I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Why You Should Make Time for Timelines

Why You Should Make Time for Timelines {The Unlikely Homeschool}

"So, what was happening with God's people at that very same time?"

she asks nearly every day.  

This year, we're learning Ancient Grecian history.  And while my daughter is enjoying this particular study, she is not satisfied with bits and pieces of information.  She wants to know the relationship between one culture and the other.  She wants to see how one part fits together with the whole.  She wants to connect the dots from what she is learning about Ancient Greece to what she has learned from God's Word.  To put it simply, she wants me to pull out our ever-growing timeline and show her the completed puzzle of history.  

Since the very beginning of our homeschool, I have purposed to make timelines a priority.  We've made various simple homespun versions to summarize the events of history, current news stories, and even our own family life.   

Our space is limited in our teeny-tiny house, but, timelines are a MUST.  They have become a very practical and tangible way to show how God has woven HIStory since the beginning of time.  But that's not the only reason we continue to recreate lines of time.  

Here are a few more thoughts on making TIME for TIMELINES.  

Why You Should Make Time for Timelines {The Unlikely Homeschool}
My Father's World reproducible timeline figures

Timelines are a concrete method for showing a complex concept  

For most children, the ability to think chronologically (order events correctly in his/her mind) is not fully developed until about the third grade...that's just the truth of child-growth and development.  A young child might be able to learn the facts of a particular event...the people, places, actions, and even dates...but he/she will be unable to formulate an association of THAT event with other key events in history.  Piecing bits of time together is a learned, cognitive skill that doesn't usually present itself until the child is around eight-years-old.

Up until that point of cognition, a child can learn about the Civil War, but he/she will not necessarily be able to clearly understand how it relates chronologically to other events of history.  To a young child, it is a unit of time in the past.  Period.

A timeline gives a young learner a visual aid to help him/her see and understand the chronological order laid out long before he/she can "see" it conceptually.

Timelines connect-the-dots across the curriculum

In science, you learn about scientific invention and discovery.  In language, you read wonderfully enriching pieces of famous literature.  In geography, you study the culture and nationality of both modern and ancient peoples.  In family devotions, you read of God's people and great heroes of the faith throughout church history.  But the truth is, all of these famous people, events, and societal contributions are NOT singular points in time.  They are connected.  

History comes alive when you see how many scientific inventions came about from the necessity of war or a natural disaster...or when you recognize the literary themes of your favorite children's novel are merely a reaction to the current events of the author's time. A timeline is a cross-curricular tool to show how all of these noteworthy pieces of knowledge are connected.  

Timelines show the proper perspective of daily life

In this day of up-to-the-minute information, it is easy to become bombarded with and discouraged by the daily unfolding of tragic events.  A myopic lens can lead you to believe that decisions made in our government and around the world are earth-shatteringly epic.  It's especially easy for children who have lived relatively short lives to develop a very nearsighted view of a lifespan.  

A timeline often provides a proper perspective.  It clearly shows the BIG EVENTS...the ones that have shaped nations, cultures, and societies.  The "daily" does not seem so worrisome when placed against the momentous...the events that have endured the test of TIME.  I don't know about you, but in the ever-tumultuous era we are living in, I find comfort in the accurate panorama perspective that a timeline provides.    

Why You Should Make Time for Timelines {The Unlikely Homeschool}
Simple high school level timeline made from Dollar Store border paper

Timelines reveal patterns throughout history

Studying one era of history at a time does little to prove the notion of historical patterns.  But, use a timeline, and you quickly realize the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 which reads, 
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
From the fall of Creation to yesterday's news headlines, history is woven with patterns.  By seeing history laid out in a WHOLE, not just in part, you can begin to recognize the patterns in the rise and fall of empires, the success and failures of leaders, and even the ebb and flow of social norms and global trends.  What is IN politically/socially/economically/religiously today will undoubtedly be OUT tomorrow.  But wait a decade or so, and you'll see it cycle back to IN status again.  This is a truth worth showing to your children.

Timelines reveal the providence of God 

I like to think of a timeline as a large puzzle.  Each era, or major event, is but ONE piece of the whole. Put all the pieces together and you have a complete picture.  A timeline shows how God has and IS working all things for His glory and the good of His children.  A timeline takes a handful of seemingly unrelated events and pieces them together to form a finished work that only God could orchestrate.  

Over the last few weeks, I've had the benefit and pleasure of writing out my own personal biographical timeline for a class I am currently co-leading at church.  Even a timeline as simple as mine clearly shows the providence and love of God in weaving together a unique story just for me.  Put THAT small piece in the whole and you have an ever-lengthening timeline, providentially stamped with the fingerprints of God...one that reaches into the depths of eternity.

Timelines are demonstrated in Scripture

At the risk of making a discussion of timelines into a Spiritual debate, might I suggest that God, Himself, uses timelines?  His Word, both the Old and the New Testaments are full of them.  Why? Because timelines can help to reveal a heritage of faith...or lack thereof.  Scripture is replete with lists of lineage and chronology because they are a simple, user-friendly way of showing God's work in the history of His people.  

I've always found it fascinating to read the lengthy list of chronology in Matthew 1 and recognize that God, so wisely chose to show the connection of Rahab (the harlot) and Ruth (the Moabite), two gentile women credited in the lineage of Christ.  You can see in the timeline that Rahab was Ruth's mother-in-law! Knowing this, it becomes easier to understand how Boaz, a devout Jew, would so tenderly care for Ruth, one of the cast-offs of society. His mother had been a cast-off for nearly her entire life!  She undoubtedly helped foster empathy in him that drove him to compassion.  This simple assumption of the story would be lost if it were not for God's wise timeline of his people in Matthew chapter 1.  

Why You Should Make Time for Timelines {The Unlikely Homeschool}
A modified Sonlight Book of Time with child-drawn timeline figures

Are you beginning to catch my timeline fever but not sure where to start or how to make a timeline work for you? Here's a glimpse of how I have used timelines successfully in our homeschool over the years...even in our teeny-tiny house with no available wall space.

For now, be sure to check out my Make Time for Timelines Pinterest Board for some wonderful ideas and free timeline printables.


  1. This is a great post, and I heartily agree! Please consider linking this up at my History and Geography Meme.

  2. I love timelines for seeing God's hand in history! Wonderful post.

    1. Ditto! That's one of my favorite reasons to make a timeline.

  3. Hi Jamie - would you consider doing a blog post (or replying here if short) about the biography timeline you were/are working on for your class at church? I've recently become fascinated with the idea of using timelines for the purpose of showing God's glory! Thanks in advance! Blessings ~ Jen

    1. It was done in tandem with a class I was co-teaching. We each divided our lives into 7 year increments, answered a few questions about each seven year span to jog our memory of key events during that time, and then used those answers to make a simple timeline on a few pieces of notebook paper. The activity was to show us that even before we "knew" God, He knew us and was working His sovereignty in our lives. We also could see glimpses of the "good" that He can work out of the "bad."

    2. Wonderful! Thank you so much!

  4. Hello, what a wonderful post, I am really interested in the "My Father's World reproducible timeline figures" in the picture above.. Could you point me in the direction of how to find that? Thanks!

  5. Hi! I am writing a blog post about ways to create timelines online. I wanted to share a little bit about the benefits of using timelines for home learning, but, boy, you say it all here so well. I'd love to just link to this post. Are you OK with that?