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Timelines & Word Problems

Timelines & Word Problems

Grade 3 | Math


Students will create autobiographical time lines, noting important events in their lives. Using these timelines, students will create word problems for their classmates to solve. A lesson plan for grade 3 Mathematics

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to construct a time line of their own and use a previously constructed time line to solve word problems.

Teacher planning



Each student will need paper, pencil, and a ruler.

Each child will need the necessary data to complete their own timeline.

The teacher will need several examples of timelines, including one she has done herself.


Each child will need access to a computer and a printer.

Software: Timeliner 5.0 for Windows

Overhead projector

Transparencies of timelines


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The students should be able to compare and order numbers less than 10,000.

Students should be proficient at using Timeliner 5.0

Students should be knowledgeable about the passage of time, whether during a day, week, month, or year(s).

Activities: DAY 1

Using the overhead projector, the teacher will show the class an example of a timeline. Be sure to start with a simplified version of one. A good example to begin with is a schedule of the student’s day, since they are familiar with the activities.

Ask the children questions about the timeline and the sequence of events. (Examples: What happens before lunch? What do we do after specialist?) Additionally, question students about events in which there is not sufficient information to answer. (Example: What time is dinner?)

Continue to show the children examples of timelines and question them on the events that occurred and how the timeline is setup. Show examples of timelines which use various times – weekly timelines, monthly timelines, and yearly timelines.

At the end of the first day’s lesson, discuss what data the class would like to incorporate into their own timeline. Each student should write down the questions and return to school tomorrow with the data.


At the beginning of the second day, quickly review timelines by showing more examples and questioning students to be sure they understand the format of a timeline.

Model for the students how to construct a timeline.

Be sure each student has brought in the required data.

Using paper, pencil, and ruler, have the children construct their own timeline.

After editing the rough draft of the timeline, let the children create the timeline using Timeliner 5.0.

Publish the timeline.

Have the students share their timelines with the class. Each student should have at least one problem for the class to solve.


Informally, the students are assessed through a question and answer format. Using observations and ancedotal records is another way to determine if the child understands the topic of timelines. The final product is a third way to evaluate if the child understands the concept. The hard copy of their work is also a concrete way to show parents if their child has mastered this skill.

Supplemental information

The students enjoyed this activity. I learned a lot about my students and they found they had several things in common with one another that they did not realize before.


This project can easily be adapted for any area of the curriculum. The students can create a timeline for historical events, for sequencing events that occurred in a story, or for science processes. The hard copies of the student’s timelines make a neat idea for the end of the year activity or a gift to their parents.

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