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Category: History

American History has been our favorite subject lately, having started it last month. We are loosely following Adventures in America from Elemental History, but mixing it up to add a bit more to the program. We allow that program to lead us, but will explore tangents on our own. I timed this post to coincide with Columbus Day, a holiday I never really appreciated, being Native American and all. But Satori learned both the good and the bad about Christopher Columbus with all the resources we used.

After reading the short passages in Adventures in America, we loaded up BrainPop and watched their Columbus movies. If you don’t have BrainPop, here’s a free Columbus Day BrainPop Jr. video you can watch to see what the program is like. BrainPop Jr. is suitable for grades K-3, with the regular BrainPop for higher grades. We love both. Regular BrainPop also offers a Columbus video.

Along with the videos with the funny robot, there are also quizzes, activities, and more offered. We decided to do this Columbus activity, as it looked pretty cool. First, we printed off the free template three times, to make each of the ships that sailed to America – Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Satori colored one in and I colored in the other two and we cut it out.

Directions are included, all you need is a pencil, scissors and the paper! We labeled all the ships, Satori choosing Niña as hers, as she is a little niña (little girl).

To take this picture, I set the ships (taped them down) on our bathtub near the loft with the world map shower curtain as the background. I simply lowered the shower rod so the ships lined up nicely to show their journey across the Atlantic!

We also read three books – Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad, and Christopher Columbus. Morning Girl is about two siblings living as Taino Native Americans before Columbus arrives. Pedro’s Journal is about a little ship boy traveling with Columbus on his ship. I read both aloud. The last one was an easy reader by Stephen Krensky, so Satori actually picked that up and read it in a few minutes. You can see some of the books I’ve lined up to read (some now, some when Satori is older) on our American History book list.


We are using the American History timeline I designed. I’m putting it together in chunks of six pages, accordian-style so they’ll be easier for storage.

I used magnets to put it on our whiteboard and made little magnets for important events. Click the photo below to see one of our first two events!

Here’s another look across the top of our whiteboard. By this time, it is filled with permanent marker with the other events we’ve studied. The marker stays very nicely, but if we want it off, we use rubbing alcohol and it comes off clean! Using “removeable” permanent marker and magnetic stickers, we can test ourselves if needed.


I never know what I’m going to do when I wake up in the morning. Today the urge to make an American History timeline hit me and an afternoon later, I finished! I thought I’d share for those of you who might like it. It starts in the year 1000 AD when the first European set foot on American land and goes up to the year 2055.

It is 24 pages that you can print off in Landscape mode. There is a bit of space on each page (right of the light gray line) if you want to bind them together somehow, although since I made it in Landscape, I’m not sure what sort of binder would fit. I suppose just using your own cardstock, decorated by the child would work. You should be able to store it in accordion fashion if you don’t have room on your wall.

The download is in two parts because of restrictions of file sizes on my blog.

It starts with a Pre-Columbian page with century divisions, but the rest of the timeline has 5-year increments.

I may make an even earlier version later to show the Native American civilizations that thrived before the Europeans arrived. As half Native American myself, I intend to do a more indepth study with Satori next time around.

You may wonder why I spent an entire afternoon and evening making my own timeline when I already have a few up. As we started studying American History, I realized I would not have enough room on the timelines to add all the American History events. I plan to laminate ours. I discovered that you can write on laminated things with a permanent marker which you can always rub off with rubbing alcohol. It will be nice to have a timeline that can be erased in case we want to test ourselves on events.

Yes, I am officially a self-professed timeline addict!

I’ve also started compiling an American History Literature book list that I plan to read with Satori over the years. We have been very excited about learning American History this month! We’re using Adventures in America which is geared for grades K-2, and it seems a bit simple for us, but I’m grateful for its simplicity in getting started. I’ll be making our own plans for the next phase of American History in which I’ve already got some great books lined up.

Last week I wanted to totally wrap up SOTW1- Ancient Times by making flashcards, but was daunted by the amount of time I knew it would take. To my delight, Mary from Lizards and Ladybugs posts on the WTM forums to share her SOTW1 Timeline Cards for Ancient Times! Check out her blog post of her photos and download her free cards.

