Book of Years

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.

Book-of-Years-Cover

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.

Book-of-Years-split-pages

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.

Book-of-Years-independently-turning-pages

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.

Book-of-Years-page-1

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.

Book-of-Years-Split-in-timeline

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.

Book-of-Years-2-page-spread

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.

Book-of-Years-Timeline-Symbols-match-Entry-symbols

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.

Book-of-Years-Cyrus-Entry

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.

Book-of-Years-Dragon-Entry

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.

Book-of-Years-Page

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Linda

    I really like your book of years – I’d like to get these going with my kids this year. Just one question… you put 100 years along the top timeline section but may have more than one double page filled in of the bottom section to match that 100 years. Is that right? What do you do with the extra little timeline flaps up the top if you use two or more double pages for the larger entries. Just wondering…. Hope this makes sense 😉

    1. Yes, we end up with multiple bottom pages for each top section. We just have blank small upper sections at the end. But later in history, as we near the modern times you can have the timeline increments get smaller. Move from showing 100 years on a spread to showing a decade on a spread.

  2. Mimi Pollack

    I’m a bit confused, after reading the comment above, and how in your post you mention being able to see what was happening in the world at the same time. So you depend on the icons to connect the top strips and bottom pages? Would you make a time line both on the top and on the bottom pages? I am curious as to the purpose of having separated pages into top and bottom parts – couldn’t you use full pages, and title them with a certain year span, and title the next double spread with the same year span if more than one double spread is needed? I am sincerely trying to understand the pros and cons. Thanks!

  3. Mimi, we put the timeline on the top and entries on the bottom. You could keep them together as you suggested, but the reason we don’t is that there is often so much happening in a hundred year span.

    Our entries are topical (we include several things about ancient Greece in a series of entries on one page). At the very same time there were other civilizations in other parts of the world. We couldn’t fit them all on one page of entries, but we can put a little mark on the timeline for them. Basically, as we add the date on the timeline it might say, “Ancient Greek civilization flourished.” Below it would have entries for Greek gods and goddesses, the Parthenon, Greek pottery, the firrst Olympics, etc. The Phoenicians lived at the same time. We would have another set of entries about them, but on the timeline we could show them together so the kids can see how even though we learned about them in different units, they were happening at the same time and coexisting and trading with Greece. There were also civilizations in many areas of the world flourishing at the same time. They each get their own entries.

    The little icons just help us to quickly find the entries that go along with it should we need to.

    The other advantage to separating them is that as you get into more modern years, you can spread out the timeline years and take advantage of the extra little half pages you have. Can you imagine putting the events of a hundred years of U.S. history on a little timeline? We change the spread for modern history so we can include more. Does that make sense?

    You could absolutely do it the way you suggested too. We just wanted an even spread of the years up until modern history, so I did the math and this is how it worked out. There are centuries that we have very little record of and others that are jam-packed. This allowed us to not have empty nor overly full pages. You don’t have to follow this style though. It’s just what we like. And we LOVE our Book of Years.

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