Digital Skills: Developing Online Assessment Skills in Everyday Classroom Activities Western Reserve Public Media
Creating Timelines

Note: Students should understand differences between primary and secondary resources prior to this project. 
This lesson can be adapted to the primary sources you would like your students to explore.

I can:

I can create a timeline to show the order of significant events in Ohio and the United States.

I can use primary sources to help me understand historical events.

Tech Skills:
  • Drag and Drop

  • Type

  • Text Editing

Materials and Resources:
  • Projector and computer with internet access (teacher)

  • Timeline Example  
    (there is a drop down with a choice of several timelines. For purposes of this lesson pick one that most closely relates to what you will be teaching)  

  • Printed/hard copies of the timeline that will be reviewed in class

  • Printed/hard copies of several of the timelines for homework for those who may not have accessibility to tech/internet/printer at home.

  • Images saved on computer to use for timeline demonstration.

Grade Level:
  • 4th Grade

Subject Area:
  • Social Studies


Activity 1

  1. Pass out timeline worksheet to students

  2. Project the timeline from Timeline from Common Core Sheets website

  3. Ask students what they notice about the timeline

    Parts of the timeline:

    title (general v. specific)

    evenly spaced intervals

    length of intervals

    span of the timeline 

  4. Complete worksheet together.

  5. Assign another timeline for homework.


Activity 2

  1. Review answers to the previous night’s homework, answering questions as you go.

  2. Select another timeline from Common Core Sheets website complete together.

  3. Introduce timeline assignment. Students will create a timeline based on the life and accomplishments of “___________________”  (this will depend on where and how you are integrating this lesson.

  4. Research should be from primary sources. (review differences between primary and secondary resources).

  5. Examples of primary resources include birth certificate, grade card, photographs, patents, and awards and recognition granted.

  6. Allow students to examine sources and begin answering questions.


Activity 3

  1. Tell students they will be using an interactive timeline to create a timeline.

  2. Begin by showing the PowerPoint title, “Timelines Tell a Story” found at The PowerPoint can be edited to suit your needs. You can change slides to match requirements you would like met for the timeline project.

  3. Ask students to select a minimum of 5 events uncovered while researching primary sources.

  4. Open the free interactive timeline by at  Show students how to use the interactive by plotting a few major events from our own life. You will probably want to select the date option to format your timeline. Demonstrate setting up the timeline with a title and adding events. You can create evenly spaced intervals first if you want your students to include them. Once events are created, they can be moved around on the timeline.

  5. When finished, students print a copy of their timeline and also submit a copy electronically to the teacher possible.

  6. Students take turns sharing the timelines. Classmates are given the opportunity to ask questions and make comparisons.


Historical Thinking and Skills: The order of significant events in Ohio and the United States can be shown on a timeline.

Supplementary Resources:

DocsTeach (Good resource for primary source documents)

Ohio as America (requires login)


Follow Us on Facebook Facebook | Twitter Twitter | YouTube YouTube | E-Newsletters E-Newsletters | | Digital Skills Credits | Digital Skills Home | Be More PBS

Western Reserve Public Media® • P.O. Box 5191; 1750 Campus Center Drive; Kent, OH 44240-5191 • 330-677-4549 or 1-800-554-4549

Copyright©Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.