Saturday, July 31, 2010


I've had this timeline project in my head for probably a year. It was always one of those ideas that I'd think of often, then dismiss with, "Well, that's something for when we homeschool."

And now we homeschool.

It involved repainting the basement hallway from the top of the stairs all the way down and down the hall and around the corner, a lot of thought work in allocating appropriate space to different time periods (it was never an option to make an uniform allocation of space--too many billions of years in which nothing interesting went on), and, yes, I lowered our house's resale value just a little bit more, but the girls and I worked hard on its preparation, and we're all three very pleased.

We begin at the top of the basement stairs. There's a foot and some change at the very top where nothing's happened yet because it's in the future, but soon enough, we're far back enough in time that interesting things have begun to occur:
I had not intended to permit the children to graffiti the wall, but as I worked on the timeline with Sydney at my side, and she began to draw all over with our Sharpies, VERY excited about "making our timeline pretty," I thought to myself, "Eh."

And so the timeline is pretty as well as informative:
As we walk down the stairs, we move even further back into ancient history:
I want our timeline to grow as the children's learning and interests grow, so I tried to keep my beginning entries as minimal as possible on subjects about which the children aren't yet interested (if you want to see an AMAZING and comprehensive on-the-wall timeline, check out the timeline at Ordinary Life Magic). Instead, I tried to only lay out markers, so to speak, placeholders that will help us put dates down accurately without a lot of figgering. So I've noted the beginning point of American history, for instance:
The Medieval period:
The Christian era begins at the bottom of the stairs:
The Classical Age:
Don't worry--when we get to a part of history that we're interested in, you'll be able to tell:
And when we get to a part of history that we're really, REALLY interested in, I think that you'll be able to tell that, too:
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals (Smithsonian Handbooks)As much as possible, I want to enhance the timeline with images--photos, magazine illustrations, ideally lots of stuff created by the girls--and of course I hope that the girls will take charge of adding anything from small notations to entire essays of their own writing as they grow. These current images come from a second copy that we somehow have of the Smithsonian Handbook on dinosaurs--we just cut that sucker up and glued it to the wall (remember what I told you about lowering the house's resale value?) Will and I cut out the entries on various prehistoric creatures that we're the fondest of. Sydney's cut-outs are different, but also pretty awesome:
Eventually we go back so far that continuing in a straight line would be either wasteful of space or misleading as to the time involved, so instead I switched to a spiral layout:
And in the center of the spiral?

We love our timeline, and already I can tell that it was a great idea. Context is everything, layering new information over old, putting events into perspective...

And we get to draw on the walls!

P.S. If you like the timeline, wait until I show you the maps wall.


Concetta said...

That is just so brilliant. When I was a trainer (in my previous life) I put a lot of emphasis is creating the people know where it all slots in. What a cool room!

Tina said...

you need a search function so I can stalk all of your timeline posts :0)

julie said...

The one on the very top left of the screen works *pretty* well, but yeah, it's not great. What I REALLY need to do is update my Homeschooling page--that's been on my to-do list for, like, a year.