The cards correspond exactly to the events listed in the back of the Story of the World Ancients textbook. There are interesting slot games you can play at about the story of ancient world. There are 82 events in total. There are some events which aren’t mentioned in SOTW1 book, but perhaps covered in level 2 or other history books. I’m perfectly fine with that, these are all important dates to know.

Mary made up pages with two events with photos per sheet. Each image is six inches across, so you’ll need over 40 feet of space for the images. I don’t have that much space in the room I wanted to put the cards in, so I printed off four pages in one page, making them much smaller, and only three inches across. I then laminated, cut, and rounded the edges. Here’s the entire finished stack!

I had just enough space in the library to hang 30 cards. One more minor adjustment I had to make was that when I put the clothespins on the cards, it covered up the dates. So if you were to print them out, make sure you leave some space on top! In my case, I had already cut them, so luckily I had some clear tags with holes on top lying around. I stuck them to the back and fastened the clothespin to the tag instead. They look like they’re hanging in mid-air now, kinda cool.

Another advantage of the tags is that they can be stored together in a ring when not in use! I previously was pondering hole-punching each card, but this works even better.

So here’s our wall of time cards before I ran out of space and clear tags. I will have to make two more of these to fit them all. But I love how they look in the library, which is where we have been doing our SOTW History subject this summer anyway.

We can also easily stick them (with some putty) to our laminated Pandia Press timeline for removable cards. Love the versatility. Thanks again to Mary of Lizards and Ladybugs for all her work in making these timeline cards!

Next-Day Update

I’ve had a few questions regarding some of the things I’ve done here, so I’m going to append to this post a bit.

First of all, the clothespins are Lara Craft’s Painted Wood Mini Clothespins I got at Michaels craft store. I don’t have a link, but I’ve seen them there recently. They come in a box with a set of four, and there is a Spring and Garden set. Here is the Spring set with a few pieces from the Garden set. I also sprinkled a few other mini painted clothespins, probably also found at Michaels. The only link I could find on the web was of the Garden set at another online store.

Next, to print off  four pages to one actual page, you’ll need to select that setting when you print the page. This is the setting for my HP printer:

under Page Scaling

Lastly, someone mentioned that they had a hard time downloading the file. I do not know Mary’s email, but based on the comments on her post thread, she is responsive, so I’d let her know in a comment that you’re having issues obtaining her file.

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.

We haven’t really done many creative history projects lately, but I hope to spend more time focusing on history and doing some of the fun SOTW Activity Guide projects that we skipped. One activity we will do this month is build a Roman road.

I also think it would be a great time to actually make use of our history timelines. Due to limited wall space in our Learning Loft, I decided to take advantage of the bare wall along our staircase. Using 3M Command Strips, I can trust that these posters will not fall down from our rough, textured wall, and will come off cleanly once we need it too.

Here’s a section where we actually put up a few timeline figures probably over a year ago.

We look forward to filling it out more from now on!

This was the older version of the old Pandia Press History Odyssey Timeline. Here is a link to their new, updated 2011 timeline version that is supposed to work better with the History Odyssey program. We have this program and will incorporate it more in the future. They actually use SOTW as a spine.

Some of you may be familiar with the book BANG! The Universe Verse: Book 1 by James Lu Dunbar, which covers the beginning of the universe, stars and galaxies and black holes. Written for all ages to enjoy, the delightful illustrations and rhymes will educate and entertain your family. The second book of his wonderful series has recently been released – It’s Alive! The Universe Verse: Book 2. This picks up where Bang! left off, with the creation of our solar system, Earth, how life has evolved… In full color, this richly illustrated book is a great addition to our studies.

To celebrate, the author has released free PDF versions so everyone can enjoy his books! I’ve included his full email below, which includes the links to his free books. With permission, I’ve posted a few screenshots of his newest book.

It’s Alive! The Universe Verse: Book 2 tells the story of our Earth and how it was that life could have developed here from non-living elements. It covers the formation of our solar system, Earth’s early history, the fundamental principles of evolution and natural selection and the basic structures and systems of life as we know it. And all of it is wrapped in a river of well-written rhyme and richly detailed illustrations. Thanks to the generosity of my Kickstarter backers it is available for free as a PDF eBook, and it has been illustrated in full color.

