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Archive for July 14th, 2011

In the midst of our study of life this year, I thought it would be fun to create a Tree of Life. The more I researched, the more I realized that a six year old and her mom could not comprehend the entire classification of life in just a few months, plus there are so many different tree of life diagrams. So I decided to make something extremely flexible so that when we study life again in the next cycle and learn more about genetics, we’ll be able to add/modify our tree.

Here’s our simplified version of the Tree of Life! (click to see larger)

I pulled out my magnet pages again and printed out some images about 2″ in size. I got the images idea from a huge Tree of Life image that Michael D. Barton pointed out to me (11 MB jpg image). We learned how all life fits in together and cool tidbits like how a hippo is related to a sperm whale.  It shows the most fantastic Tree of Life all sorted out with and colorful images. I’ll talk more about it below. (I found that the images are available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Licence.)

Soon our 4’x6′ white board was plastered with magnetic tiles! Can you find Charles Darwin? We printed out almost all the animals and some plants, including some species that are now extinct.

Hastily I drew up a simple chart and had Satori put the animals in their places. This is our second time studying the animal kingdom (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal), and recently studied yet more fascinating life types, so she knew exactly where to place almost everything. You can see a small print-out of the Tree of Life image that I used.

It is impossible to fit the images on a small 2’x3′ whiteboard so I took out some of the less familiar images and re-did the chart on our smaller, portable whiteboard. I love how flexible it is to make! Now all we need is a dry erase marker and we can organize it all!

I gave Satori a pointer stick and asked her to point to a few special things. Here she’s pointing out a Tiklaatik, a now extinct creature that was a link between fish and amphibian.

If there is interest, I could probably make a few sheets of images available free for download.

I also found Tree of Life posters available on Amazon, where you can choose from three different medias in nine different sizes. Although expensive now, they did give this poster away for free a few years ago for Darwin year.

Further googling led to this fantastic version of the online Interactive Tree of Life. You can zoom in on specific varieties of life and learn more about them, download a detailed image and more.

You can even do a search to pull up more information on the life samples included in their tree of life, and it includes links to research further.

We’re keeping in mind the statement below.


Another cool website I linked to earlier this year was Tol – Tree of Life Web Project.

I also have another idea for an interactive, flexible Tree of Life, this time with green window clings shaped as leaves and brown window markers. My idea to use a leaf puncher didn’t pan out though, as the vinyl cling is just too thick, so this idea is on the backburner for now. I don’t feel like cutting out dozens of leaves individually.

Our new Pandia Press History Odyssey Timeline arrived yesterday and wow, is it beautiful! Featuring vibrant full-color, it corresponds well to History Odyssey or other classical history programs, covering from 6000 BCE to present day. There are four separate timelines for each major period (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern Times), measuring approximately 5 feet long and 11 inches tall, giving you 20 feet of timeline. (Click for larger image.)

The timelines arrived all folded up in a flat envelope. Upon carefully opening the package, they were even more dazzling in person than I expected. They are made up of medium weight paper, easy to fold up in a binder accordian-style or hang on the wall. The flat timelines have a “lip” sticking out on one side, so you can hole-punch them and store them in a binder if you are short on wall space, and fold up neatly. If you do hole-punch them, I suggest using packing tape along the side or serious hole reinforcement tabs so it won’t rip out.

For these I decided lamination would be nice, as I wanted to be able to use a dry erase marker. Plus, I figure this will be our main timeline through all three stages of classical education, so I want it to last through high school.

A moment after opening the package, I made a spontaneous trip to Lakeshore Learning (over an hour away for me). They laminated all 20 feet, within minutes, by a friendly employee – for just $2.90! They have a huge laminator there and she stuck two timelines in at once, and at 26 cents per foot with their Teacher’s Club  (I got as a homeschooler), I couldn’t believe it came to just a few bucks. Plus, with a current promotion they have going on, I got a free reusable Lakeshore Learning bag. I got everything below for $3.10 including tax. Staples, on the other hand, quoted me over $40 and 24-hour turnaround. Yikes.

So I ended up with a huge laminated poster which I took home and carefully cut them apart. I love that laminating took away some of the folding creases. Now, the question was where to hang them….

It took me hours, but I finally settled on our foyer, which we think is a huge empty space anyway. It was the spot closest to the Learning Loft with adequate space and sufficient natural light.

Differences between Pandia’s 2011 and older version

The 2011 timeline is separated into four separate timelines featuring the following periods:

  • Ancients | 6000 BCE – AD 500
  • Middle Ages | 500-1600 AD
  • Early Modern | 1600-1850
  • Modern Times | 1850 to Present

The 2011 timeline displays 7 different categories displayed vertically along the left and right sides. The vertical space is 1.5 inches for all the categories except Eras/Reigns, which measures in at just over 2 inches tall, shown with lighter marking right in the middle.

  1. Art/Architecture and Literature
  2. Men and Women
  3. General Events
  4. Eras/Reigns and Dynasties
  5. Inventions and Discoveries
  6. Wars and Conflicts
  7. Treaties/Agreements

Within each timeline, years are consistently spaced, but not within all four timelines as a whole. This is an improvement for our purposes. Their old timeline was spaced consistently from Ancients to Present Day by 100 centuries. That ended up to be over three timelines dedicated to just Ancients, with very tiny spots for Renaissance and Modern Times, right when things really start happening. That makes it hard to actually put events on the timeline. For pictures of the older timeline, head to my April blog post appropriately named  “Wall Timeline”. Sometimes it is nice to see history spaced out evenly, so that’s why we’re still keeping our old timeline up.

With this new 2011 version, each period gets its very own timeline, giving plenty of space to mark events. The timelines are spaced differently, allowing for more space to fit recent events in shorter time.

For Ancients, time is spaced every 250 years, with approximately 2 inches of space between time markings. Our right side of the timeline is heavily populated, with the left side (toward 6000 BCE) very sparse.

Middle Ages has spaces every 50 years with about 2.5 inches between markings.

Both Early Modern and Modern Times are spaced one decade (10 years) apart. Early Modern has approximately 2 inches between markings.

Modern Times has a generous spacing of just over three inches between the decades. As you can see, each timeline has its own color scheme, along with beautiful color pictures representative of the time.

We have a few Pandia Press packets of B&W timeline stickers, so we used the Ancients to fill in our Ancients poster. We just finished Ancients this month and are moving to Middle Ages next.

The negatives? My only regret is that the stickers cover up the gorgeous timeline. I am thinking of switching to markers instead, as Pandia displays on their website sample. Click for big image.

Detailed Sample from doesn’t carry the new timeline on their own website as they used to, but you can buy it at RainbowResource (least expensive), Classical Home Education (where I purchased mine), or A Brighter Child. The timeline stickers are sold separately, Rainbow Price is listed as $6.50. You can also make your own timeline figures.

We’re excited to start using the new History Odyssey Timeline! We are actually going to use their program, History Odyssey Middle Ages Level 1 this year. They have all three levels for a classical education history program available, with the Level Three programs for Early Modern and Modern Times available in the future.