Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Geologic Time Line Activity

The Montessori teaching albums have an exercise called the "Clock of Eras." I felt that would not work as well for our family as DD really doesn't "get" the idea of a clock fully.  I didn't think it would really teach them the enormity of time as well as a long set of ribbons would... so instead I used the proportions of the clock and made a very long geologic ribbon (it's almost 60 feet in length):

I used red for the Hadean Era (a time of flaming gasses, volcanoes, etc.) -- 9ft 4 inches
I used sage green for the Archaean Era (a time of great rains, poisonous oceans) -- 17 feet 4 inches
I used yellow for the Proterozoic Era (a time when cyanobacteria and the sun worked together to put oxygen into the atmosphere) -- 26 feet
I used blue for the Paleozoic Era (a time when most life lived in the seas to protect it from harmful rays of the sun) -- 3 feet 9 inches
I used gold for the Mesozoic Era (a time of the great reptiles, among other life) -- 2 feet 5 inches
I used green for the Cenozoic Era (a time  with plants, animals birds, humans) -- 10 inches

As you can see in the picture above we used various "props" to put onto our timeline.  I had made some things out of cornstarch clay earlier this summer (a small volcano, pretend fossils,etc as I didn't know if we'd have our stuff) -- we also had a plastic dinosaur, plastic mammals and a pretend human (Strawberry Shortcake!) for the very end of the timeline.

Another time we did an activity What Came First? I wrote out index cards and let LD try to put them into the correct order.  The cards included things like
green algae
spiders ferns
the first mammals
the first birds

In the picture below, LD is putting things in their proper order (according the UCBerkley website)On the left in the photo I wrote out the chart from the website out by hand as a reference. I found it amazing is that grass came into the fossil record *after* camels (ants, dinosaurs and so forth).

The kids loved when we stretched the timeline through the house and they had to put things in the proper Era (the volcano, dinosaur, plastic wooly mammoth, etc.)

If you want to go even farther with your studies of the geologic eras, these Montessori teachers posted wonderful lesson plans on all of the various eras. We didn't delve into their lessons as I had been promising DD a big unit on dinosaurs all summer as we traveled around and we've moved on to that.  We've done lots of hands on dinosaur activities... so stay tuned if you're interested in those! (Oh, and if you and your kids are inspired, you might try making a "trash-o-saurus" and link in with us at the end of this week! I thought that was such a fabulous idea and we've been working on ours for about 10 days now!!)


  1. Love it! I am a visual person and seeing this stretch out through the house would de\finitely have an impact! Great idea! Thanks for sharing.