When my oldest son was in 5th grade, we put together a comprehensive timeline of American history.
He was obsessed with the Revolutionary War and I wanted him to see how it fit in the with rest of our history. We carefully wrote detail after detail, in blue sharpie, on one big poster board. He loved it. I loved it. (I kept that thing up in our dining room for years…)
Now, his younger brother is in the same grade and is also learning American history. Like his brother, I want him to see how the events we are learning tie into the broader scope of our history.
But he is not the type to carefully write out anything in sharpie, or any other writing utensil for that matter. In addition to being profoundly dyslexic and dysgraphic, he is a learner who thrives when he can touch, feel and visualize the information at hand.
Please know, although I was compensated for this post, I only share products that work well for my family, in the hopes they might work for yours as well! Affiliate links for the books are also included below.
I wanted something that would achieve the same effect as our previous timeline, but allow my son the freedom to learn the information in a way that best suits his learning style and needs.
The Giant American History Timeline Overview
These are two books available as a bundle, or individually, that cover American history from prehistoric times all the way up to the present. The Giant American History Timeline is available in bound copies or downloads, depending on your preference.
The combined books offer 261 activity sheets with 32 separate timeline plans. With so many different options included, it is a great way to incorporate more hands-on learning into a history timeline.
The Giant American History Timeline Book 1
Book One has a variety of early American history activities great for grades 4 and Up. It includes the following units:
Discovery and Exploration: Prehistory–1606
Colonial America: 1585–1776
The Revolutionary Period: 1765–1783
Creating the Constitution: 1781–1803
Expanding the Country: 1790–1860
An Age of Advancements: 1790–1860
Social Issues: 1790–1860
The Civil War and Reconstruction: 1850–1877
The Giant American History Timeline Book 2
Book 2 covers the following units with activities surrounding more modern American history:
Industrial Growth and Technological Advancement: 1870–1910
Big Business and Social Reform: 1870–1910
America and the World: 1867–1910
World War I: 1910–1920
The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression: 1920–1940
World War II: 1930–1950
The Cold War: 1940–1990
The Civil Rights Movement, Technology, and Terrorism: 1954–Present
The books include everything you need (and honestly, more) to create a variety of different timelines, including detailed teacher’s guides and answer keys. The activities incorporate various approaches to learning history, including historic character studies, key event discussions and map work.
The timelines themselves can be flexed to include all information, or just the activities most relevant to your study – all the dates, titles and arrows are included as well!
Why The Giant American Timeline Works So Well For Us
The sheer volume of options The Giant American Timeline offers allow for endless possibilities. I like that the questions on the activities are short and sweet, getting right to the point and allowing my son to answer without any concerns about his processing delay. I easily scribed his answers, but still gave him advanced exposure to American history.
The creators encourage families to use the books in any way that works best for their learning styles and educational needs. Boy, did we.
Each time frame in history has different activities from all different perspectives. For example, the unit on Westward Expansion in Book One, includes map work on the Louisiana Purchase, an illustration to study, caption and color of Lewis and Clark in the wilderness, a character study and perspective worksheet on Sacagawea (What words would you use to describe her? How is she remembered today?), an actual letter written home from a man in the Gold Rush, and creating a postcard from The Santa Fe National Historic Trail.
It’s a comprehensive approach with a variety of options for every learner.
Creative and Hands-On
This is clearly the best part of The Giant American Timeline for my little guy (and, if I am honest, for me). Creating a timeline allows for endless possibilities, but with very little work for mom. The activities are already designed to be interactive and creative. Cutting out all the elements and pasting them together in an organized fashion is easy.
My son was able to feel accomplished with very little help.
He chose to paste the elements for our first timeline onto a poster board. This made the activity a little more hands-on than taping the timeline to the wall, and also allowed him to carry the timeline with him from our kitchen table to our outdoor space (where we do most of our learning).
I think he did a great job!
Want to learn more about this excellent option for Hands-On American History?
The Giant American Timeline is offering a 20% discount for Not The Former Things readers. Use the promo code TIMELINE20 at checkout and receive this discount on The Giant American History Timeline Bundle (digital).
Even better, enter to win one for your family to enjoy!
Want to see how we incorporated movement into our timeline study?
In this week’s Friday Fun-Day post, I will be sharing how my son and I took his Giant American Timeline and brought it to life in our backyard. Come back tomorrow and take a peek!
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.