Earth History & Geologic Time Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

When was Earth created? Getting your students involved with activities will help them explore the topic in some fun ways. This lesson has activities to keep your students engaged as they learn about the history of Earth.

Earth History and Geologic Time

Can you believe that Earth was created approximately 4.5 billion years ago? Many things have gone on in Earth's history from how it all began to where it is today. Your students will deepen their understanding as they use the geologic time scale to help organize the major time periods of Earth according to life, climate, and composition.

Feel free to adapt any of the following activities to better suit the needs of your students. Let's dig in!

Activities for Earth History and Geologic Time

Life-Size Timeline

Students get to create a life-size timeline of Earth's history.


  • Paper rolls (or construction paper)
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Rulers
  • Reference on Geologic Time Scale (texts, notes)
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Option 1 - Technology
    • Computers with Internet access
    • Printer with ink and paper
  • Option 2 - Without technology
    • Draw pictures by hand


  • Students will work with a partner.
  • Excite students by having them imagine that a local museum would like to display a timeline of Earth's history. They need accurate details with visual appeal. Your students get to create their own timelines, one of which will be chosen for this imaginary museum!
  • Provide partners with time to research and then sketch their timeline. Students must include at least the following:
    • Each eon - Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic
    • Eons must be further broken down into eras, time periods, and epochs
    • Time labeled in millions of years ago (m.y.a.)
    • Detailed description of the ages within each epoch, noting life, climate, and geography
    • At least 4 pictures (could be dinosaur fossils, rocks, ancient tools, etc.)
  • Have students compile their information on a life-size timeline.
  • When finished, each pair will present their timeline highlighting sections that make it stand out among the rest.
  • Place all timelines around the room assigned with a specific letter or number. Each student will browse the timelines, choose their favorite, and record it on a sheet of paper.
  • Tally the votes to determine whose timeline will go in the imaginary museum!

Who's In Charge?

Students become the teacher as each group researches and presents information.


  • Option 1 - Technology
    • Computers with Internet, PowerPoint or Google Slides, and Microsoft Word
    • Screen with projector for presentations
  • Option 2 - No technology
    • Posters
    • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Reference on Earth History (texts, articles, notes)
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils


  • Students will work in groups of 2-3.
  • Explain to students that they get to take over the classroom! Maybe not a total take-over, but they get to teach their classmates all about a specific time period in Earth's history.
    • Decide on a specific topic ahead of time, noting specific time periods and/or ages.
    • Assign each group of students a specific topic or allow them to choose.
  • Have students work in groups to research information.
    • Name of specific period, age, etc.
    • Clear description of the life, geography (rocks, land, water), and climate
    • Interesting or unique facts
  • After students have compiled their information, they will work on a presentation. Explain that students can use technology, no technology, or a combination of both.
    • The presentations must include all of the important information about the topic in an engaging way. Make sure students have time to practice their presentations.
  • Assign dates for groups to present their information.

Time Traveler

This writing activity could be used as a review or a way to learn more about a certain time period.


  • Writing paper
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Resources on specific time periods (texts, articles, notes, Internet, if possible)

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