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Parks Title

Lesson 2: Interactive Timeline

Upon completing the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explore the events and policies that occurred from 1852 to 1946.
  • Categorize these events under themes of economy, society, politics, culture, and environment.
  • Gain a broader perspective of what chronological events occurred from 1852 to 1946.

Time Required
One class period

Materials Required
Communities Chant with Social Studies Themes--Politics, Society, Economics, Culture, Environment
Color Coded Dates & Information from 1850-1965
Timeline Dates


  1. Read the Communities Poem to review themes and the events to be familiar with the context of the facts.
  2. Explain that history is often viewed through the lens of these themes: politics, society, culture, economics, and the environment.
  3. Create five charts on butcher paper that you can hang up, put on long tables, or even put on the floor: label the charts with the years. You can decide which theme/s you want to emphasize or if you want to show all 5 themes. The students will end up debating about which theme the event best fits under.
  4. Print out the dates and information sheets. Cut out the different pieces of information and paste them onto colored backgrounds, one color for each of the 20 years.
  5. Set up the long charts so students can easily see them and move around among them; four long tables set in a square. Look at the attached sheet to see the classroom set up.
  6. Begin with the major event, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Using the colored strips, walk the students through the different categories and relate them to each other. Talk about how the events were connected to themes: politics, economy, culture, environment, and society.
  7. Hand out colored dates/information strips to the students. Their task is to try to figure out where each strip goes. What theme does it fit under? Is it politics or economy? After they’ve placed one strip, they can come back for another one. Don’t tell them that the years are color-coded. How long does it take them to figure this out?
  8. Check their work. Debrief and discuss the key events. You can take this in a lot of directions—review information, emphasize the interconnection of the categories, relate readings to what is going on in a broader context, etc.

Extended Activity
Create a timeline with multiple themes for your community.

Create a timeline of your family, going back to your family's immigrants.