Update: I finally got around to a long-overdue update to this resource. Most of the figures are the same, but there are a few changes here and there especially in the pre-history figures. I’ve fixed a few errors and updated the attribution links – you’ll find those at the end of each document (make sure you don’t print them out!) I’ve added a separate blank figures file to make it easier to customize your own in a PDF file. If you have suggestions or ideas on how to expand this resource, let me know!
It’s finally done! I’m so excited to share this with everyone (mainly because I worked super hard on it and I want it to be worth the work.) It’s free to download, but please, personal use only, all copyrights apply. These are timeline figures only, not the full timeline. If you would like to print out the timeline that we used, go to the Raising A Self Reliant Child Blog to download it.
About the Timeline Figures
Please note that these are secular timeline figures. The prehistory section included as much as I could cram in about epochs and eras, plus tracing the basic human timeline. I included dinosaurs and critters to keep it interesting for the younger kids. I know that prehistory is incredibly long, but it’s almost impossible to correctly show the range. For our timeline, we printed out extra pre-history blank pages (with the squiggly line) and I’m explaining to the Engineer that the squiggly line represents long periods of time.
Because I designed it for younger kids to spark their interest in history, you’ll see the date of the first Crayola right up there with the invention of the steam engine. I had a lot of trouble with the modern history section because of all the political stuff, wars, and horrible terrorism incidents. I tried to include the highlights and the world-altering events while keeping the anxiety-inducing history to a minimum. Please note that there is an emphasis on American history because that’s where we live.
History needs to be engaging and meaningful, so I crafted a set of genealogy write-in figures. They’re designed to write in the name of the person and glue in a picture, so that kids could add their family to their timeline. In the event that you can’t get an image, there’s a blank silhouette to use instead. Because I know that I missed a lot of interesting things, I included write-in timeline cards that you can write events on and illustrate with drawings or your own pictures.
Please, if you find a typo, comment and let me know. I used the Fact Monster website and InfoPlease website to confirm dates, and I found a few discrepancies while working that I fixed. If you think I missed some really important events, send me a comment and I’ll whip up some updates to add to this post.
I strongly believe in attributing ownership so all images are either public domain or creative commons licensed images. For more information, please check the attribution pages at the end of each link.
Because I’m an art freak, I also tried to include as much famous artwork as possible to help familiarize students with the work. U.S. presidents are included with the label of POTUS (President of the United States) and the length of term that they served.
Why Did I Decide To Do This?
It all started the way things normally do around here: the Engineer and I decided to do something (a timeline on this round) and I went hunting online for something free or cheap. This time, I found practically nothing. A timeline, but nothing to put on it. I found a few different figures that he could color in, and three sets of color Story of the World-aligned figures. Those were color images, but a bit boring for my active kindergartener.
We stood looking at our early modern history and modern history section of the timeline, and I could see the storm brewing. We had nothing. Zilch. What was I supposed to fill it in with?
The Engineer was excited about our timeline. I was trying to show him the linear nature of time and spark his interest in history. Until now, he fought tooth and nail because SOTW was “boring” to him. Yay. More curriculum we aren’t using.
I realized that I had a bigger problem – the SOTW sets left out so many things that I thought were interesting. There was no pre-history at all (understandable given the source) and the ancient history section was a bit dry for the Engineer. So, my project expanded. And kept expanding, until I lagged my computer out because I had too many images in one file. Which is why I have six subsections. Sorry about that!
I hope that my work will help you out, or help your child get excited about history. History isn’t about names and dates: it’s about world-changing events that could start as small as inventing a light bulb. History is exciting! History is fun – and my goal was to share that with my son, and everyone else who needs it.
Note: after writing this post I realized that SOTW’s non-secular viewpoint was affecting how history was presented, and has some flaws in the dates. I can’t recommend the curriculum, and after fact-checking the timeline cards that align with SOTW they’re a little off too. I do not recommend SOTW – we’re going to try Pandia Press instead.