There are lots of good reasons why your students should create a History Timeline.
First, history timelines help kids sort out what happened when in history. They can get an idea of what famous persons lived at about the same time in history, even if they lived on opposite parts of the globe.
With one glance, they can see the progression of people and events through the years, helping them to better understand how one (or more) person’s actions affected the world, and vice versa–how a world event affected, and possibly changed the lives, of one or more people.
The process of putting a Timeline together is a great way for kids to review their history topics. As a teacher, you can use this opportunity to ask students questions about the timeline figure they are placing, letting the students tell the story behind each picture.
And when the history year is done, students have a fun, scrapbook-style memory of everything they have learned. If you have your student create a history timeline, you give them a concrete way to remember who in history made a significant impact, and when.
So what are some easy ways to create a history timeline? We have several ideas for you on this page!
There are many ways to create a history timeline. Some make them big and cover a wall (or two). Others do them solely on the computer…sometimes to print and sometimes not. Others use display boards meant for science projects.
But most of the larger timeline ideas involve group efforts. In contrast, we like to have each individual students create their own.
So how can each student have one of their own? For starters, each student should create a blank timeline book…or buy one. Blank Timeline Books are a little like an historical scrapbook for your student. Each page has a date(s) printed on it, which runs chronologically through the book. Your student would paste in figures for historical people, places, or events on the appropriate page to correspond with what you are studying. The Timeline books are a great way to review everything you have studied, and they give the student a better hands-on view of when things happened and how they all relate to each other.
Listed below are Blank Timeline Books that you can purchase.
History Through the Ages: Record of Time by Amy Pak. Homeschool in the Woods, 2004.
Hard cover, blank timeline book with inside spiral binding. Includes 17 blank maps.
History Scribe offers a spiral-bound blank timeline book for a reasonable price. Pages are pre-printed with center datelines and surrounding boxes for you to fill in as you wish.
How to Make Your Own Blank Timeline Book by Carol Henderson. A Book In Time, 2011.
Create a history timeline book out of cardstock and labels for much less than the cost of ready-made editions. (see video below for details!) Make a complete blank book for each student that covers all eras, or print just enough pages for the era you are currently studying to keep in the back of your History notebook. Includes attractive artwork for the front cover and 4 major time divisions (Ancient World, Middle Ages, Age of Discovery, and Present Era), as well as lists of headings and dates. Print, assemble, and fill with your own Timeline Figures!
Also includes a planning chart and suggestions for Timeline Figures. See the Table of Contents and Sample Pages for more information. Please note that this resource uses BC and AD for dates (not BCE/CE). Find out more about our Blank Timeline eBook here.
Available for immediate download!
Watch our YouTube video demonstrating How to Make Your Own Blank Timeline Book —
Miller’s Blank History Timeline is a spiral-bound book with a dark, horizontal line going through every lightly-lined page. All other aspects of the book are blank for you to fill and decorate as you like! This one seems to be one of the better values in blank books!
The Sonlight Curriculum Book of Time – A Blank Time Line from 5000 BC to the Present
is a pre-printed, spiral-bound, blank timeline book dated from 5000 BC to the present.
The Tanglewood Book of Centuries is a PDF download that you can print at home and put in a notebook. (Please Note–If you have a printer that can handle cardstock, this option is great. For most printers, running a lot of cardstock will ruin the paper feed. The other oprtion is to use regular-weight paper, which is not the best for the gluing and general wear-and-tear of Timeline Books!)
Wonders of Old Blank Timeline Book by Terri Johnson.
Timeline Figures are small pictures of historical people and/or events to be cut out and pasted in a blank Timeline Book (or on a Wall Timeline). A short explanation & related date are written underneath the picture.
If you would like to purchase ready-made figures for your timeline, we have listed the best companies that offer sets covering different time periods. The figures are already drawn and ready for your student to color, decorate, cut out, and place in his/her own Timeline Book. Usually they are photocopiable for a family, but some of them require further permissions for an entire class.
