY supposed to go before the year?

    I feel like such a failure!! :)

  2. Yes! I had to white out all the dates on our timeline figures and rewrite them the right way! Does 2013 In the Year of Our Lord make sense? No. In the Year of Our Lord 2013. :)

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, Kelly!

  3. Yes, it really does, and I was doing the same thing Mystie does (when I remembered to) until I realized I could paste the figure into Paint and erase and redo the dates. It's prettier that way, but I don't always remember to do it.

  4. We update our BOC as things come up. We keep them next to us as we do each subject. The kids are looking forward to when they are in college, having these binders that contain the history of forever! lol

    Does anyone use CE and BCE? I taught my kids both.

    1. They know what CE and BCE stand for, and they've seen them in books occasionally, but we don't use them.

      How do you manage to update yours like that? I have to either review what we've learned or look ahead, then print out sheets with the figures on them. Sometimes they want to draw in their books, and I let them do that.


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