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Earth History Timeline Poster Assignment

5000 Years of Human History

As part of Kickstarter's Projects of Earth, I am printing an update of my bestselling Timeline of World History poster. This 24x36" wallchart captures all of human history (from 3000 BCE to present) on a single page. Major empires, kingdoms, and civilizations are shown in a side-by-side format so that the viewer can quickly see how different events in different places relate to one another.

There have been many other attempts to capture history in this way but most such charts tend to be very Eurocentric and do not incorporate the latest findings from archaeology and linguistic studies. In contrast, I have made a conscious effort to include civilizations from Africa, Asia, and the Pre-Columbian Americas that are often missing on other similar timelines and to use the latest research when showing connections between early civilizations.

As a whole, the chart works well both as a basic overview of world history and as a resource that can be referred to for context whenever you are studying a specific topic. For example, if you are reading a book that mentions the Han Empire in China, a quick glimpse of the chart will show you that it was flourishing at approximately the same time as the Roman Empire. Or you can quickly discover that Attila the Hun came before Genghis Khan and that the New Kingdom of Egypt lasted about twice as long as the entire history of the United States. And, in addition to showing famous people and important political events, the chart also mentions major climate changes and natural disasters.

The wallchart is standard US poster size (24x36") and will be printed on thick cardstock at a carbon-neutral facility using eco-friendly UV inks. At $22 CAD (about $17 USD), the price here on Kickstarter is cheaper than it is on Amazon and other sites. I'm also offering free shipping to those in US and Canada (Unfortunately, due to the length of the poster when rolled, shipping overseas is quite expensive and I therefore have to add a shipping cost of $17 USD for international orders -- however, please note that the shipping charge is the same for all reward levels so therefore it might be more cost-effective to choose to ship multiple posters as opposed to just one).

More from the UsefulCharts Collection

I have also designed other wallcharts, several of which were initially funded right here on Kickstarter. I have therefore included some higher reward levels so that you can mix and match and order various other charts at the same time (either multiples or separate titles). This will help cover the cost of future reprintings. Note: You will be given the opportunity to make your choices at the end of the campaign. 

Update (8/31/17): 11th poster added. All those who select (or have already selected) the full set reward level will automatically receive 11 posters, instead of 10. For all other reward levels, it will be one of the options that you can choose.

Risks and challenges

I have run 5 Kickstarter campaigns so far and all 5 have been successful. I design, sell, and ship posters full-time so am used to the challenges involved.

If any items arrive damaged or get lost in the mail, I will resend them free of charge.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Personal Timeline

Rebecca Teed & Carrie Wright


Earth & Environmental Sciences, Wright State University; Dept. of Geology & Physics, University of Southern Indiana

Author Profile


Students start this worksheet by listing the most important events in their own lives, plotting them on a timeline, and then doing the same with Earth history events. Usually, their personal timelines will resemble the Earth history, with most events clustered close to the present, and they need to explain why this clustering occurs.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



It could be used in a variety of introductory geoscience courses or with middle-school or high-school students. I have tested it in geoscience courses for pre-service teachers (junior and senior education majors).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students will need to be able to measure, and have a rough concept of proportionality.

How the activity is situated in the course

This project has been assigned as homework.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Review or learn about some of the major events in Earth history
Observe that the major events with which we are familiar and consider important are generally clustered close to the present
Learn that many of the older layers in the rock record are harder for us to retrieve or to understand than the newer ones

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Proportional reasoning
The use of analogy
Pattern-recognition (and explanation)

Other skills goals for this activity

Drawing timelines to scale

Description of the activity/assignment

For this homework assignment, students have to draw two scaled timelines. The first is a personal timeline. They need to come up with the events themselves, an easy task that will build confidence for student who are intimidated by science and math. Following guidelines, they decide on a scale, and draw a linear timeline on which they plot their chosen events. Most students will primarily include recent events. They are asked to identify and explain any patterns in their timeline. Students should note the clustering at the present, and describe the emphasis on the present as resulting from memory, relevance to future hopes and worries, etc.

The second timeline is more traditional. The students are given 16 Earth history events with dates and asked to draw another timeline, using the procedure from the personal timeline, but the line is already drawn for them. They will probably recognize most of the events on the list, and will be keeping them in order and spacing them out on the timeline. They are once again asked to identify and explain patterns and should recognize the emphasis on the present. This time, availability of fossils/rocks and relevance to current conditions and problems are good answers.

Determining whether students have met the goals

From an assessment perspective, the most important thing is for the students to notice the way that events cluster on both timelines, and to create parallel explanations for that clustering.

After the first few classes, the assignment was graded based on completeness, and adherence to directions (the introduction of grading increased the proportion of timelines actually drawn to scale).

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

A similar project, emphasizing different levels of scaling, is the Hierarchical Alignment of Timelines activity

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