6 pictures from historic scenes, banner overlay how to use a timeline to learn history

Using a hands-on history studies timeline in your homeschool can be a great asset to learning! Since history never happens in a vacuum and is all about connections, using a timeline will make that all the more evident. So, stick with me as I show you why history matters and how utilizing a timeline will help your kids remember more about their history studies.

History Matters

While some may make light of the importance of history, I believe that learning history matters and that it is crucial for several reasons.

Things that happened in the past affect things happening around the world today.

The first thing to point out about the importance of learning history is that events from the past affect things that are happening today. Often, world events don’t seem to make any sense. Why are those countries fighting? Why can’t these people groups get along with each other? Most likely, the answers to those and many other questions are rooted in past events. Learning history helps us to understand problems and propose potential solutions.

Learning history may keep us from repeating mistakes made in the past.

Do you ever look at world events and think you see patterns or cycles in history? Mistakes from past events are often repeated, causing the same problems and initiating historical cycles where nothing seems to change. Studying history can help people see those mistakes and cycles and avoid repeating the past.

Learning history can provide great character lessons.

History is primarily about people, their choices, their actions, and the consequences of those actions. And from learning about people in history, we can see how their characters affected the world around them.

What might we learn from history about people’s characters? Honesty, wisdom, integrity, ethics, perseverance, courage, loyalty. We can also see the effects of cowardice, betrayal, deceit, laziness, weakness, and others. Learning about people from the past can teach our children important lessons about choices and consequences.

History is about far more than just names and dates!

May I point out that history is far more than names, dates, and world events? History is about people, their lives, decisions, and how events around them affect those lives and decisions. Geography is connected to history because geography affects how people groups relate to each other and how ideas spread. History is all about connections.

Historical events never happen in a vacuum.

Too often, we learn facts about history but nothing connecting those facts to the people and events surrounding them. Example: World War I started because someone shot the Archduke of Austria. But why? Why assassinate the Archduke? And why would that lead to war among many nations? What led to someone deciding that shooting the Archduke was a good idea? What were they hoping to accomplish? Several events led up to that assassination, and we would do well to understand more than just facts about history.

History is all about connections!

People, places, and historical events demonstrate connections. Events in one part of the world can be directly connected to things happening thousands of miles away! What does Gutenberg’s printing press have to do with the Protestant Reformation? How are the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution connected? What connection was there between the Civil War in the U.S. and political changes in Thailand (formerly Siam)?

Linking people, places, ideas, discoveries, and events helps us understand history better.

When we can connect people and events, people and ideas, or events and ideas, we learn and understand history better. What else was happening when Columbus sailed the ocean blue? Why were the Vikings raiding and plundering surrounding areas? What were they looking for, and why? Who was living (or who died) during the Black Death? Make the connections! Help your children find connections between people and events; you will help them learn history more effectively.

Academic retention increases when more senses are involved in learning.

Children learn in different ways and at different rates. As we homeschool, we want to offer multiple ways for our children to learn and remember what they learned. After all, can we call it learning if our kids forget everything we teach? One of the best ways to help them learn and remember is to involve several senses in the learning process. And the more our kids actively participate in the learning process, the more they will remember!

How can we increase sensory learning for history lessons?

So, how do we incorporate sensory learning into our history lessons? Typically, we have textbooks and questions to answer. Sometimes we might add some projects or reports to that mix. But how can we go beyond that? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Read books!
    • Textbooks
    • Biographies
    • Historical Fiction
    • Non-fiction about people, places, battles, events
    • Historical picture books
  • Listen to teaching/lectures
  • Watch documentaries or other historically-based video content
  • Projects and reports
Preview mockup. Dark and light green backgrounds, 5 pages from starter pack visible with explanations

Find out how to get your own free History Timeline Starter Pack!

Using a Hands-On History Studies timeline can also increase sensory learning.

Having your children use a timeline as part of their history studies will make use of multiple senses. And since multisensory learning is a practical key to learning retention, everyone wins! How, you ask? Let me list some potential skills used with a timeline.

  • Writing skills for labeling and identifying people, places, and events
  • Thinking and summarizing abilities may be used in labeling
  • Fine motor skills used in coloring, writing, and cutting out figures for timelines
  • Number skills will be used in determining the placement of additions to your timeline.
  • Logic and connections between people and events will be easier to see

How should you use a timeline for history learning and review?

Yes, you can put a timeline to good use for learning history and reviewing your history lessons. Your timeline will be an effective tool in both instances. (One note of caution, though. If you give tests in history and your timeline is on the wall, you might consider covering the timeline before giving your test!)

Using a timeline as you study and learn history.

Remember that whole multisensory idea about learning? Using your timeline as you go through each day’s history lesson will put multiple senses to work! Have your children add notes, figures, drawings, etc., to their timeline daily or weekly.

As you prepare your history lesson plans, determine which people, events, documents, and so on merit inclusion on your timeline. Either mark them in your teacher’s manual or list them in your lesson plans.

Then, set aside time for your kids to add those items to their timelines. You could make time every day for that or set aside a block of time at the end of the week, the lesson, or the chapter for this work.

Have your kids prepare whatever they need and add the items to the timeline according to dates.

You can also use your timeline as a tool for review.

Perhaps you want your kids to review their history lessons at the end of each week. Or maybe you want a special way to review at the end of a chapter or before a test. A timeline is a great tool for that!

  • List important people, events, documents, ideas, discoveries, etc., from the chapter or your weekly lessons.
  • Have your child look through his books or assignments to find the necessary information and dates required for each timeline entry.
  • As your children label and date all new timeline elements, have them tape, glue, write, or attach the figures to the timeline.

As they do this work, they review on their own, you are reinforcing their learning by having them find the information themselves and then using multiple senses as they add the info to their timeline.

Where can you find a Hands-On History Studies timeline to use?

So, you like this idea of using a timeline for history, but where can you find one to use? I have answers!

Make your own.

Although it will take a bit of time and effort, you can make your own timelines. You can use sheets of paper in a 3-ring binder for individual timelines, or you can opt for a long roll of paper or sheets of paper attached to a wall for a group timeline.

Once you decide on your format (personal or group), you must choose how you plan to make divisions for years. NOTE: these divisions can change throughout your timeline! You may start with each page or section representing one thousand years, then one hundred years, then fifty or ten years, and finally, individual years. It’s all up to you!

After determining your divisions, start labeling pages by year and begin adding information to your timeline!

Another option is to use my done-for-you Hands-On History Studies timeline Free offer.

Why not start with my free timeline starter pack? With this free offer, you will receive a base timeline page and a page of eighteen different figures to label, possibly color, cut out, and add to the timeline. The starter pack also includes instructions for using the template. You can choose either a vertical option – perfect for individual notebooks, or the landscape (horizontal) option – great for wall timelines. Also, you have permission to make as many copies of the pages as you need.

Preview mockup. Dark and light green backgrounds, 5 pages from starter pack visible with explanations

When in the World?

Free History Timeline Starter Pack

Timeline page, Instructions, Figures to copy and use on the timeline

Your children will increase their history retention by using a timeline. In fact, you may be surprised by how much you learn as new items are added to the timeline!

Carol Rhine Rhine Home School Services

Looking for more info about homeschooling? Check these out!

How to Homeschool Your Way

Important Dos and Don’ts of Homeschooling

New to Homeschooling? Learn these 5 Essential Tips!

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