Making timelines

Timelines help us understand historical events by depicting their sequence and time span graphically. This activity uses online or paper timelines to explore the history of Victoria, with reference to the 2013 centenary of the Library's domed reading room.

This activity is linked to the Discovering people inquiry unit and is targeted at students in Years 5 and 6.

Tuning in

  • Select and print some key events from the Chronology of the dome, omitting the dates. Give one event to each student and ask them to work together to arrange the events in chronological order.
  • Together with your students, brainstorm dates that hold personal, local, national or other significance. Record these dates on the board. Once several dates are recorded, sort them into chronological order. Ask students if they can think of any other ways to present the chronology of these events.


  • Instruct students on how to produce their own timelines to record significant events in the history of Victoria and the State Library. The following online resources include useful dates: Chronology of the dome, Timeline of early Victoria, Architecture of the Library and Ergo.
  • Search the Library catalogue to find images and other information to enliven student timelines.
  • Once dates and other materials are gathered, help students construct timelines using a web-based timeline tool like Timeglider, Dipity, Tiki-Toki or Timeline JS. (Most of these sites function in a similar way: dates are added and labelled before additional information like photos, videos, links or text is attached. Dates are automatically inserted into the timeline at the correct location. Students can scroll and zoom to view the content. You might also like to check out Bright Ideas' tags for timelines.)
  • Alternatively, you can create timelines on paper. First, consider whether you want to create an ordered timeline (listing events in chronological order only) or a scaled timeline (listing a time span within the chronological order). For the latter, students will need to determine the span of time to be covered on their timeline. Look at wikihow's Make a timeline for ideas on how to do this, or refer to Microsoft's guide to creating timelines in Word 2010.


  • Ask students to share their timelines with the class as well as others outside of your class.
  • Consider: what are timelines good at showing? What are they less effective at showing? What other topics could students produce timelines for?


  • Share your learning by collaborating on a timeline with your class to show significant events for yourself, your students and your communities.
  • Explore the timelines at the Google Cultural Institute.