What is Chronological Order? - Definition & Example

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  • 0:03 Everything Has a Place
  • 0:35 What Is Chronological Order?
  • 1:29 How to Use Chronological Order
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Shannon Orr
Expert Contributor
Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Why is it important to explain information in a particular order? This lesson defines and explains the importance of using and teaching chronological order.

Everything Has a Place

Imagine sitting in a workshop that is designed to help teachers organize their school year. If the presenter starts off speaking about what to expect during the middle of the year, then transitions to the beginning of the year, jumps to the end of the year, and finally ends with the first day of school, most participants would leave confused and frustrated. Teaching and explaining events and lessons should follow a beginning, middle, and end flow so that those who are learning the skill can build upon the information they've been taught.

What Is Chronological Order?

Chronological order is listing, describing, or discussing when events happened as they relate to time. Basically, it is like looking at a timeline to view what occurred first and what happened after that. For example, if teachers wanted their students to describe their first day of school, the expectation would be for students to start with waking up that morning and getting prepared. If students start from the moment they walked into the school, valuable information has been skipped and could cause the listener to feel confused due to lack of information.

Helping students understand what chronological order is and how to properly apply the skill will be beneficial to students ranging from kindergarten all the way up to those who are on a collegiate path. The idea may seem basic, but lacking the skill of chronological order can cause students to struggle academically and not have a firm educational foundation.

When and How to Use Chronological Order

When most people think about using chronological order, history or social studies immediately pop into their mind. Explaining that this event happened first, which led to the next event, and so on, helps students remember specific details and build upon what they are being taught. Students understand why a particular war was necessary because they have the prior knowledge regarding events that led up to the war. Although chronological order is useful in history, the concept is beneficial for every subject that teachers may teach and students may learn.

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Additional Activities

Chronological Order Writing Assignment

In this activity, students will review the importance of chronological order to the process of learning by creating scenarios that are out of chronological order.


Attempt the brief experiments related to chronological order in different educational scenarios to experience the importance of chronological order to understanding.

English/History/Social Studies Concepts

  • Consider a story you know or an event in history.
  • Write a bullet point list of the chronological order of events related to your chosen topic.
  • Now, re-write the event in a different order.

Analysis Questions

  • How did it turn out?
  • Did the event make sense out of order?
  • Is it possible to create a story out of chronological order that does make sense?
    • Are flashbacks in literature an example of non-chronological events that do make sense in a story?
  • Is it easiest to learn/remember events out of order or in chronological order?

Math Concepts

  • Write a math word problem dealing with time. Make sure it is in chronological order.
  • Solve the problem (or ask someone else to solve the problem if possible).
  • Now, write a time related math word problem out of chronological order.
  • Solve the problem (or ask someone else to solve the problem if possible).

Analysis Questions

  • Was it easier to solve the problem when it was written in chronological order?
    • Why or why not?
  • Which did you prefer?
    • Why?
  • Do you feel that chronological order within time related word problems assists students with understanding, thus with completing the problems?

Science Concepts

  • Read through the scientific method.
  • Would it be possible to conduct an experiment out of order?
    • What might the consequences be if a person were to try to do research out of chronological order?

Analysis Questions

  • Did it work?
  • Why is chronological order so important for experimentation?
  • Is there ever a time when order does not matter in science related fields?
    • If so, what is it?

Reflection Question

  • Reflect on all of these mini-activities and how chronological order was important in each subject.
  • As a teacher, how important is it to incorporate chronological order into the presentation of new ideas to students?
    • Does chronological order assist in knowledge acquisition?
      • Why do you believe that?

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