Time Line of History

Subject Areas:
Art, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies

The student will:

Three one-hour class periods

Bulletin board paper
Metric rulers and meter sticks
Thin black markers
Prehistory posters from Division of Archaeology (1-225-342-8170)
Reference materials: encyclopedias, time line books, computer software, etc.

Must Know Info:

The earthworks at Poverty Point were built around 1500 B.C. Creating a time line of history will help students recognize the age of the Poverty Point earthworks and become aware of the other world history events occurring either before, during, or after Poverty Point was constructed. The Bering Strait land bridge was probably used by people to cross into North America around 30,000 B.C. to 12,000 B.C. Your time line could begin at this date or around 10,000 B.C., by which time Indians were in Louisiana. As students add events to the time line, they will notice that few events are noted during prehistory. Remind them that history begins when people have a written account of events.

The Division of Archaeology distributes a free set of prehistory posters which you can obtain for your classroom. These posters are excellent sources of information about the Paleo-Indian, Meso-Indian, Poverty Point, Early Neo-Indian, and Late Neo-Indian eras in Louisiana. The posters have illustrations of the artifacts, foods, and tools from each era. You will probably want to include information from these posters on your time line so that students will be aware of the Native Americans who lived in Louisiana both before and after the Poverty Point people. The prehistory posters could be hung next to the appropriate sections of the finished time line.

The Latin term "Anno Domini" means "in the year of our Lord." It does not mean after death, as many students believe. Introduce the term C.E. This stands for "common era" and is being used more frequently. Explain that our culture uses this system of dating, but that other cultures mark time by different calendars. Students may be interested in researching the Islamic, Hebrew, or other calendars and adding these comparisons to the time line.


1. Before class, cut 12 sections of bulletin board paper with a length of 1.25 meters and a height of 40 centimeters. Each section will represent 1,000 years on the time line. This scale will result in a 12-meter time line if you begin your time line when Native Americans first entered Louisiana.

2. Introduce the concept of a time line and instruct students on the method of numbering before and after the zero on the time line. Review the terms B.C., A.D., and C.E. Demonstrate ways of determining the amount of time between events on a time line by using arithmetic or by counting the years on the time line. It is important that students understand how to read a time line, especially when figuring out the amount of time between events in B.C. and A.D. Practice computing the amount of time between two B.C. events or two A.D. events by subtracting. Show student that they must add to find the amount of time between a B.C. event and an A.D. one.

3. Tell students that they will work together to construct a time line of history and illustrate it with pictures of events which have occurred throughout time. If research materials are limited, some students may work on marking the time line while others use the computer and/or reference materials.

4. Assign two or three students to each section of the time line and tell them which thousand year period to construct. For example, one group may be responsible for 2000 B.C. to 1000 B.C. Another group will have from zero to A.D. 1000.

5. Students will measure and draw a straight line 10 centimeters from the bottom edge of the paper. Next, students will measure and mark 100 centimeters on the time line. Every multiple of 10 centimeters should be drawn taller to help with counting. For example, the 10, 20, 30, etc. centimeter marks would be taller than the marks in between. After students have marked 100 centimeters, or one meter, they will have enough marks to represent 1,000 years on the time line.

6. Students should label their large marks on the time line. Each 10 centimeter distance will equal 100 years. Caution students who are working on the B.C. sections of the time line to be careful when dating their time line. Of course, the B.C. sections are numbered with the larger numbers to the left, but this may be unusual for many students.

7. When all sections of the time line have been completed, overlap the sections in order and glue them together.

8. Students will need to conduct research in various sources to find events to illustrate and place on the time line. Computer references, time table books, and history books are excellent. Each student should find one event to illustrate and place on the time line. The following events are examples of fun ones to use:

9. Be sure to include the following mound building dates:

10. Make up time line math problems which correlate with the events. Either present these orally to the class or make up individual worksheets. This will assist you in evaluating whether the students understand the concepts presented. Some examples follow:

11. Leave your time line up and gradually add to it as you study additional cultures.