I enjoy timelines! To read more of my thoughts on what type of timelines work the best for young (grade school) children, please read my previous post, On the Wall.
The type of timeline that I'm going to show you today is another type that would be good for grade school aged children. However, I did not make this one with a consistent number of years per page~ they vary throughout the different stages of history. I had originally set out to make this timeline with 10 years per page(one side of the file folder) from 3000 BC to present. I had to throw out that idea pretty quickly. It would have taken too many boxes of file folders and too many 3-ring binders! Never mind where to keep it!
What you will see here is Plan B.
permanent marker- 1 broad line, 1 fine line
straight paper cutter
glue sick (I like Avery Permanent glue stick.)
62 file folders (top & bottom tabs only)
2 three-inch binders
Step 1: First I ruled out the lines on graph paper. You could just draw a straight line through the middle of the file folder and skip the first couple of steps, but I really like having the grid lines from the graph paper to help the children in deciding where to put their timeline figures.
I marked the lines so that there were three squares above the line and three squares below the line. So after the first line, there were always 6 squares between the lines. You'll need 124 timeline strips.
Step 2: I carefully cut along one grid line to separate the timelines. Remember, three squares above and three squares below.
Step 3: (Yes, I know this is not a file folder. I forgot to take a pic. But this is how I did it.) You can only use the file folders with the tabs at the top and the bottom. The ones with the tabs in the center don't work because the timeline strip will hang over the edge. Once you have your timeline strips, find the center of the file folder, and glue the timeline strip down. I used my first folder as a guide so that I did not have to measure and find the center of every folder. I just laid the new folder beside the one that already had a timeline strip, lined up the strips, and glued the new one down.
Step 4: Once all the strips are glued down on the file folders, you will begin punching holes. This is the most fiddly part of the whole process. The file folders will not fit into a three-hole punch, so each hole has to be punched one at a time.
The real problem is that if you only punch one normal hole for each ring of the binder, the file folder will not lay flat inside the binder. This is not a problem if you intend to take the folders out to use them and only store them inside the binder. However, if you want to use the timeline like a book, you will need to punch longer holes for the folders to lay flat.
For the first folder, I laid a piece of notebook paper on the file folder as a guide for where to punch the first holes. Then I punched each hole 2 more times in a sort of line with the punches overlapping just a bit. After checking that this folder fit into the binder correctly, I used it as a template for all the other folders.
I put the template folder squarely on top of a new folder and used a pencil to trace the inside of the holes that I punched. Afterward, I used my hole punch to punch out all the holes that I had drawn on the file folders.
Once the holes are all punched, the folders should fit into the binder and lay flat when opened to look at the timeline strips.
Arrange the folders so that all of the folders with tabs on top are together and all the folders with tabs on the bottom are together. This will be important if you wish to take the folders out of the binder and fit them together. (More on this later.)
Step 5: Now it's time to begin putting dates on the timeline. I used a fine tip scrapbook pen, but any kind of permanent marker should work.
You'll skip the squares closest to the center of the folder so that you will have space for the holes, and you'll skip a square or part of a square along the outside edge. This will leave 30 squares in the center of each timeline strip. This will be the area that you label with dates.
For 3000 BC through 200 BC, put a date line every 3 squares along the line for a total of 11 lines. Each line represents 10 years. I only labeled the dates every 50 years. For example, the page above is labeled 2900, 2850, and 2800. The next page, I labeled 2800, 2750, and 2700. Each page spans 100 years. Each file folder spans 200 years.
For 200 BC through 1000 AD, put a date line every 3 squares along the line for a total of 11 lines. Each line represents 5 years. I only labeled the dates every 25 years. For example, the first page of this section is labeled 200, 175, and 150. The next page, I labeled 150, 125, and 100. Each page spans 50 years. Each file folder spans 100 years.
For 1000 AD through 1500 AD, put a date line every 6 squares along the line for a total of 6 lines. Each line represents 5 years. I only labeled the dates every 10 years. For example, the first page of this section is labeled 1000, 1010, and 1020. The next page, I labeled 1030, 1040, and 1050. Each page spans 25 years. Each file folder spans 50 years.
For 1500 AD through 2010 AD, put a date line every 3 squares along the line for a total of 11 lines. Each line represents 1 year. I only labeled the dates every 5 years. For example, the first page of this section is labeled 1500, 1505, and 1510. The next page, I labeled 1510, 1515, and 1520. Each page spans 10 years. Each file folder spans 20 years.
Step 6: Lastly, label the folders. On the folder tabs, write the beginning and end dates for that folder. This makes it much easier to find the section of the timeline that you need when they are all in the binder. You can also label the top right and top left of the inside of the folders with the beginning and end dates of that folder~ like the page headings in a dictionary.
Your timeline is ready for a binder. I think it fits best in 2 three-ring binders, but you could experiment with larger binders.
Now we come to the fun part of this timeline! This is the reason why you need to put all the top tabs together and all the bottom tabs together. They need to fit together. When you take the folders out of the binder, you can lay them end to end to create a long timeline!
This makes a great visual for children! You can take the folders out and stretch them across the floor to see all that happened during that time period. Or you can attach the folders together with stick-on velcro and hang them on the wall for a time. Or you can just hang them on the wall with poster putty. The file folders are sturdy enough to withstand the moving around and hanging. When you are finished with the timeline, you can put it all back into its binder!
More on timelines: