Timeline Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Boost your instruction on timelines with a demonstration and a personalized in-class activity. Take it a step further with optional extensions and related lessons.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • interpret timelines
  • relate information on a timeline to historical events
  • develop a timeline


30 minutes to 1 hour


  • White board or chalk board
  • Dry erase markers or chalk
  • Large heavyweight plain paper or poster board
  • An assortment of colored markers
  • Tablets, computers, or projector to access lesson

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.3: Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5: Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).

Key Vocabulary

  • Chronological order
  • Timeline


  • Have students read the Studying the Past and Step 1: Purpose sections of the text lesson How to Make a Timeline.
  • Using the white or chalk board and dry erase markers or chalk, draw a horizontal line on the board.
  • Next, tell the students that the purpose of the timeline you will be creating is to show the chronological order of the daily school schedule.
  • Title the timeline accordingly and establish the time period covered (e.g. the 8-hour school day).
  • Now ask students to read the rest of the text lesson.
  • Explain that you will be dividing your timeline according to class periods and do so on the board to demonstrate how the information is added to build a timeline.
  • Once the demonstration timeline is filled, have the students complete the quiz that is associated with the text lesson.
  • Using the paper and markers, ask students to create personal timelines covering their life events from the past year.


  • Select important events throughout history and ask students to conduct research to create related timelines.
  • Have students to create timelines to reflect their physical milestones thus far (e.g. rolled over, sat up, walked, lost first tooth, etc.).

Related Lessons

Geologic Time Scale: Major Eons, Eras, Periods and Epochs

Historical Change: Causes and Effects

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