Teaching History using Timelines and other Tools

Teaching history can be a fun but challenging topic. Many of my students do not understand the concept of the past. The dates really do not offer a lot of understanding either. So while working on teaching some of my social studies standards, students use a variety of tools. Students work on vocabulary words. Timelines are used. Short bibliographies are also introduced. During this specific lesson, one of the vocabulary words was ‘invention.’

To assist in teaching this concept, we looked at specific inventions after the Civil War. Students were given different items to research and find the date the items were created. This was completed through a simple internet search. Using the information, a timeline was drawn on the board. Each item was listed along with the year of invention, plus a picture of the item was added to assist students that are nonreaders. Next, the concept of a timeline was taken a step farther. Students created a timeline on themselves. This timeline was from birth to now. (I forgot to take pictures of these timelines.) Students were able to see their growth as the years progressed.

The timeline showed a continuation and how new things occurred or were invented This was similar to how the students changed and new things happened in their personal timeline as well. Time moves was the concept. The visuals worked in assisting my students in understanding the progression of time and how the dates represented time moving.


It is important to understand the changes in American history over time. It is also important to understand those that participated in making these changes, with their inventions. Another part of this lesson was on short bibliographies. The next section of the lesson covered the concept of inventors after the Civil War. George Washington Carver was introduced. Students were able to read a short informational on him and answer questions. The questions were easily understood and picture cues were included.

The Explore American History books are great aids in teaching some of these concepts. It is laid out easily for the students with extension activities for the teachers. Explore American History is from the Attainment company. What do you use to teach history? Let us know!