Please download it and take a look. If you like it, please forward this email to anyone and everyone. I bet you know a lot of people who would find it interesting and would be happy if you sent it to them. And I bet they, in turn, know a lot of people… With your help, this could go viral and people (kids!) everywhere could have access to this wonderful resource.

It’s Alive! The Universe Verse: Book 2

Free Download: It’s Alive! High-Res (80MB)

Free Download: It’s Alive! Low-Res (5MB)

Preview online

Purchase the paperback ($15.95)

BANG! The Universe Verse: Book 1

Free Download: High-Res (30MB)

Free Download: Low-Res (5MB)

Preview online

Purchase the paperback ($12.95)

(These PDF download links will expire eventually. If that happens, just email me at to get a fresh set.)

There’s much more about me and all of my books (including a book of river riddles & a children’s book about calculus) on my website If you really like these books please consider buying a paperback or two. You can also become a fan of Jamie’s Books on Facebook or write a nice review on Amazon. As an independent author, illustrator and publisher with no marketing team or advertising budget, I can use all the help I can get spreading the word.

Many thanks!
Jamie Dunbar


Eventually I’ll begin work on Book 3 of the series, tentatively titled Great Apes!, about the evolution of the human race and the development of civilization. You can follow my progress at my new blog:

One of my most memorable elementary education experiences was learning about Greek mythology. I think I might have been in fifth grade at that time, but Satori is lucky to learn them at age six. We’re taking an extended study into the Ancient Greeks, learning all the fascinating Greek gods and goddesses and mythology.

To kick it off, I wanted Satori to be able to physically handle each persona as we talk about them, and I thought about making puppets, but that would take too long. Instead, I found this wonderful resource to print out your own Greek Mythology Flashcards. It took me several hours to prepare them, but finally I had them all printed off on cardstock, cut, and laminated with edges rounded.

The above website had an amazing assortment of greek gods, goddessess, mortals, monsters, etc… but they were missing a few important ones, so we made a few of our own. Excuse the rough sketches, but we get the gist of the flashcard at least. 🙂 I had to add these six flashcards – Dionysus, Hestia, Iris, Eros, Persephone, and Cronus. Some of these I had to add because they were some of Satori’s favorites.

If you wanted, you could even print off two copies of each, so you could play games like Memory or Go Fish, but we’ll have plenty fun with one copy only.

I even stuck a little magnet dot on the back of each card before laminating, so we can put them up on the magnetic whiteboard. Here’s all the gods and goddesses on their thrones on Mount Olympus. We included Hades, god of the Underworld, below.

We’re using the following books to learn about Greek mythology. The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki, is a quick and easy read, full of glorious color illustrations. It’s 48 pages and is suitable for young children, and is great to kick off Greek mythology, quickly getting up to speed with the main characters.

No family household should be without this amazing book – D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. I’ve had this for over a year, but only this month have we started reading it. Both Satori and I immediately fell in love with this timeless book, with the lavish illustrations and inspiring stories. It goes into much more depth than the above book, and we both can’t wait to read more of the stories. Along the way, we learn little nuggets, such as how peacocks got their tail spots or why we have winter during Persephone’s stay in Hades. We learn where we got some of our words – like Nike and Atlas. Satori is constantly reminded of Rick Riodan’s book we read last summer, so maybe she will get into the rest of his books now. There is even a Literature unit for the book, I’m sure we’ll get some use out of this resource.

Of course, we have to have a related coloring book when studying something major like this. Satori loves to color. The Dover Coloring book, Greek Gods and Goddesses is great for this purpose.

Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William F. Russell is also an excellent book that covers many of the greek stories, and it’s aimed to read aloud to children five and up. While there’s no pictures in this 264 page book, I love it’s detail and how it gives pronunciation cues (which none of our other books have done). It even has a Kindle version, which I’ll definitely be getting, as I’m very addicted to reading books on my iPad now.

When I was a young girl, my teacher chose Greek characters for our class, and I was Athena. So today, Satori and I have also chosen a Greek god or goddess for everyone in our household, including our pets. Satori is Aphrodite, Mama is Athena, Daddy is Zeus…

As I write this blog post, Satori is playing with her dolls, and acting out the Greek mythology stories. She can’t wait to perform a play for Daddy this weekend!  She just took the D’Aulaires book and is reading the stories over so she can better perform her plays.