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Great events

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By Kay Cliffordpart-time teacher, Ipswich

This interactive text allows children to sequence events from the past, present and future in a timeline and view a slide show explaining each event in more detail.

It will develop children’s understanding in both literacy and history. Some previous experience of timelines would be helpful.


Shared teaching and learning

Before using the resource

To revise the way timelines work, why not ask the children to sequence pictures of themselves, showing how they have changed? Alternatively, use some large hoops and dates. Place one hoop near your feet and explain that it represents ‘today’. Place another hoop a bit further away and explain that it represents ‘yesterday’, then another further away to represent ‘last week’. Keep placing hoops further and further away until eventually you may be outside in the playground with the 8th century. This will help the children to ‘see’ how far back in time you are going when using the on-screen resource.

More resources

Toys now and then Interactive resource inviting children to place ten toys on a timeline, ranging from Ancient Egyptian times to present day. Complete with information text slide show.

Speaking and listening

  • Ask the children to talk about great events that have happened in their lives so far – birthdays, birth of brother/sister, going to a wedding, etc. How long ago were these?
  • Recap any learning you’ve been doing about events from the past – eg, the Great Fire of London, Anglo-Saxons, medieval times. How many hundreds of years ago did these things take place? Place them on your hoop timeline. Make comparisons between then and now.
  • Now go to the timeline activity in the on-screen resource. Look at the pictures. What events do the children think are being shown in each picture?
  • Ask pairs to choose one event and write a question about it that they would like answered.
  • Can they predict which events happened the longest ago? Which are more recent? Are there clues in the pictures or do they have previous knowledge to support their decisions?
  • Talk about the Olympic Games being held in London in the future. Can they think of any more future events?
  • Complete the timeline. Were the results as they expected?

Shared reading and writing

  • Now watch the slide show. What sort of text is this? How do they know? What are the features of a non-fiction text? Discuss how you can read the information two ways: chronologically in order, moving through the timeline; or in any order, clicking on a time period.
  • Read some of the screens together and work out any new/unfamiliar vocabulary. Discuss the best strategy to use in each case.
  • Read some of the children’s earlier questions. Has the text answered them? If not, how might they find the answers? Give them time in the independent activities to do further research.
  • Model for the children how to write an extended caption or short paragraph about a great event that has happened in their life.

Guided and independent activities

  • Use the internet or encyclopaedias to create your own timelines of historical events. Less able children could sequence photographs of themselves as they have grown up, writing their age under each picture with a simple caption of what they could do at that age.
  • Choose one of the great events from the interactive text and find out more details about it.
  • Invite a visitor into school to talk to the children about an event in the past – eg, their memories of the current Queen’s coronation, World War II or the first Moon landing. The children could interview the visitor and make a report.
  • Ask the children to draw a picture of a great event in their lives, tell a partner about it then write an extended caption/paragraph. Alternatively, they can plot events from different times using the activity sheet below.


  • Share the children’s drawings/captions. Discuss what makes a good caption then make a timeline of their ‘great events’.