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The Life and Times of…PDF document

Creating a Timeline to Understand the Historical Context of Past Individuals, Events, and Travels


Students need to develop an understanding of the connections between historical events and issues by placing people and events into their context of place and time. They need to demonstrate an understanding of the people and stories of Canada and their ways of life over time. How far back does Alberta history go? What was happening at different times? How were different people and events connected? What was going on around Alberta at the same time? What about Canada? The world?

Project Explanation

In this project, students will research and develop an individual, group, or whole class timeline that represents the key events in a historical figures lifetime. They may choose from a number of different representation formats in which to present their work. They may also choose from a number of different options to extend and enrich the timeline project.

Alberta Social Studies Curriculum Unit Connections

Grade Four - Alberta: The Land, Histories and Stories
4.2 The Stories, Histories and People of Alberta
4.3 Alberta: Celebrations and Challenges

Grade Five - Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories
5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada
5.3 Canada: Shaping an Identify

Grade Seven - Canada: Origins, Histories and Movement of People
7.1 Toward Confederation
7.2 Following Confederation: Canadian Expansions

Materials and Resources Needed


Students will create a timeline that represents the life, travels, and accomplishments of one of the "Uninvited Guest" Mavericks. Timelines are a visual, physical way to put the life of a historical figure into a viewpoint that students can understand. They can also be connected to other events going on at the time, whether in Alberta, Canada, or across the world. Adding these types of events will assist students to place their Mavericks into a specific historical context. The creation of a "Life and Times of…" timeline will serve as the starting point to learn all about this time in Alberta's history.

Introduce the project by examining and sharing the timeline on the Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta site. It will allow students to visualize what a timeline of their own will look like. After they have chosen a Maverick to represent, they will need to research the key events, activities, accomplishments, and travels of that person. They will need to record the date, the location, a short summary of that event and why they decided to include it in their timeline. In other words, why was that event significant?

After the research is completed, the teacher may choose how the timeline will be created or allow the students choice in how they represent their understanding. Possibilities include the following.

  • Fold normal paper into eight sections and record one event on each piece
  • Use long rolls of chart paper or newsprint
  • Use old computer printer paper that is attached end to end
  • Use a chalkboard or whiteboard
  • Use PowerPoint slides for each key event
  • Use Word (or a similar program) to draw and label the timeline
  • Use a string or rope all around the classroom or down a hall with dates at measured intervals. All students put up their timelines together as one. Each could use different colours of paper for their Maverick.

Using measurement and mathematical skills, students will have to determine a scale that is able to fit the needed years within the amount of space they have. They will place their events onto their timeline at the appropriate and exact place in time. During or after sharing of the student work, they should examine how the different key events from the Mavericks or Alberta history are connected. Were there any surprises that came out of seeing all the events together?

Assessment and Evaluation

  • Students and their teacher should develop their own rubric by identifying evaluation criteria for the project that will match their own learner outcomes. This allows students to understand the expectations for their work and to have input into the ongoing evaluation process.
  • Students may use the project rubric as a guide for writing a self-assessment of their project work. They will determine their level for each of the categories and use the criteria specified in their rubric to justify them.
  • After completing the project, students may talk or journal about what they felt they did very positively, what they had difficulty with, and how they would change how they would approach a similar project in the future.

Ideas for Enriching this Project

  • Students will write a poem about the Maverick or one of the events from the time line of their life. Connect all the writings to a group timeline to be displayed in the classroom or hallway.
  • Use PowerPoint to create individual slides for each entry on the timeline. Students can then present their timeline on a large screen and speak about why each event was chosen. They could also use PowerPoint to print out he slides for a physical timeline.
  • Students could keep adding to the timeline through the course of the year, adding events from their own lives, family history, current events, or other subjects they study.
  • Students can write poems about their Maverick or key events from their lifetime.
  • Students could create a newspaper that documents the key events of one Maverick's life or from a specific period in time.


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