You can also make your own Timeline Figures! If you would like to be creative and have exactly what you want in your Timelines, this option is for you. It is also a cost-free way to go! Simply find your desired pictures on the internet, resize them on a word-processing document, type a caption, and print!
Listed below are some resources that have a wealth of
historical pictures that are perfect for putting together timelines for
free! If you can’t find what you need, try an Internet Image Search for whatever subject you are studying. Usually copyrights are fairly lenient if the image will be used personally.
Heritage Studies from Bob Jones University Press has their Timeline Snapshots for 17th – 20th centures and includes all U.S. presidents in full color.
History Through the Ages: Historical Timeline Figures by Amy Pak. Homeschool in the Woods, 2003.
Great drawings with captions to paste into your own timeline book or chart. Offers complete collection on CD-Rom, as well as 4 separate packets: Creation to Christ (250+ figures), Resurrection to Revolution (280+ figures), Napoleon to Now: 1750 A.D. to the Present (280+ figures), and America’s History: Explorers to 21st Century (420+ figures).
Lift-the-flap Timelines: American History
Ten ready-to-go, instant timeline activities featuring dozens of key dates in American history. Topics include Westward Expansion, Immigration, Civil Rights, Presidents, and more.
offers free timeline instructions! If you love working on the computer,
click here to learn how to make your own timelines with Microsoft Word.
Sonlight offers their own sticker sets drawn by the same artist as History Through the Ages (above).
A Timeline for All Time is a spiral-bound book designed for the Christian student. Comes with illustrations.
If you know exactly what you need, try doing an internet Image Search on your topic/person. If copyright allows, right-click to copy the image, and paste it into a blank document, adjusting the size as needed. You can add identifying information (names, dates) underneath the image and print it out for your students, or you could print the image by itself and have the students write the identifying information under the image after it has been glued in their Books.
Other Sources for Free Historical Images:
U.S. History Images is a goldmine for Timeline Figures. Most of the site’s images are from the public domain, so copyright is usually not an issue.
American Journeys has an Image Search that is great for historical images. Type your topic in the “Illustration Title” search box, and you should get some good image results.
Historical Portraits — This Gallery from the University of Texas offers portraits of famous people with no restrictions on use. All of it is in the public domain.
Classroom Clipart has over 8,000 images in their History section on all kinds of themes and all periods of time.
PBS has some teaching helps to coordinate with the series A History of US by Joy Hakim, including an image browser with great images documenting America’s past. Please note that they link to “Picture History” with thousands of additional images; however, Picture History charges for their use, making it unaffordable for classrooms.
The Library of Congress provides a complete list of American Presidents with links to their portraits.
Timeline Reference Books list all historical events in chronological order from the beginning of history until the present. This tool can help you to decide what figures to put in your (blank) student timeline book and where to put them. The Timeline Reference Tools listed below the books do the same thing and are free on the Internet.
The Timetables of American History by Laurence Urdang & Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr. 2001.
A valuable resource for creating your American history timeline. Place all your figures in the right spot with the help of this book.
The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events (The New Third Revised Edition) by Bernard Grun.
If you want to make your own timeline, this big book will help you place all your entries! It lists all significant historical events in order, giving you just about every date you will ever need!
Usborne Book of World History Dates (Illustrated World History Series) by Jane Chisholm. Usborne, 1998. UE-JH
This lavishly illustrated reference book covers from 9000 B.C. to A.D. 1997. Date charts are backed up by fascinating features on important themes. Double-page chronologies follow what was happening in different parts of the world at the same time. Keep this as a reference as you place your timeline figures.
Reproducible Maps, Charts, Time Lines and Illustrations: What the Bible Is All About Resources. Gospel Light Publications.
Covers Bible times–its title describes it well! Can be used as a guide to make your own timeline, although it does not contain reproducible timeline figures.
Timeline Reference Tools list all historical events in chronological order from the beginning of history until the present. This tool can help you to decide what figures to put in your (blank) student timeline book and where to put them.
The Timeline Index helps you find Who, What, When, Where, or Which for any year in history!