Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Grade in Our Home: Timelines


I knew going into this year that I wanted to start some kind of visual history record with the children, but I was really on the fence about how I wanted to it to look and work.  I'm leaving the true Book of Centuries for their later elementary years or beyond, so I wanted something more like a timeline.  But I wanted it to be simple.  If they had to draw a picture for each entry, it would probably add another thirty minutes onto our school week!  Thirty fun minutes perhaps--at least at first--but I have the feeling that it would quickly begin to feel like busywork...and my kids hate busywork. I definitely didn't want our timeline to become a major project that I was going to basically be completing myself.  I also wanted something each of the children would do individually--a family timeline sounds fun, but I have several other littles in line after these first two go through the readings, and I felt like there wouldn't be much to add if we were all sharing a timeline.  So: something easy, simple, CM-friendly, able to be done by a child on his own, and useful in providing a good start toward understanding how the various events and figures in history relate to one another in the span of time?  I couldn't seem to find an easy method that would meet all those criteria, so we started the school year without and I kept thinking.

Then I came across the wall timeline Jennifer had designed for her children at Joyful Shepherdess, and it seemed to fit all I had in mind.  I wasn't looking for a wall timeline, though, so I made a smaller version--one to fit in each child's school binder.  I divided a sheet of paper vertically into three columns, then copied the template onto seven sheets of plain cardstock, printing on both front and back.  Then I labeled the columns by century, starting from the 21st century BC and ending with the 21st century AD, just as Jennifer did.  Then hole-punched and popped them into the binders--done!  



The next day, they began their entries.  We're keeping it very simple: just a list of names and a few dates, no drawings or narrations (unless they want to--that will be up to them).  And we're not entering all the people and events we read about--just the ones that stick out in the children's minds.  It takes just a few minutes each Friday to make a couple entries.



Right now, we're playing a bit of catch-up; we just finished Term 1, so we're working now to get current for the start of Term 2.  But so far, I think this is a great method for us!  My children were surprised to see Laura Ingalls Wilder, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Camille Saint-Saens in the same column, three figures from their studies that they hadn't connected at all.  They were also surprised to see just how long Rome spent trying to conquer Britain!  The best part about this method is it was so simple and can easily be changed out or altered later on--no big upfront costs or time.  So thank you, Jennifer, for the idea!

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing me to this post on your binder timelines, Celeste. I think this might be just want I'd like to start with my youngest who is doing Year 1. I want to keep it simple and I think this would work nicely. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good! It has worked for us for the last few years and I'm just putting together one for my rising 1st grader, who is very excited to have her own timeline like the big kids'. :)

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much for this post! We had been slacking on our "time tools" because my children were too young for the BOC and I wasn't sure how to implement something for the younger years. We will be putting this into practice soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad! It really is simple to start and maintain and had served us well. :)

      Delete
  3. I have been contemplating timelines for the past couple of weeks, and what I liked looked so time consuming and project intensive, that I knew we'd never get it done. I knew you'd have an answer! I will try this and see how it works out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, project-intensive pretty much never gets done around here either. :)

      Delete
  4. I'm putting your binder timeline together for my Year 2 daughter. It's perfect for this mom. Question: Do you have a set time during the week set aside for timeline work? If so, how do you decide what goes on it? As you're reading during the week, do you jot down people, events and dates to come back to during timeline time? Just trying to figure out the most efficient way to do the timeline. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Keri! Yes, I do have a weekly slot on the schedule for all the children to pull out their timelines and make at least one entry. I let them choose what to include. Sometimes (especially as they get older) they already have in mind a few figures or events from that week's reading. Sometimes they ask me to tell them the names we read about to jog their memory, and then they choose from there. Sometimes they make a note to themselves on their weekly assignment sheet as they read so they'll remember (my daughter often does this). For my Year 1 student, since she is still new to this, I jot down the names during my pre-reading so I can give her a list of some to choose from. And I do have them add our composer, artist, and poet to the timeline at the start of each term for reference. Our weekly timeline slot takes maybe ten minutes, including getting out and putting away their binders. ;) Hope that helps!

      Delete
  5. Celeste, I am really having a difficult time understand the difference between your timeline binder/pages vs a book of centuries. Can you enlighten me? 😊
    Also, do the kids keep their timeline pages in their regular school binder, or do they have a timeline binder? At what age do you transition to a BOC, and what does that look like?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went back and reread a little slower and found some answers to my questions 😉 But I am still curious as to how a BOC differs from the timeline binder system. Thank you!

      Delete
    2. Hi Rachel! Charlotte Mason's vision for the BOC looks different from the kind of timelines we keep in a few ways.

      Her timelines, which were used for Year 4 and up, had two facing pages for each century: one with a 100-year grid (like a century chart) and one blank for drawings or artifacts. So the student can really only choose one event per year to place on his or her BOC, and it's organized carefully by date.

      Our binder timelines are just simple columns -- we don't worry about ordering within the column because we're just trying to get at a general concept of how history works. They also can add as many figures/events as they want, so there is no need for them to select and cull. And there isn't a facing page for historical artifacts -- it is just the columns.

      The kind of timeline we are keeping is basically setting the stage for the formal BOC. It's best to wait on that one not only because it requires a level of thoughtfulness that younger children don't yet have (the ability to weigh one event against another in terms of importance, the ability to zero in on specific dates), but it also requires small, neat handwriting and a level of drawing skill as well. The BOC is a notebook they will start in Year 4 but ideally keep working in their whole lives -- that same notebook. So you want them to be at a place where they're doing higher level work that they won't be embarassed or frustrated by later. ;)

      We are choosing to begin our proper BOC in Year 6, when AmblesideOnline begins the second history rotation. It just seems like a neat place to start and allows for a little extra time to develop those skills I mentioned.

      Hope that helps!

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much Celeste! This makes so much more sense! I'm a visual learner, so when I searched images of "book of centuries" I kept coming up with some sort of hybrid between your timeline and what CM did for BOC's. Your explanation definitely helps. Is your plan to have each child keep these timeline pages in their binders until they transition to a BOC? Will you add pages to the timeline as needed, change pages each year? As always, I am very grateful!

      Delete
    4. Yes, most Books of Centuries that are out on the market are really fancy timelines, so it gets a bit confusing! :)

      Yes, my kids have kept the same timelines in their binders until they transition to the BOC in Year 6. We have not needed to add or change pages. What we have done instead is add in an additional history tool: a Century Chart. It's a way of tracking all the years in a century and would be another stepping stone toward prepping for their BoC. We did one in Year 4 and one in Year 5 since each of those AO years cover about a century. They used that for their history readings but still kept their timelines also, for things outside of that time period (like our composer, or a poet we were studying, etc.). You can see an example in this post on our recent finish of Year 5:
      http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-school-year-kept.html

      I hope that is clear! :)

      Delete