Why Use A Timeline?
A Revolutionary War timeline will help your students connect historical events. As teachers, we often teach events one at a time. We may assume that students are connecting the events together in their minds. However, they often aren’t.
Timelines help students:
view events as part of a larger movement
sequence events in order
identify cause and effect
deepen their understanding of a historical period
Free Revolutionary War Timeline Activity
This timeline sorting activity will teach students about some of the events of the Revolutionary War. I have created cards for 16 important events―from Lexington and Concord to the Treaty of Paris.
First, the students learn about the events from this 19-minute video from the American Battlefield Trust. Then, they put the events in the correct order on the timeline. You can also find more Revolutionary War videos for kids here.
Disclaimer: Of course, there were more than 16 important Revolutionary War events. Possible extension activity: Ask students to add more events to the timeline.
Objective: I can place 16 important Revolutionary War events in order on a timeline.
1. Pass out timeline worksheets. Students place the two pages next to each other on their desks to form the timeline.
2. Then ask students to make observations about the blank timeline. What time period is covered? (1775-1783) What units of time are used? (years) What else do you notice?
3. Pass out the event cards. Next, students cut them out and read through the events. I recommend sorting events by type (see picture below). Some students may be able to use background knowledge to begin placing some of the events.
4. Show this 19-minute video about the Revolutionary War and ask students to listen for the 16 events. I highly recommend turning on the subtitles while watching. If you have access to a class set of student devices, that would be even better! Then, students can pause the video and rewind as needed.
Hint: DO NOT have students get the glue sticks out yet! Trust me. If you do, within 5 minutes someone will be raising their hand because they started gluing before they were done and made a mistake.
If you don’t want to use the video, another option is to have students do their own research to complete their timeline. Here are some good resources:
5. When students finish, they can check their work with a partner and/or the teacher. Finally, they glue the events down.
There are also many ways to extend this activity and deepen student thinking. For example, here are a few student prompts:
Identify the turning point in the war. What if that event had gone differently? Explain what you think would happen.
Compare the timeline to another timeline (for instance the War of 1812 or the French Revolution).
Make judgments about the events. Which would you label as good, bad, or neutral? Why?
If you need more extension ideas for timelines, I love Matt Miller’s ideas on his website Ditch That Textbook.
Download the timeline, event cards, and answer key below!
Want a FREE Revolutionary War Battles Lesson?
In this lesson, students learn about 8 important Revolutionary War battles by analyzing clues around the room. The “clues” are primary and secondary sources like a map of Bunker Hill, a letter from George Washington, and a graph of battle casualties.
Students learn about the following battles:
- Battles of Lexington and Concord
- Battle of Bunker (Breed’s Hill)
- Battle of Long Island (Brooklyn)
- Battles of Trenton and Princeton
- Battle of Saratoga (Freeman’s Farm/Bemis Heights)
- Siege of Charleston
- Battle of Cowpens
- Battle of Yorktown
Enter your email below to grab your free Revolutionary War Battles lesson!
More Revolutionary War Teaching Materials
I hope you enjoy the free Revolutionary War timeline! You may also be interested in Revolutionary War videos for kids and Revolutionary War primary sources.
If you need more than a lesson, check out my interactive 3-week Revolutionary War Unit. My favorite part is the week-long simulation where students act as spies, officers, and soldiers in the Continental Army. The kids love it!
Hi! I’ve just discovered your lovely resources. Here the video you recommended is missing… could you please share the title so that I may track it down. Thank you.
Thanks so much for letting me know! Here is the updated link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JLvRJzvOic
Christine Valvano says
Hello- thank you for sharing this great resource. I want to make sure I am using it appropriately, so I wanted to ask if I might be able to open the file on Kami, where my students who are digitally learning can write on the timeline electronically? I have some students in person and some online, so that is the only way my online students could use it. Thanks for letting me know either way!
That’s fine as long as the Kami link is only given to your students. Enjoy!
Kristin T says
Thank you. I love your work, it is such an excellent resource for my classes! Thank you for all you do!