Teaching and Learning the Virginia K-3 History and Social Sciences Standards of Learning



1.1 The student will interpret information presented in picture timelines to show sequence of events and will distinguish among past, present, and future.


  • Introduce the term change and discuss the meaning as something that happens to make things different. Ask students for examples of ways or reasons their families may have changed recently, such as the birth of new sibling or a move to new home.
  • Have students bring in baby pictures and pictures of when they were young. Students will describe the changes that they recognize in themselves compared to their pictures.
  • Teachers and/or school workers could share pictures of themselves as children. A bulletin board or center could be established to display the pictures. Students could be asked to guess who is in each picture and/or write about the changes they can see in the pictures from the past to the present.
  • Read selected stories and books where examples of change are demonstrated or described. After reading these selections, have students describe the changes they observed in characters and/or activities in the books and stories and perhaps describe why the changes occurred.
  • Introduce the term time line. Discuss how it is like a number line used in math and it shows sequence and the order that events occur.
    -Display, demonstrate, and discuss how various examples of time lines can be used and what activities or events they can represent. The teacher can bring in studies of famous Americans (correlate with History and Social Science SOL 1.2 and 1.3) and display and discuss time lines of the lives of various American leaders.
    -As a class, create a time line of the school day, resource classes for the week, or a sequence of activities with which students are readily familiar.
  • As a home or classroom project, over several days, students could create a time line of their lives.
    -The time line would be divided in to six or seven equal parts (depending on the student’s age) with each section representing a year of a student’s life.
    -Students could use pictures, photographs, or illustrations to describe a major event or activity that occurred in that year.
    -The time lines should show sequence and changes over time and students should be able to share or explain the parts of their time line.
  • Build background knowledge about the concept of community (correlate with History and Social Science SOL 1.12). Read selected books that demonstrate the modern community and various aspects of life in the present time. Engage students in discussions about the school community and/or their neighborhood communities.
  • Begin a KWL chart about communities in the past. Ask students what they already know about life in the past (no electricity, no cars, etc.). A collection of graphic organizers from the following Web site could be used in the unit: http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer.
  • Read selected books and stories where communities in the past are highlighted. Discuss various features, such as entertainment, shopping, social activities, jobs, etc.
  • Lead students in the understanding of some general differences, to include:
    -In the past, communities were smaller than today and there were fewer people.
    -In the present, communities are larger than in past and there are more people.         
    -In the future, communities might be larger and include online communities.
  • Review the concept or term change. Discuss how communities have changed since the past. List some of the major changes that have occurred. As a class, explore Web sites that illustrate changes over time in time line form. Discuss what is seen and learned from the time lines.
  • Create a chart comparing communities of the past, present, and future.
  • Ask students what the term family means. Discuss how a family is a group of people who love and care for one another. In the present day it can mean people who live together in a house or people who are related to one another, and a family can take many forms.
  • Have students draw a picture to illustrate their family. They can draw or write about things their family does together. Share with the class and discuss commonalities and differences in families and family activities and/or traditions.
  • Briefly review what was discovered and learned in the previous session about communities in the past. Ask students if they think families and family life were also different in the past or if they think they were much the same as in the present.
  • Read selected books and stories where families in the past and future are highlighted. Discuss various aspects of family life. Lead students in the understanding of some general differences, to include:
    -the past = handmade clothes, homemade games, family vegetable gardens, children doing chores to help the family, etc.
    -the present = store-bought clothes, electronic games, microwave food, both parents working, etc.
    –the future = custom clothes online and virtual games
  • Discuss what families in the past may have done for entertainment or in the evenings after dinner and chores (since televisions, computer games, movie theaters, etc. were not available). Create some games and activities from the past.
    -Make paper dolls from poster paper and create paper outfits.
    -Create toy blocks by overlapping 2 milk cartons (pint size) to create a cube. Cover with brown grocery bags to simulate wood.
    -Make a simple game board to play.
  • Correlate recess activities or work with the physical education teacher to create a “Game Day from the Past.” Students should discover that children in the past played games but had fewer toys than children today. The toys they did have were typically homemade. There are games from the past that are similar or the same as games played today. Hoop-and-hide was similar to hide-and-seek and Battledore and Shuttlecock is like our badminton today. Students may be familiar with blindman’s bluff and leapfrog today, which were also played during colonial times. The PE teacher may also have resources available to locate other games and activities from the past, which could be shared with students.
  • Introduce background knowledge by making a graph of the ways students get to school (school bus, van, car, bike, walk, etc.). Students could also list the types of transportation used by family members.
  • Read stories or books that highlight transportation in the present and discuss why these are used. Students could use magazines and/or catalogs to make a transportation collage.
  • Begin to discuss examples of transportation in the past. The teacher can review Christopher Columbus (SOL 1.2 and 1.3) and remind students of his means of travel to the new world (i.e. wind-powered ships) or review other famous Americans of the past and discuss how they might have traveled.
  • Read stories or books which highlight transportation from the past and discuss why they may have been used. Lead students in the understanding of some general concepts, to include:
    -In the past, transportation typically may have been walking, riding horses, or riding in wagons.
    -In the present, transportation includes riding in cars, airplanes, trains, and space shuttles.
    -In the future transportation might include electric and solar cars
  • Create a Venn diagram to compare modes of transportation in the past to means of traveling in the present.
  • Have students create a transportation time line.
  • Divide a simple time line into three equal parts: past, present, and future.
  • Have students illustrate one means of transportation for the past and the present and then predict or invent a means for travel in the future.
  • Have students write a sentence or two describing each part of their time line. They could also offer explanations for why each type of transportation was or is used in each time period.
  • Read books which highlight schools in the past. Show and share pictures of one-room school houses. As a class visit internet Web sites which highlight schools from the past. Discuss what differences are seen when compared to classrooms and schools today.
  • Hold an old-fashioned school day. Include some of these examples of activites and ideas:
    -Arrange desks in rows or just use chairs or benches in rows. Seat students with girls on one side of the room and boys on the other. Remind them that they must have permission from the teacher to leave seats, move around the room, and to speak.
    -Instead of paper, use slates and chalk. Or you can create quill pens by making ink wells out of milk cartons and using tempera paint and feathers for writing. Conduct penmanship lessons by giving students copies of alphabet sheets (you could use basic calligraphy) and pencils with no erasers or the quill pens. Have students copy the alphabet or “virtues” created by Benjamin Franklin (for example: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.)
    -Conduct a spelling bee and/or math recitation of basic facts.
    -Pass around reading books typical of those used in the past for students to recite from. Conduct lessons in the manner they may have been taught in the past.
    -Sing old-fashioned songs that would have been typical of schools and times of the past.
  • Have the students brainstorm a list of possible changes they think will come to schools of the future. What will the building look like? What will the classrooms look like? Will they actually come to school or will they go to virtual school where they interact with a class by using a computer?

A collection of graphic organizers can be used in lessons with students.

These Library of Congress sites explore America’s past.

A sample of a blank time line form can be found at this Web site.

At this site the teacher can create a computer-generated personal, printable time line by typing in their name, birthyear, and current year.

This site provides sample lesson ideas for teaching about life in the past.


Picture Time Lines/Sequencing/Past and Present

Kalman, Bobbie.
Pioneer Life from A to Z. No city: Bt Bound, 1999.
This book on life in pioneer days offers an introduction to various aspects of the pioneer lifestyle in North America including toys, clothing, and school.