George Washington Timeline Lesson Plan February 05 2010

[caption id="attachment_4693" align="alignleft" width="192" caption="Photo by Paul Keleher"][/caption]George Washington is a fascinating character in American history. There are many resources with facts about our first president, but here's a history lesson plan that puts those facts - and your students - to work!

Constructing the Timeline

Timelines are valuable tools in the classroom when teaching social studies. They help students process information, practice sequencing, and observe patterns. Plus, they're more hands-on and fun to do!

First, there are a couple of important decisions to make. Timelines can be constructed with a whole group, within small groups or partners, or individually. Personally, I like partners - they're easier to manage but still better than working alone on this particular project. Additionally, choose what kind of timeline you want your kids to complete. I like to make mine as hands-on as possible, with the greatest potential for presentation and display.

Types of Timelines

Here I'll work from smallest to largest.

The Poster is simply an 11" x 17" sheet of paper for partners to work on. Draw a line horizontally in the center and place information chronologically along the line. This one is simple and better for older kids since the space to work in is relatively small.

The Butcher Paper Poster is a large sheet of Butcher Paper in a lighter color to make any writing easier to see. The Butcher Paper Poster is my favorite because there is so much space, so there's more potential for creativity. Kids can construct their timelines vertically or horizontally, plugging in dates and events along with sketches or pictures of the events. I have students use bright colors to decorate, and encourage artwork along with good organization of the timeline material. Usually kids enjoy sharing these poster with their classmates, and we post them around the room during our study of George Washington.

The Wire or String Timeline requires more materials, but it can be really fun to create. Each partner group gets a loooonnnggg piece of stiff wire or string along with several index cards and clothespins or similar clips. The wire or string itself is the timeline. Students write important information along with dates and clip them to the wire or string in the appropriate order. If more than one event happens in the same year, for example, students can attach these event cards vertically using some of the string. Sketches or printouts of pictures can also be included in this type of timeline.

Facts About George Washington

There are a few places here at Teaching Resource Center where you can provide dates and facts for your students to work with. Two of these resources are biographies specially written for younger students - the first is George Washington  (Welcome Books) and the second is George Washington (Rookie Biographies). These would be great books for kids to use for building research skills.

Another great place to find facts is the Facts for Timeline of George Washington's Life sheet I created. The facts could be cut up and rearranged so that kids have to put them in order for their timelines, and research can focus on drawing or finding appropriate pictures or sketches for the facts. For your information, here is a Timeline of George Washington's Life to use an an answer key of sorts.

Take A Look

Once students have their George Washington Timelines completed, set aside a block of time to have students share and compare. Are the dates in the correct order? Are they ascending or descending? Do the facts match up with the dates correctly?

As partner groups share, I like to use a sheet of chart paper to keep track of student responses. One category is Observations, particularly about Washington's life and character. What do students think of George Washington? What kind of person was he? Do they think all of the information is accurate?

The second category is Patterns. As students take a step back and look at the different timelines, what patterns emerge? What do they notice?  And the last category is Questions. Thinking about their observations, the facts and patterns, what questions do students now have about George Washington?

This is a great way to extend learning and build research skills. How can your students find answers to their questions? Where might they look for more information? If they do internet or encyclopedic research, what would be appropriate search terms for them to use?

Having your students construct a Timeline of George Washington's life is a great way to celebrate President's Day, build sequencing and research skills, and allow students to be creative in their expression. What a great way to process information about a pivotal character in American history!