Creating a timeline of history is much more than just busy work or a hands-on learning history craft!
Once upon a time, while I was still in college, I opened a birthday present from a dear friend. Upon carefully unwrapping (I’ve never been a tearer-opener) I discovered a beautiful leather journal. Now I must confess, at a time in my life when every professor was making us write papers or keep an academic journal, my first thought was, “Ugh, another journal. You’re really trying to help me out here with classes, aren’t you!” My second thought was far less grouchy, “It really is beautiful. I love the smell of leather!”
As I flipped through my new gift, examining the wonderful quality and weight of the paper, I discovered that the pages had already been written in. Each page had a horizontal line through the middle stretching from the left hand side of the left page to the farthest right side of the adjacent page with little vertical marks at either end of the pages and a different number above each vertical mark. Slowly, it dawned on me what this book was, and as the realization grew, my third thought was, “No. Way. This is the coolest thing ever!”
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Timeline of History
My dear friend had given me a labor of love. I held in my hand no regular journal capable of holding the procrastinate prose of a harried college student. Instead, she had given me a tool to create my own timeline of history.
Some time later, I flipped to the first page of the timeline and discovered that there was a quote by G.K. Chesterton written in my friend’s hand:
“History is a hill or high point of vantage from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living. A man without history is almost in the literal sense half-witted. He is only in command of a part even of his own mind. He does not know what half his own words mean, or what half his own actions signify.”
To this day, I consider that timeline to be one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. As I have grown, graduated, and become a teacher, I realize each time I enter a new date, a new event in history, that in my hands I hold a tangible lesson on the importance of time, and that continual realization has shaped how I approach time even in my own life. History is replete with both lessons to emulate and cautionary tales guiding us away from what not to do.
Only when we know our history can we see our proper place in it.
These are the lessons I am now able to pass on to my students. Each year, no matter what era we are studying, I have them make a Timeline of History so that they too can begin to see God’s hand of Providence in the past, realize that same Hand will guide them today, and remind them that they can rely on His faithfulness in every future endeavor.
I encourage you to make a timeline for each era you and your children are studying. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, make or purchase a journal that spans all of history. Be sure to include your children on the timeline!
Blank Timeline Template
No time to create your own timeline template? Need a starting point? We’re happy to offer a Blank Timeline Template. There is a choice of vertical or horizontal format.
Veteran history teacher Dave Raymond gives a comprehensive history of the United States by applying a Christian worldview to the characters, events, theology, literature, art, and religious beliefs of the nation.