We keep a Book of Years and add to it at the end of each history unit. I love teaching history in the right order, and making a Book of Years has helped us to see the overall context of the world and make connections even more.
I made our Book of Years using an oversized 11″ x 14″sketchbook. We used rubber cement to adhere blue card stock to the cover, and then I printed out some cover art I designed to adhere to the card stock. Here is our printable Book of Years Cover if you’d like to use it.
Next I used a ruler and measured 3 inches down from the top of each page and drew a light line, then cut along it, leaving it attached at the binding.
This allows us to record our timeline along the top pages and our entries in the larger bottom section. We can turn the pages independently of each other so that we can see the things that were happening in all the parts of the world at the same time in the timeline even though it wouldn’t fit on one page spread.
It took me a bit to figure out how to do the years along the timeline. The earliest parts of history are hard to manage because we don’t know much at all about the beginnings of the world, and the spread of years is huge during that time. We are religious, so we began with one page about the creation, Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and the Tower of Babel. The years along this page aren’t labeled.
Then we put a year split mark, indicating an unknown passage of time, and then began recording the events from the Layers of Learning units as we came across them.
After that page, we began with 3000 BC and had each 2 page timeline spread represent 100 years. When we reach the modern age I may spread that out to 50 years per page. I have extra pages in the sketchbook and there’s a lot of information we’ll be packing in there.
We create a little symbol for each unit and mark the symbol by the entries and also on the timeline so we can quickly see which civilization entries belong with. If we are recording a conflict between two groups of peoples the entries may have two symbols by them. The Persians’ symbol below represents the tomb of Cyrus the Great. You can see it on the page with the entries about Persia and also on the timeline items above.
I have each of my kids write and illustrate at least one entry for each of the units. Sometimes we learn a lot of interesting things and do more, but usually they just choose their favorite thing we learned from the unit to add to our Book of Years.
We try to hit all the really important historical events, but we also include things that are just interesting to the time and people we are studying. I let the kids choose what their entries are, so we have a big variety of things.
We love reviewing what we’ve learned using our Book of Years because the kids can see all their own work and they always get excited about it. It seems to trigger the memories of the projects we’ve done and what we’ve been learning. I love it too. It has become my favorite history book on our shelf.
Hope this helped you with ideas for creating your own Book of Years.
More From Layers of Learning
I hope you’ll go check out our history page for tons of free ideas and lessons to help you teach history. Also, see how we use timelines to solidify even more how the history of the world is really just one giant story. This post shows you a peek at our printable timeline squares on our school room wall. Almost all of our units include printable timeline squares so you can create your own. You can see those in our catalog. Hope you’ll come join us on social media too; we love meeting other grown-ups who love teaching kids as much as we do.