Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Incredible Inventions That Make A Difference

Beverly Simpkins
Leon County Schools


Students use reading and research skills to effectively retrieve and synthesize information about inventions that have made an impact in their lives. This is an introductory lesson on developing timelines.


The student separates collected information into useful components using a variety of techniques.


-Legal size white paper
-Clothesline (optional)
-Clothespins (optional)
-Variety of colors of construction paper (optional)
-Language arts reference material such as ALL WRITE, A STUDENT HANDBOOK FOR WRITING AND LEARNING, Dave Kemper, Patrick Sebranek, and Verne Meyer, and Verne Meyer, 1998, Great Source Education Group, Inc.
-Reference materials with information on inventions such as 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE, DK Publishing Co., 2000.
-Overhead projector
-Transparencies showing examples
-3 to 5 simple appliances, games or devices that were invented within the period of time of study
-Examples of past student timeline product or a teacher developed example


1. Gather materials.
2. Make copies of student handouts.
3. Make example timeline or retrieve a previously developed timeline completed by a student.


1. Display a few easy to obtain items that were invented within the time period of the research. Conduct a short game activity, Guess That Year. Students give their best guesses of the year that the item was invented. Fun items could include a Monopoly game, a credit card, a Frisbee, compact discs, Velcro, a computer mouse, a blender, sliced bread, or vacuum cleaner.

2. Encourage students to share their ideas on how these items have changed the way they do things.

3. Introduce the assignment with the steps involved, the activities, and the assessment procedures.The steps will be to assign years to research inventions. The students will take notes and develop a timeline, and then they will report their results. After each student develops their individual time line, they will put them together to develop one complete class timeline.

4. Read and review the process of reading research materials, retrieving essential information and developing a timeline. Use a reference material and an example timeline to demonstrate how to read for who, what, and when the item was invented.

5. Introduce vocabulary that they will encounter such as chronology, sequence, decade, century, and graphic organizer.

6. Assign each student a span of years to investigate inventions. Explain that each student will find different numbers of inventions for their assigned years, but they should each find at least three. This is an example of the span of years to be used.
a. 1901-1902
b. 1903-1904
c. 1905-1906
d. 1907-1908
e. 1909-1910
f. 1911-1912
g. 1913-1914
h. 1915-1916
i. 1917-1918
j. 1919-1920
k. 1921-1922
l. 1923-1924
m. 1925-1926
n. 1927-1928
o. 1929-1930
p. 1931-1932
q. 1933-1934
r. 1935-1936
s. 1937-1938
t. 1939-1940
u. 1941-1942
v. 1943-1944
w. 1945-1946
x. 1947-1948
y. 1949-1950
z. 1951-1952

7. Students are assigned to take notes using the notecard materials found in the Associated File as they find information about inventions, recording what the invention was, who invented it, how it was invented (if available) and other essential details.

8. After students take notes, they complete a horizontal timeline on the legal paper using the example timeline displayed in the room. This is the example from a previous student or teacher-made. Give directions that the name of the invention and the inventor is to be listed below the line and that the year is to be listed above the line. Have them add a picture or graphic above each date. Students can draw or cut out pictures from magazines. Encourage them to add color to their timelines.

9. As a final activity, direct the students to line up with their part of the timeline in chronological order. The timeline can then be presented and displayed by taping the pieces together or hanging them on a clothesline.


Students will be formatively assessed during group discussions, individual reading, and researching via teacher observation of student behavior. Using the rubric assessment in the attached file, the teacher assesses the following student performances using observation and evaluating the products:
Timeline contains the name of the invention, name of the inventor, and year of invention.
Timeline contains at least three entries accurately in chronological order.
Student places his or her timeline in the accurate place in the total timeline showing his or her understanding of chronological order.
Student presents information from his or her assigned years and describes how this particular item has made a difference in people’s lives.


For students needing modifications to facilitate reading and / or writing disabilities, the following options could be carried out:
1. Students can work in pairs to complete their timeline part.
2. Students could type their entries for the timeline.

1. Students can then write a summary of the information for practice in writing.
2. Students could visit the computer lab and obtain information on inventions on the nternet.

Web Links

Web supplement for Incredible Inventions That Make a Difference
CBC 4 Kids

Attached Files

Documents: rubric, notecard, and year assignment list.     File Extension: pdf

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