Saturday, August 30, 2008

Prehistory Timeline

Nov 9, 2008 update: I'm editing this post a little to include more helpful details.

DS and I put together a prehistory timeline over 3 to 4 weeks. The picture above is a close up of how each period's page looks.

First, you'll need to get together some card stock or scrapbook sheets. How large each page is to be is completely your call or your child's choice. Size will also of course, depend on whether you're going to file it in a binder, just fold it and keep it in a shelf or put it up on the wall. We used letter sized sheets (8.5in. x 11in., landscape orientation) for convenience. Other than that you'll need some penmanship paper (like the one you use for handwriting practice or copywork) and the usual household glue, scissors etc.

Stuff you'll need:


Dinosaur Den


Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History by Jane Bingham
When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen


  • 15 letter-sized scrapbooking sheets/ card stock
    (choose colors of varying shades for a pretty effect)
  • Notebooking/ penmanship paper
    (match paper color with scrapbook sheets if you want)
  • Leftover scrap paper from cutting scrapbooking sheets to size
    (this will be used for page headers eg. Ordovician Period, Silurian Period, etc.)
  • Glue stick, pencil, color pencils or crayons, scissors and craft knife
  • Clip art from suggested websites could be color-photocopied or printed on normal printing paper or photo paper (cut out each clip art, leaving a border of about 1/4in.)
and copywork passages we used per period:

(DS tackled this project with lots of passion and was chief writer, glue stick manipulator and layout director. But if you have a reluctant writer and want to include these suggested passages, I would suggest writing the words for him/ her yourself).

1. Beginning of Earth

"The Earth was formed about 4,550 million years ago. It was full of volcanoes."

2. Precambrian - 4,550-570 MYA (Million Years Ago)

"The Earth is still very hot."

3. Cambrian (Paleozoic Era) - 570-505 MYA

"The Earth has cooled. It has rained for millions of years, creating huge oceans. Life begins in the seas."

4. Ordovician (Paleozoic Era) - 505-438 MYA

"The first vertebrate fish appear. They are jawless."

5. Silurian (Paleozoic Era) - 438-408 MYA

"Named after the Celtic tribe, the Silures. Land plants appear. More life in the seas."

6. Devonian (Paleozoic Era) - 408-362 MYA

"First land creatures appear. Ferns and seed plants emerge. Amphibians arrive!"

7. Carboniferous (Paleozoic Era) - 362-290 MYA

"Large amphibians and first reptiles roamed the land."

8. Permian (Paleozoic Era) - 290-248 MYA

"Trilobites are extinct. Larger reptiles appear."

9. Triassic (Mesozoic Era) - 248-208 MYA

"The age of the dinosaurs begins. Flying reptiles and early mammals appear."

10. Jurassic (Mesozoic Era) - 208-144 MYA

"Lush forests abound. Huge reptiles rule the land. Early birds appear."

11. Cretaceous (Mesozoic Era) - 144-65 MYA

"More dinosaur species appear. But by the end of this period, most dinosaurs were extinct."

12. Tertiary (Cenozoic Era) - 65-2 MYA

"New species of mammals appeared. Apes and early hominids (Australopithecus) appeared too!"

13. Quartenary - 2-0 MYA

"Homo habilis, homo erectus and homo sapiens appeared."

The last 2 sheets are to be used as a cover and back cover. You could enliven the project by recording credits, sources and so on on the back cover. Ask the child to design a pretty front cover.

Expect the whole project to take at least 3 weeks. Don't try to finish it in a few days because it takes time to print the clip art, match each to the correct period, get the child to write the descriptions, cut, paste and so on. If your child is only now beginning to use the scissors properly (like DS is, being only 5.5yo), expect cutting errors. We are so glad we stuck to this because it became a very fulfilling project and in the end, DS was so proud of it. The learning value is very high too because it helps the child to retain good memory and understanding of time and the beginning of the Earth.

Below is our finished product (stuck together with Scotch tape):

We accordion folded our timeline and keep it in a bookshelf.
Other possibly useful websites:
The Geologic Timeline (thanks Chrislyn Russamano!)
Education World


  1. Love this! Love everything! Love your whole philosophy. As luck would have it, your son is a year ahead of mine. (I've also got a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son.) I think I'll just shadow your curriculum while you homeschool, as so much of what you use lines up with my beliefs about life and education. I just wanted you to know that someone is out there appreciating all the work that went into this blog and this post! Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words :) For some reason, I am not getting any updates about comments so I just happened to read this. Sorry about that. As you will read, there are days when I have huge curriculum headaches :) In fact, we're midway changing curriculum (one or two materials) LOL! Reading your comments really made my day :)

  3. Love your Prehistory Timeline idea! My 4.5 year old and I have been learning prehistory and I was just researching getting a cool Timeline together. I also really appreciate your post here and will bookmark your blog for future reference. :)

  4. Glad it's of help Angela :)

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I have been scouring the internet for ideas on how to put together a timeline or lapbook of prehistory with my son and this is immensely helpful!


  6. You are VERY welcome Jessica! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Visiting from kez's Blog, love your timeline. :-)

    I'm your newest follower :-)

  8. So happy it's of use to you and thanks for visiting Kylie!

  9. This is so unbelieveably fantastic! You've inspired me to create a time-line. Finally, my scrapbooking supplies will be put to good use! Thanks for sharing all the good information and creativity!

  10. Gosh, this feels like so long ago. He was a few months shy of 6yo at the time. :) Thanks for bringing back the memories and hope K likes it!

  11. Just wanted to say LOVE LOVE LOVE your timeline. I've been searching the internet for a while trying to find a decent timeline of earths history lapbook that was NOT creation based. THANK YOU for sharing this! Stellar!

    1. You are most welcome. Thanks for leaving a note to say you plan to use it! :)


Comments are moderated and I will approve your comment as soon as I can. Thanks for taking the time to write a note!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...