Clothesline Timeline – Showcasing the Span of History

Call me a nerd but History makes me happy and things like historical texts and documents send chills down my spine; so it should come as no surprise that I adore timelines. There’s something so centering and empowering about seeing the vast span of time chronologically laid out before you:  a veritable information feast for the eyes.

So it probably comes as no surprise that the Classical Conversation timeline song was a big factor in my decision to join the classical Christian co-op.  One look at those timeline cards and I was smitten.  They are just so big. and beautiful.  and I knew I wanted them.  (You can read more about my decision to join this co-op on my post, Can My Secular Family Utilize Classical Conversations?)

I could pore over these cards often enough on my own and justify their expense, but as an added bonus, my girls actually love them.  The only downside to the cards is– ironically enough, one of the things I like about them- their large size.  They’re like extra large flashcards.  So unless you have an entire room you can devote to hanging them, or you don’t mind completely covering the walls of your house, you’re left leaving them on a ring or in binders as a book.

Which in itself isn’t a bad thing.  However,  what I felt was lacking was the at-a-glance view you can get from a wall chart/hanging.  I wanted something similar to my universe timeline or our evolution mat.

In fact what I really wanted was a clothesline timeline like the one I created using the Ancient timeline cards that Mary from Tending Our Lord’s Garden.  In our old house I had the timeline spread upwards on our stairwell.

So I decided to recreate the impressive expanse of time only this time the focus would be on the entire Classical Conversation timeline.  It required quite a bit of time– scanning, cutting, laminating, more cutting, etc.

I also added an extra step and placed a colored background to each card based on their “age” or time period.  I wanted something a bit “louder” than the colored corners on the actual timeline cards themselves.  What I envisioned was a distinct way to look across the span of the timeline and know at a glance what period something occurred in.

There wasn’t necessarily a reason to the colors I picked.  I just chose based on what card-stock I had available and I also tried to stick to similar colors that appear on the Story of the World books when possible since we are also using that resource.

  • Age of Ancient Empires- Orange
  • The Middle Ages – Blue
  • Age of Exploration – Green
  • Age of Absolute Monarchs – Red
  • Age of Enlightenment – Yellow
  • Age of Industry – White
  • Age of Information and Globalization – Purple

With these smaller, more compact cards, I can easily slide them into a portable wall hanging chart for on-the-go-ease.  I picked up this chart at a used-curriculum sale but you can find a similar one on Amazon.

As fun as the pack-and-go timeline is, my ultimate goal was to recreate the clothesline timeline.  So I picked up twine and some colorful clothespins to add a bit more “oomph” and then I carefully strung them up in my girls’ playroom—  and VOILÀ!

All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with how it turned out.  Sure, it was a labor of love; but the meaningful stuff always tends to be. . .  In the end- it was soooooo worth it.

What kind of timeline do you use in your homeschool?   I’d love to hear from you.

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About Kristen

Home schooling classically with a dash of whatever strikes our fancy.
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13 Responses to Clothesline Timeline – Showcasing the Span of History

  1. Jody says:

    Oh my goodness – this is amazing!! I love both the wall chart and the clothespin chart. How many cards are there and what size did you have to shrink them down to? How long did it take you to do all of this? You win Mom of the year for sure!!

    • Kristen says:

      The CC timeline consists of 161 human history events. The cards are really big (which I do like but I wanted something smaller too) so my final version consisted of them shrunk down to fit 9 cards per page. The biggest pain for me was not thinking ahead and printing them on card stock. That would have saved me an entire round of paper cutting. Seriously- some days I only cut 9 cards out. It ended up taking me over a month because I never designated a set chunk of time to work on it. I left it out on my counter for weeks and would walk by and cut a few out, then push it aside for later. For awhile there I felt like I would NEVER be done! I am really pleased with the overall effect though.

  2. Mama says:

    Love this! I, too, would like more specific info. on the process you went through to get the cards down in size. What size were they originally? And after shrinking? Very cool!

  3. Hannah says:

    This is awesome! Just what I’ve been looking for! Did you also copy/shrink the back of the cards? I imagine then they would have to be glued to the fronts, which sounds like even more work…wondering how best to go about this. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Kristen says:

      No, I didn’t mess with the back of the cards at all. I figured when we want to read up on a card we’ll use the original large ones. That’s when I really like the large binder format for the originals. As it is, the writing on the front (titles and dates) of the minis are rather small after being shrunk down so much. You would probably need a magnifying glass to read the back if you shrunk them down.

  4. Amy says:

    Ooo! I like it! I’ve read the idea of sticking a long line of velcro to your wall, and cutting small pieces to put on the back of laminated timeline cards. Then you can stick them on to display and pull them off to study. We are using the Veritas Press history curriculum (and timeline cards) and right now I just keep them in a pile and we sing through them each time we do history. One day I’m sure they will make their way onto a wall =)

    Doesn’t CC sell a mini version of their cards? I feel like I’ve seen someone post about them…using them on a magnet board or something…

  5. Love this-great idea! Very creative and that timeline will be in use for a very long time, so your labor of love was worth it! Great job!

  6. Candra says:

    What did you use to shrink them? Trying to understand how you got 9 cards on one printed page. Large Xerox machine? Also, what size are the finished cards?

  7. Cari Collins says:

    Kristen would you be willing to post the mini versions for us (so we just print them) not very tech-crafty moms? I am in my first year of CC and we have been putting the cards around the perimeter of our dining room and I have been SO wanting to have it be more visual as having to look up makes it difficult for my girls. Then I though about buying another set to have one I keep up and one I keep in the binder so I don’t fool with it each cycle. This is PERFECT!!!!!

    • Kristen says:

      I really wish I could because I have gotten a LOT of emails asking for the same thing. However, Classical Conversations has informed me that these images are copyright protected. It is in fact a full scan of the front of their cards. However, they also mentioned that they were looking into seeing if a ‘mini’ version would be a viable product and I have been directing all the folks that have emailed me to go ahead and send a email to CC’s customer service department ( and express your desire to have a more portable ‘mini’ option available for the timeline. Feel free to mention my blog post for reference if you would like.

      I’m sorry I can’t extend the courtesy of sending the files to you. I would love to help you but I understand and appreciate CC’s intention of keeping their beautiful cards protected from illegal piracy. Hopefully, if we can show there is a demand for this product we’ll see it in a catalog soon. (Especially considering the fact that they wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel and just need to shrink down what they already have . . . keeping my fingers crossed!!)

  8. Cari Collins says:

    Thanks for your reply Kristen I suppose my wish is then that I can be like you when I grow up. ;o) Maybe my husband can help me figure out how to shrink them on our computer. I LOVE this idea and really want to have the cards more visible for the girls. I will send a message it would be lovely to have them shrunk and intact!

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