Timeline of Mine

By Leslie Lami-Reed, January 15, 2007

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

Four 50 minute class periods


In social studies, the 5th and 6th graders learn about the use of timelines to organize historic events. In art class, the students will produce a timeline of their life highlighting important events in their history. The students will bring in photos and personal items which they will use to illustrate important events in a timeline format. They will design and build a self-standing album, attaching various 2-D and 3-D objects, to create an expressive journal illustrating the important events and objects in their life.

National Standards


Students will:
  • create a 3-D self-standing album containing an accurate timeline of his or her life
  • select personal items to attach to the timeline, such as photographs, awards, jewelry, clippings, etc. that have relevance or importance to the student
  • construct and display the albums in the standing format so they can be viewed from both sides
  • create the journals as a keepsake for themselves and their family


Various timelines in different formats will be introduced to the students


  • poster board
  • magazines
  • letter stamps
  • stamp pads
  • wallpaper sample books
  • fabric
  • pens
  • markers
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • glue sticks and hot glue gun
  • acid free tapes and glue
  • ribbon


Timeline-linear representation of important events in the order in which they occurred Memorabilia-objects valued for their connection with historical events, mementos; souvenirs


CLASS 1 In small groups, have the students discuss what events have been important in their lives and how these events have shaped them. They should begin with their birth and continue through current day. As students discuss, have them make a list of the events that have made them “who they are.” The list can include birthdays, moving, changing schools, the birth of a sibling, new pets, travel, vacation, sports, musical training, etc. It can also include divorce, the death of a friend or relative, or other important events. Through the small group discussions, the students will come away with an idea of what makes them unique, as well as understanding the things that they have in common with others. The students should then draft a timeline of the years of their life, adding the important events to the timeline. Encourage the students to take the timeline “draft” home to share with their family for accuracy. They should begin a search for “memorabilia”—photos, papers, trinkets, tickets, programs, etc. that will illustrate these important events. Give each student a paper sack to help them organize and collect. They can store the items at school and the sack can be taken home and returned. CLASS 2 and 3 Over a period of a week, students will collect “memorabilia” to attach to their timeline. Have students begin the construction of their “timeline journal.” Remind them of the “linear” quality of a timeline. Show them the available materials and make sure they are aware of the following criteria: 1. The “journal” should be linear in quality (in that a continuous line could be drawn from beginning to end, the line need not be straight). 2. The “journal” should stand on its own for display purposes. 3. The “journal” should be designed so that it can hold “memorabilia” in the designated locations on the timeline. 4. The “journal” should be constructed in a way that is strong, visually attractive, easy to read, and meets the criteria and the purpose of a timeline. Students will continue to work on the timeline journal for two class periods (of however much time the teacher sees fit). They will:
  • They will construct the journal using paper, tag board, cardboard, and other materials available, keeping the criteria in mind.
  • When students are satisfied with the “form” of their journal, they will sketch their timeline in pencil through the journal.
  • In pencil, they will write in the year markings and illustrate where the photos and memorabilia will be attached.
  • When students are satisfied with their timeline, they should write over the pencil using writing materials: pen, markers, Sharpie, colored pencils, etc.
  • Students will attach memorabilia using glue (or special mounting tape from the scrapbook store).
  • Students will add stamps, images, pictures, or other found printed material to their journal to give it a collage effect.
CLASS 4 Students should finish the timeline journal and complete a written self evaluation. The self evaluation will be a major part of the assessment.


Student self-evaluation 1. Did you include significant events in your timeline? How many? 2. Which event on your timeline is the most significant to you? 3. Did your family help you when you were planning your timeline? How? 4. Is your journal linear in quality? Is your line straight, curvy, zigzag? 5. How did you design your journal to stand up? 6. Is there room for your memorabilia? How did you attach it? 7. Would you construct your journal differently to make it sturdier? 8. How did you make it clear and easy to read? 9. Can a visitor follow the timeline from beginning to end? Who did you ask to do this? 10. Describe your timeline journal in four sentences. What makes it unique? Teacher Assessment Teachers will grade on whether or not the individual student met the above stated (4) criteria. Also it will be noted whether the student collected appropriate memorabilia and what effort went into this. Students will receive a separate grade for the effort they put into completing their self-evaluation.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students will place their finished timeline journals on display in the “gallery” or library. Encourage them to view others' work and ask questions of the artists. Families will be invited to view the journals during parent-teacher conferences. Younger students will view the finished projects and begin to formulate ideas for their own timelines. Timelines can be constructed for other events.

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