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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Tutorial: Create Your Own (Space Saving) Timeline

I can still vividly remember the first time that I was able to grasp the notion of "time" as a child, and specifically, how long "ago some historical events happened.

Only a good visual aide could have done the job!

I encountered the concept of an extended timeline while watching a TV show.  The show explained that the timeline (featured in the show) started during our current era, and stretched back to the age of the dinosaurs.  Then, the timeline was revealed.  

But, it didn't look like the timelines I was used to seeing printed in the pages of textbooks, or tacked to  classroom walls.  Rather, this was a big THICK roll of paper. The children in the show were given the cylinder to inspect.  

Slowly, the kids on TV set the cylinder on its side, and started to tentatively unroll the paper.  At first, they unrolled a blue section (blue represented how long humans had walked the earth).  Then they continued to curiously and carefully unroll even more. 

As the paper stretched, blue was quickly replaced by other colors (each new color representing an older era in the history of Earth).  Eventually the length of paper stretched all the way across the room.  The kids giggled and unrolled faster.  Suddenly they were out the door!  The roll of paper bounced down the porch steps, and into the yard! 

I watched, mesmerized, as the cylindrical timeline kept rolling and rolling, leaving a multicolored path.  Suddenly, entire ice ages, neanderthals, and the Paleolithic Era all came and went.  The kids on TV laughed with amazement!  They were skipping now, pushing the roll of paper further.  On and on it went, moving down the sidewalk and past other houses.  

Then, at last, a final red section was revealed; they had reached the era of the dinosaurs. And, they had also reached the end of their city block!  I was astonished by how far the timeline had stretched.  To this day, the image of that scene is still cemented in my memory.  

So, I wanted to provide my own children with a similar understanding of time, and with a fantastic visual aid! 

I also wanted a timeline that we could fill out as we learned, so it needed to be easily accessible.  Pinning it high on a wall would not do.  And I wanted them to have the same experience of "unrolling" time. 

So, I came up with an idea for a portable timeline that could be extended and also easily stored away when not in use.

How to Make Your Own File Folder Timeline

First, I adapted a very simple template to the length of time we were going to study (in this case it was North American History).  I modified it the "old fashioned way"  (by using my copy machine, a black colored pencil, a ruler, and plenty of whiteout)!

Click Photo to Purchase

Click photo to purchase

Our timeline goes from 50,000 BCE up to present day.  Because I wanted to start with the first humans migrating across the land bridge from Asia into North America, it goes really far back in time.  So I adjusted the time intervals to be more condensed near the beginning, and more “spread out” as it got closer to the era of United States history.  It’s still really long, and it easily stretches across the whole room!

For fun I added our birthdays too!

Then, using scotch tape I attached each paper together in a long line, and folded the pages like an accordion. I found it worked best to apply the tape so that it would be on the outside of each fold.  

At the end I flipped the entire length of paper over and went along the back horizontally with a length of packing tape too (to make it even stronger). 

Click Photo to Purchase

Click Photo to Purchase

Next, I cut a hanging file folder in half (along the fold/crease) so that it was in two separate pieces.  Then I glued the two ends of the timeline to the inner side of each folder side.  

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To make it a bit more fun and fancy I made a cover page (by hand, with my favorite brand of colored pencils!). 

*Side note: Prismacolor makes the very BEST colored pencils!  The link above is to a basic set. But, they sell them in much larger sets too. 

I attached the cover page using layers of colorful masking tape, and even added a bit more embellishment with Washi Tape.

Click Photo to Purchase

Click Photo to Purchase

*Note: The washi tape didn't stick very well, so I just went over the ends with more packing tape to reinforce it. 

Right now our timeline lives tucked in with the rest of the books I'm using for our study of US History (in an old magazine rack). 

But as a bonus, it can also be stored in a standard hanging file box too!

I hope this tutorial has been helpful to you.  If you have any questions (or thoughts) please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for stopping by!