Thursday, February 12, 2015

An Accordion Timeline Notebook

Throughout our history studies, we've enjoyed keeping a timeline - on the wall and in a notebook.  Our first experience with using an accordion-style timeline was when we completed two Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers History Studies three years ago.  Since then, our timeline-and-history-obsessed son has wanted to use an accordion timeline for his entire timeline notebook. Note that it is not necessarily recommended to keep an accordion timeline for your entire timeline notebook because it is not as durable as having each page hole-punched. But... we're doing it anyway.  It's just great to lay it out on the floor and see it all at the same time!

Our accordion timeline for Homeschool
in the Woods Industrial Revolution through
the Great Depression.
We started out in 4000 BC with our timeline spaced in even increments, but as time passed (both in real life and in our notebook), we expanded the timeline, especially as we entered U.S. History and included U.S. Presidents and many more events occurring over a shorter time period. In our notebook, we will also include the accordion timelines we have completed for The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression (more about that one here and here) and World War II (and the many other Homeschool in the Woods studies we have completed).

Note that you do not need to make an accordion timeline to use these pages.  You can just print and hole-punch to make a normal Book of Centuries. 

Download the Timeline Notebook Templates:

Download a very simple template for 4000 BC through 2000 AD in evenly-spaced, 100-year intervals OR a non-linear timeline, spaced to accommodate more events as we get closer to the present day. ("Non-linear" meaning not consistent interval; the non-linear timeline includes 100-year intervals to 200BC, then 50-year intervals to 1500 AD, then 25-year intervals to 1700 AD, then 10-year intervals to 2010 AD). We personally recommend a non-linear timeline. Visit our "finished" timeline wall to see why!

Lines are included in the first three versions so that students can easily align clipart or write the timeline events in it neatly. A fourth version is included for those who would rather not have the lines.

There are four timeline templates to choose from:
The century timeline template: 100-year intervals from 4000 BC to 2000 AD.

Non-linear timeline template:  100-year intervals to 200BC, then 50-year intervals to 1500 AD, then 25-year intervals to 1700 AD, then 10-year intervals to 2010 AD. This accounts for the increase in the number of historically recorded events through history.

Condensed non-linear timeline pages:  Condensed, 46-page version of the non-linear timeline template. 1000-year intervals from 4000 BC to 1000 BC, then 500-year interval to year 0, then 100-year intervals to 1800 AD, then 10-year intervals to 2010 AD.

Condensed non-linear timeline pages, no notebook lines. Same as above but with no notebook lines. Includes cover page.

Each of the above files includes instructions on how to use these pages to make an accordion timeline for your notebook.

For a cover page to use with this timeline notebook, download our Timeline Notebook Title Page.

How to make an accordion timeline

Print on cardstock paper for durability.  Determine how much of the timeline you would like to see at one time.  (For our purposes right now, we taped 10 pages together to span 1,000 years, for a total of six notebook accordion pages.) Hole punch the first page for that interval. (To reinforce the holes, tape the right edge/margin with clear packaging tape before hole punching.) Cut off the right edge margin.

Cut the left and right margins off of subsequent pages for the interval you have selected.

Align two pages at a time and tape with clear transparent tape, front and back. (You can leave a very small (<1mm) gap between pages as you tape so that it will fold more easily.)  Continue to do this for the remaining pages for your selected interval of timeline. Accordion fold this interval and place into notebook.

Repeat until you have all 6,000 years of timeline ready for your notebook.

Our accordion timeline in pictures (of not-so-high quality because we seriously need a new camera right now!):

First two sheets taped together.
Multiple sheets taped together
All sheets are accordion-folded to fit
inside notebook.
You can still flip through the pages as you would a
regular timeline notebook, but you can also unfold
each section of timeline to lay it out as one piece.

For more information about types of timelines and the interval-spacing for timelines, visit Homeschool in the Woods Timeline Helps.  And for more about the various types of timelines we have used, go to our previous Keeping a Timeline Post.  And for introducing timelines, download the pdf Christ, the Center of Human History.

Where to get timeline figures:
Where do we get our timeline figures?  

We were originally using Homeschool in the Woods as shown in the above photo, but now we use miniature, scanned images of our Classical Acts and Facts Cards for our timeline because I am unable to find anything that coordinates well with the Classical Conversations timeline. (I cannot share these due to copyright.)  

If you would like a VERY SIMPLE way of making a timeline wall... this wall template.  If you don't have the space for a wall timeline of this scale, print multiple pages per sheet.  

