The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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History Portfolio and Timeline Review by Christine Field

Barbara Shukin

In our home, we have struggled with timelines. When I would put one up on the wall, some little one would seek to fold, spindle, or mutilate it. Plus, there was the problem of finding a wall large enough to accommodate a timeline. Difficult problems.

Therefore, we went to notebooks. The children had some difficulty deciding on a format and procedure. The result was less than satisfactory. It was certainly not a family heirloom!

Is such a thing possible - a functional, beautiful timeline for our child that could actually become a family heirloom? I did not think so until Barbara shared her portfolios and timelines with me. What a fabulous concept!

Mrs. Shukin uses the Charlotte Mason method of teaching her own three lovely daughters. She was intrigued by Mason's concept of producing a Book of Centuries that her children could use for their history studies. She comments, "Inspired, I began to design a book of time periods. I made or bought, books with blank pages and designated each for a given subject. I tried a scrapbook approach with a simple table of contents and later a modified Book of Centuries. Each of these early bookmaking ideas required too much thought on my part whenever we were making entries. In reality, I needed a book that could be used even when I was busy and distracted. I also wanted a book that would ultimately be finished. I wanted success."

Finally she came up with the concept of her History Portfolios and they are awesome! They can be used with any teaching approach - Charlotte Mason, unit studies or classical - and provide a vehicle for you and your child to create a living, beautiful record and remembrance of your studies. There are currently two volumes available - Ancient and Medieval. Future volumes will be for the Renaissance and Modern History.

What do these look like and what can you do with them? This cardstock quality bound volume is extremely versatile and user friendly. Each volume begins with a table of contents that can serve as the order of subjects for your study. The pages themselves contain text boxes, useful for narration and reports, map boxes that can be colored and labeled, and image boxes for the student to illustrate or paste pictures in. At the end of the volume is a printed timeline with time periods included and plenty of space for your own entries and ideas.

But that's not all! Mrs. Shukin also includes an extensive section of book recommendations for the time period being studied. The next section is a list of topics for narration and reports, which would be extremely helpful for those constructing their own assignments. The resources are rounded out with an extensive listing of important dates and events to help you plan your study in greater detail.

This is a beautiful product! For those of us who want to tie our history studies together in some fashion, this is the perfect vehicle! With these volumes and a library card, you and your child can embark on an exciting journey through history, stopping along the way to note details, events, and characters. Mrs. Shukin comments, "I wanted to create something that could be rigorous and practical, but also something beautiful that families would want to save. In developing the books, I tried to provide just enough guidance to encourage and inspire, but not so much that I would encroach on the family's and the child's own unique contribution, because after all, this is their book."

Do you love history and want your children to love it too? Help them to write their own book with this fabulous resource. It will become an heirloom and a remembrance that you will treasure for years to come.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, TOS Senior Correspondent