Create a Timeline of Earth

Part of the Dinosaurs: Activities and Lesson Plans Curriculum Collection.

Our planet Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. That’s a really, really long time ago! To help picture it, imagine the entire history of the Earth squeezed into just twelve hours, from noon to midnight. When we think of time in this way, humans have only been around for about a minute!

To describe Earth’s vast history, scientists use a geologic timescale. They divide it into long segments of time called eras. Each era is further divided into periods.

Earth events and organisms characterize each era and period. For example, the Mesozoic Era starts after an extinction event that wiped out almost 90% of species on Earth. Dinosaurs then fl ourished until the end of the Mesozoic Era, which is marked by another major extinction event. Most dinosaurs went extinct but one group of dinosaurs—birds—survived.

Working in a small team, you will create a poster presentation about one of the periods. You can use classroom and library resources, as well as the Internet to research the following information:

  1. Landmasses What did the surface of the Earth look like? Illustrate the arrangement of landmasses and/or continents.
  2. Climate What was the climate like? Was there an ice age? Was it very warm?



  • As a part of your presentation, illustrate a 12-hour clock and mark the span of the period on the clock. Hint: Each hour corresponds to 375 million years.
  • Include photographs of plant and animal fossils or artist renditions of organisms that lived during the period.