American Revolution Timeline: Interactive Tool and Lesson Ideas

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In these lesson ideas which are adaptable for grades 3-12, students use a free interactive American Revolution timeline to explore the sequence of events in the American Revolution. The Revolutionary War comes alive as students see photos of artifacts, watch related videos/podcasts, and more.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand and explain key events of the American Revolution.
  2. Explore the sequence of events in the American Revolution and relationships between events.

Materials:

  • Computers with internet access

Preparation:

The lesson ideas below utilize a beautiful digital timeline for the Revolutionary War created by The Museum of the American Revolution. It's easy to use: simply swipe to move through the timeline and select different objects along the timeline to learn more about their significance. Within each object screen, students can use a zoom option to see the details of the artifact. Click to read the text or, on many objects, view a short video (podcast.)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Here are some ways you can incorporate the American Revolution interactive timeline into your social studies instruction:

    • Use the timeline to provide students with an overview of the American Revolution at the beginning of your unit. Encourage students to explore the timeline with a partner and talk about key themes they notice. Students can also take notes on dates or events that they believe to be particularly important to the American Revolution.
    • Create a scavenger hunt around the timeline. List important information about the American Revolution that you want students to learn, and encourage them to use the timeline to find the answers. You can ask students to discover when certain events occurred or have them place several key events in sequence. Afterwards, have students create their own scavenger hunts and challenge their classmates to locate specific information on the timeline.
    • Facilitate a discussion on cause and effect. Choose two events from the timeline and challenge students to discover their connection. Why did certain events occur after other events? How might the American Revolution have unfolded differently if events were in a different order? You may want to have students reflect on this in writing. Since the timeline stretches until 2009, it's a good tool for helping students understand the connection between the distant past and more recent events, including wars that followed the American Revolution.
    • Revisit the timeline throughout your unit.As students learn about each aspect of the Revolutionary War, have them find the events on the timeline and watch any related podcasts that are embedded in the timeline. The timeline can serve as a visual reminder of what students have already learned and what events they will be learning about next.
    • Have students create their own timelines. They can work cooperatively to decide on the most important events of the Revolutionary War and create a paper-based or digital timeline. Tiki-Toki is a great online tool for creating timelines. If you prefer for students to use mobile devices when creating their timelines, try Time Toast.
    • Use the timeline at the end of your unit to review what students have learned. It can be difficult for students to recall everything they've learned during a lengthy unit of students, and the timeline is a great resource for helping students see the big picture of how the war unfolded and its aftermath.
    • Show students the timeline as inspiration for a culminating activity. Invite students create a class timeline, with each person (or pair of students) researching an aspect of the war in-depth. Have each student create an image and a caption for their image, and then upload all the images to a tool that creates photo slideshows, such as Picasa. Play the slideshow for the class and embed it in a class blog or website for others to view, as well.