For our notebooks, we currently use a combination of our miniature Acts & Facts History Cards (scanned and reduced in size), Homeschool in the Woods figures and Hold That Thought mini-cards (the website for this company is currently inactive).  In my opinion, the highest-quality timeline figures I have found are made by Amy Pak at Homeschool in the Woods (which you'll also find is used by Sonlight, Knowledge Quest, and a number of other companies).  You can download a sample of History through the Ages Timeline Figures here.

[I'm leaving this in, but Hold That Thought's domain has expired and I am unsure if they will be back up and running in the future!  Just in case, I wanted to keep this information handy.  If I find that their website is active again, I'll update this post with appropriate links.]  But... Hold That Thought comes in at a close second and has a great advantage:  all 1,100+ timeline figures can be purchased on CD-ROM for $19.95 (click here for a sample).  Hold That Thought also has a Bible/Church History CD (click here for a sample) with 899 figures starting with the seven days of creation and all the major stories in the Old and New Testament, continuing through the history of the church.   These CD-ROMs also include a duplicate set that allows you to write in the date, since there are discrepancies in exact dates for many events, especially in ancient history.  Both History through the Ages and Hold That Thought timeline figure sets include a fact with each person or event. This is a great way to extend our history and timeline studies beyond the "memory pegs" that we are learning in Classical Conversations.]

Tip:  To avoid sticky glue messes in our notebooks, we print our timeline figures on 8.5" x 11" full-page labels and cut them to size, but it can sometimes be difficult peeling the sticker backing off!  

You can visit Paula's Archives for a listing of various timelines and download the Mosaic Introduction to Timelines to see which kind of timeline would be best for your family. To view a comparison between various timeline figures available for purchase, go to the Timeline Comparison, also on Paula's Archives.  However, this is not an exhaustive list by any means.  (There's also History Odyssey and a number of pre-made laminated timeline charts, for instance.)  

Our other related posts:
Our Timeline Wall: What We Learned
Understanding Centuries with a Toothpick Timeline
Timeline Thumbnails {Free printable}
Our Classical Notebook
Keeping a Timeline

If you use a different timeline or timeline figure set, feel free to share that in the comments section!  I'm sure everyone would love to hear, including me! Also be sure to visit the link-up for other timeline resources and ideas!

An InLinkz Link-up

Post originally written September 2012. Updated and Republished February 2015.


  1. Sonlight sells timeline figures (that are stickers), but I don't know how well they would coordinate with your needs. They also sell a premade "Book of Time". :)
    I like your do it yourself one though!

  2. Add A Century Timeline is a nice one too. It fits in a binder but also folds out accordian style like yours. I haven't purchased it yet, but keep coming back to it because I like the style and fact that you can add to it anytime. I really like yours too - same format. I love everything you put on your blog - it has helped me SO much as we've just started our first CC year, and second year of homeschooling - Thanks!! :)

  3. This reminds me a lot of the Add A Century timeline. I have that one and I LOVE It. Again, thank you for sharing all your ideas.

  4. This is amazing. Thanks for your generosity to the homeschooling community and for the CC community! I was trying to come up with something like this during the summer, but didn't finish. Thanks for sharing yours. I, too, really enjoy your blog and the resources you share.

  5. Found you through Notebooking Fairy's November post - This is the perfect solution to my desire for a composer timeline. Thanks for the inspiration and the list of resources!

  6. Do you have the timeline pages in an editable format? Thanks!

  7. I do not currently have them uploaded (they are on an old computer that I rarely use now), but I will try to get a microsoft word version uploaded or emailed to you. Which version are you planning to use? (Condensed, nonlinear...?)

  8. If you get the chance that would be great. Thanks! Condensed please.

  9. So, I am new to the timeline this year! We have schooled with a private classical school and now we are full time with CC. We are going to do the accordian timeline. My question is when do you put the timeline figures on? Is it the history sentence or do you do it with the 7 figures we are memorizing each week? Thanks

  10. Thanks for your question, Lesley! Either way is a good way to do this. If you have younger children, it's easier to just do the history sentences, as I found that the history sentences are bigger memory-work pegs for them to better understand and grasp a timeline. But our family originally placed figures into the notebook for the 7 timeline events each week (sometimes we fell behind and had to check up the next week!). Having the entire timeline has given us a context for all other memory work that we come across or other history people/events we come across in our reading, but it boils down to personal preference. (If you go with doing all the timeline events, I suggest also placing a figure for the history sentence each week.) Another idea: Instead of purchasing timeline figures, you can have your children draw something in the notebook for the person or event.

  11. This is awesome! After reading the MANY ways to create a timeline ~ I am really happy to find yours that I think would fit for our family ~ thank you for sharing this idea! Blessings!

  12. I'm so glad you can use our accordion timeline! Thanks for letting us know!