Introducing a Timeline: Part One




Putting historical events in chronological order is sometimes complex, especially for younger students. Understanding B.C.E. (before common era) and C.E. (common era) for example, can be confusing. This lesson introduces timelines, allowing students to start organizing events in their own lives chronologically.




Elementary students will think about their own life in a timeline and recognize a sequence of events. Learning this skill will facilitate future timelines for historical events or specific eras.


Grade level/Subject area:


      Elementary K 2

      Social Studies

      Arizona History

      US History



Materials: rulers, pre-cut timeline paper, crayons, list of events


Instructional Strategies:


  1. Opening: Begin by asking questions, such as: When was the first day of school? When is the next holiday vacation? When is your birthday?


  1. Have a timeline drawn on the blackboard. Write the student's answers on the timeline.


  1. Explain to students that they will be creating their own timeline, much like one you have already drawn on the board.


  1. Hand out pre-cut strips of paper for the students and a short list of 3-5 events for them to include on their timeline. Older students may want to make up a list of their own events (moving to a new house, birth of a sibling, family vacation).


Ask students to correctly place the following events on their timeline:


      Winter break

      My birthdate

      My first day of school

      Summer vacation




      Write three questions on the board, reinforcing the opening activity (when was the first day of school, when is your birthday?)

      Place students with a partner and allow them to answer the questions together using their timelines. Instruct them to switch timelines and answer the questions following their partner's timeline.




      Students can display their timelines around the classroom, on the walls or on a bulletin board.


      Have them view their classmates timeline, and see if there are any similarities with their own timelines.



At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:


      Answer questions about events on their timelines

      Correctly place events on their timelines

      Compare and contrast their timelines with a classmates





This lesson correlates to the following Arizona Social Studies Standards:


Students analyze the human experience through time, recognize the relationships of events and people, and interpret significant patterns, themes, ideas, beliefs, and turning points in Arizona, American, and world history.

1SS-F1. Demonstrate the ability to place events in chronological sequence, with emphasis on :

(Note: Historical research and analytical skills are to be learned and applied to the content standards for grades 1-3.)

PO 1. using a timeline to place in order important events in a students life

PO 2. recognizing a sequence of events