Lesson plan

Timeline of Our Lives

By combining world and personal events, students will understand how their lives fir together with major events. Your kids will love learning all kinds of new facts about themselves and seeing their history on display.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to place the important events of their life and the world around them in the order in which they occurred.

(5 minutes)
  • Call students together.
  • Ask students to think about their birth dates, but not to say anything.
  • Inform students that as a class, without talking, mouthing, or writing anything down, they need to organize themselves by birth date.
  • Once students believe they have successfully done this, have the students go down the row and say their birth dates.
  • Allow them to reorder themselves. This time, talking is allowed.
  • Once they've gotten into the correct order, congratulate them and inform them that they have just put themselves in chronological order by birth date.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that the day they were born is only one of many milestones that they have gone through in their life. Explain that a milestone is anything that marks a significant change in life or development.
  • Have students list out a variety of milestones they have gone through. For example, students may say when they lost their first tooth, said their first word, when their parents got divorced, or when a pet died.
  • After students have listed out some milestones, explain that the world has milestones, too. Help students think about things like presidential elections, droughts, hurricanes, forest fires, etc.
  • Explain to students that sometimes people, want to see quickly how events are related chronologically. Ask students to think about some ways that people could easily do this. (A student should suggest a timeline. If not, guide students to this concept.)
  • Tell students that today, they will be making a timeline that shows many milestones in their personal lives alongside important events that have occurred in the world. This will allow them to quickly compare when these events occurred.
(5 minutes)
  • Pass out long pieces of paper for each student.
  • Demonstrate to students how to draw a straight horizontal line for the timeline. Show students that on the left side of the line, they should write their birth date. On the other side, they should write their most recent milestone. In between, they should leave plenty of space for personal and world events.
  • Show students how to make a list of personal milestones and their associated dates.
  • Then, demonstrate how to make a list of world events and their associated dates.
  • Tell students that they will need to research their own world events for their timeline, but include some presidential elections or natural disasters on the sample list and timeline to give students an idea of what the project will look like when it is finished.
  • Show students how to use the dates on both lists to figure out how to place things on the timeline.
  • Ask if students have any questions before they start working on their timelines. Encourage students to add pictures and decorations to their timelines.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students begin researching events that have happened in the world during their lifetime. They can also list any milestones in their life that they remember. (It is usually best to allow students to take this project home for a night or two, so that others who remember their milestones can help. Additionally, students can incorporate pictures or artifacts they have at home.
  • Enrichment: Encourage advanced students to each compare their timeline with another student’s timeline as an extra exercise. Students can compare and contrast personal milestones from each. They can also examine where the world events mentioned by their peer would fall on their timeline.
  • Support: Allow struggling students to work in pairs or small groups to scaffold this activity. Students may also benefit from color coding their timelines to help keep clear world and personal milestones. Students who have a hard time writing could be allowed to use pictures in place of words.
(5 minutes)
  • Students can be assessed based on the timeline they present to the class. The student’s final timeline should include both personal and world milestones. It should also be in chronological order.
  • For homework, students can be assigned to create a timeline for a parent or other special figure’s life. Students should demonstrate that they are able to successfully incorporate personal and world milestones in chronological order.
(10 minutes)
  • Call students together. Have each student share her timeline.
  • After students are done, collect the timelines to display around the room.
  • Encourage students to continue adding to their timeline in the future.

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