Monday, August 2, 2010

Add-A-Century Timeline Review Update

Since my original review of Add-A-Century Timeline, I have been contacted by the company. I want to share some of that interchange, as I feel that it bears substantially on the product and on the integrity of the company.

I was contacted by a company representative who wanted to respond to some of my negative comments about Add-A-Century Timeline. I was reached through my personal e-mail rather than posting a comment. I felt that it showed great integrity to handle this matter privately rather than publicly on my blog.

The first comment was in reference to my statement that "not only did I not have enough pages to get us through one whole history rotation, I did not even have enough to get me through the first year." Here is the company's response:

"The idea behind Add-A-Century Timeline, the reason it was created, is to give you the tools to build your history timeline the way you want it, without the limitations of preprinted pages or predetermined spaces. I would have no idea how many (or few) pages someone will want to use per century when building their timeline. You could use one page or ten! Someone may want to cram more centuries onto fewer pages for the ancient times, while someone else desires the consistency of keeping all centuries with equal spaces. It’s up to the individual. If the Starter Pack is not enough, Add-On-Packs are available."

I understand the concept, but I still maintain that since the only specific example used on the website is to use two pages per century, it is reasonable to assume that one pack would be enough for a first year study starting with ancient civilizations. But it was mostly my fault for not doing sufficient research, which is why I wrote this review. Most people are not prepared to conduct the same kind of research for a timeline that they do for a curriculum. I hope to be your heads-up.

Next, the representative was confused about my comment that the dates to put on the pages were calculated wrong. Here is my clarification to the company on that subject:

"The marketing materials indicate that you can cover one century on one double-page. While it indicates that you can use them however you want, this is the only way that is actually specified. By applying the date stickers according to the instructions, the years 1 A.D through 5 A.D. and the years 5 B.C. through 1 B.C. end up in a 5-year column, even though the span is 4 years. Honestly, it is a very, very minor complaint. But it is nevertheless technically incorrect. I do understand the desire to keep the year 1800, for example, with the rest of the 1800's."

The representative acknowledged this point. I think it should be in the instructions, because when I got to that point, I thought I had done something wrong. She also acknowledge the vagueness of some of the instructions and indicated that they would consider my comments upon the next reprinting. In closing, the representative had this to say:

"I will keep your comments for when we reprint our materials. Add-A-Century was never meant to be a 'here's how you do it' item as much as a 'here, do it your way' tool. But as we get more customers, I see that the 'here's how to do it' option, along with specific instructions, is a good idea."

I felt like this was a very positive exchange, and I am very much willing to spend a little extra money to support people of integrity that are working to make homeschooling a better experience.

Now, this would be a nice place to stop. But I subsequently received another e-mail sharing an idea that they are working on and inviting me to assist in testing the product. I will not share any details about the idea in the interest of protecting their intellectual property, but it is a great idea and will save people like me a lot of money. I am really excited to help with this product, and after they are ready to market it, I will post my review.


  1. Thank you for both your posts on this product. I found them very interesting and helpful as I consider whether to invest in this tool. I understand you cannot reveal any details about their new idea, however, seeing as this post is nearly 2 years old, I was wondering if there were an update - an estimate at least for when the new idea comes available or if it already has??? Thanks!

  2. The producted I tested is now on the market as the "Ancient Line." I still think it is a great idea, but since I was trying to do this with a 5yo, it just became too much work. I thought it would be worth it since my dd was just so crazy about history and asking a lot of questions that a timeline would help to answer.

    The way it works is you take the ribbon and mark off with a marker the time spans so that they are the same length as the century pages. Then you are supposed to staple the event cards to the ribbon in the right places. This way, you can see all the events with all the space in between without wasting a lot of money on mostly blank century pages.

    I only got as far as marking off the centuries. I couldn't figure out how to display the ribbon in my home. A representative at the company offered to send me some things to help, but by that time I was just so discouraged. I had spent over a hundred dollars on this product and invested many hours to prepare to use it, and I still hadn't actually used it with my student.

    Ultimately, I put it away in the hope that when my dd is old enough to help, we would try again. We will be back to ancients in 2 more years, and she will be 9yo by then. So we will try again. My advice is not to buy it for very young children, even if they (and you) are very excited about it.


Latter-day Homeschooling