A Living Timeline

Mathematics and Art Activity

Set aside a day for your class to celebrate your town's history. To mark the day, students will create a living timeline that will narrate the most important events.



  1. Gather a list of dates of interesting or significant events in the history of your community (its founding; establishment of the first school, house of worship, library, store, theater, or factory; a battle; an act of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, or flood).

  2. With students, choose a several of these events to become part of a living timeline. Use pieces of drawing paper, taped together, to construct a timeline around the room. Mark off time intervals and enter the events where they belong. Tape or tack the timeline onto the walls.

  3. Have individual students take on the role of a townsperson who lived at the time of each event. Each narrator should be prepared to introduce him- or herself as a real or imaginary person and tell something about the event, using reference materials for content. For example, under 1865 a girl might step forward and say: "I am Deloris Netzband. I helped found the Bethel Baptist Church, which opened its doors this year. Thirty families attended the first service, led by the Reverend Marcus Johnson."

  4. On town history day, have students locate their places on the timeline and present their stories.


If you can, have students wear authentic headgear and/or costumes. Invite other classes to listen to their town's/city's history narrated.

Students can supplement the timeline by researching and drawing replicas of the American flag for each date represented. Add the flags where they belong. You might want to use the series of flags and a map to point out when various states joined the union.

To show how other things have changed, some students could research modes of dress that might have been in use on each date. Have them make drawings of certain pieces of clothing or fashions and add them to the timeline.

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