Thursday, October 29, 2015

Finished History Timelines (and instructions to make your own)

It has happened, we have FINISHED Mystery of History 4This concludes our last journey through history in our homeschool (at least till grandkids someday!)  We have traversed the complete history at least twice for each of our students.  Our goal was to "set the stage" so to speak the first time through, and create a lot of "links and critical" thinking in the second run through.  There were holes to be sure, but overall it was a successful journey.  (To see my recommendations for history curriculum keep reading...)

So here is Lexie's finished Timeline of history from our trip through MOH IV.  We did timelines with MOH1, MOH2 and MOH3 as well, so that we have now "timelined" the complete history of the world.  Our first time through we did our timelines on a big wall chart, but this second time through we did notebook timelines for each student.  These could be done with any curriculum, not just Mystery of History. 

For the notebook timelines, take card stock and cut one inch of each long edge for your pages, making them 7 1/2X11 instead of 8 1/2X11.  Now, take two more pieces of uncut card stock to become your cover and back.  For the cover and back 3 hole punch one edge.  Lay them out on a table (or floor) and use clear packing tape to secure them together.  We taped the back side only.  This way you can accordion fold your timeline and put it in a 3 ring binder or lay it out to look at it.  How many pages you need will depend on how much of history you plan to cover in one timeline.  The one shown above spans from 1700 to present (we did 50 years per single page.)
The cover (obviously well used!)

one of the pages, note the card "envelope"

For younger children putting your events on the timeline and drawing some sort of picture to help you remember what the event is may be enough.  Once our children were older we required timeline cards.  We made "envelope" pockets that we glued to each timeline page, and the index cards that went with the events on those pages are stored in the pocket for that page.

The index cards themselves have written on them the key facts about each person or event.

We used many things in our trips through time.  For the elementary years we were very "eclectic" and frugal!  The only true "curriculum" we used at times was The Light and Glory series by Peter Marshall.  We also used The Complete book of World History and The Complete book of United States History  as "spines", though I wouldn't really call them curriculum.  These each run about $20 and are secular (so there are mentioned of evolution), but I found them useful as a starting point and to know what were key events in a certain era.  From there we would expand with the library, internet, magazines and our own unit studies and projects. 

Elementary is a time to camp out on time periods that interest you and immerse yourself: eat the food, make crafts, read books.  Have fun with it, and don't worry about doing it in chronological order.  Young minds don't think that way yet.  There is plenty of time later to put the time period in perspective.  The library and internet are good friends for this time in your homeschool journey.  There is so much available we never felt the need for a "full" blown curriculum or course of study.

For the middle years we did start moving into a more organized and chronological study of time.  I recommend this starting when your oldest is 6th or 7th grade.  Being the frugal but busy Mom that I am. I did look for something of quality that had all the "extras" so I didn't have to think of them, and could be used for more than one trip through.  Though we ventured into other things, we primarily used the Mystery of History series.  Yes, they are not "cheap" ($40-60 each volume) but when I factor in that we used each of the books twice (expect book 4 as it just came out last year) for 4 students it was reasonable. They have different "assignments" for younger/middle and older which made it very "do-able" more than once.

During the middle and high school years we also used All American History (partly because MOH 4 was not yet available) and some of the Truthquest series.  We added in other biographies, unit studies, lapbooks,  magazines etc. which would be too numerous to mention in the scope of this article. (Not to mention the fact that I'm sure I can't remember them all!) 

In high school I loved to focus on the original source documents when we could.  Many of these are given as "suggestions" in the curriculum.  These would be things like Of Plymouth Plantation, The Mayflower Compact, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, even fun ones like Don Quixote.  Whatever we were studying we tried to "experience" first hand rather than let a textbook interpret for us.  Of course there are limits on this (or we'd still be trying to finish), but when you can don't overlook those often "free" resources.

So it is with great excitement, but also some sadness as we end our formal study of history.  I am pleased to report however that several of my children have really embraced certain time periods of history and made it their own passion to learn and study apart from school, which just warms any homeschool mama's heart!  My oldest son just returned from his honeymoon in Japan.  This has been a lifelong dream started with his study of the Samurai in Jr. High. 

I might also mention that though some may find our methods a bit eclectic, they have proven to be effective for at least two of my children.  Both of my boys found they had retained a lot (way more than I had hoped for) from our history studies and easily tested out with CLEP's and/or passed college American and World history courses.  My only problem was that when my son Taylor was looking for the text we used to study from I had loaned them to a friend and had to retrieve it!  So don't be too quick to sell your text, your college kids might still want to use them!

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