Jurassic Coast Timeline
What is this activity about?
The rocks and fossils on the Jurassic Coast showcase a near complete record of the Mesozoic; that’s almost 185 million years of Earth’s history in 95 miles of coastline. Understanding deep time can be very challenging for children, so it is important to begin by relating time to events that children can conceptually grasp. In this activity, children use picture cards to first understand the concept of different time periods. Then using a toilet roll, they can chart the history of time from the birth of the Earth all the way to the present day.
The picture cards for “Guess what time it is” need to be printed and cut into sets (1 set per group). The “Toilet Roll of Time” activity is ideally delivered in a large open space, so either the school playground (on a fine day) or the school hall. Lining paper can also be used but will require some preparation work beforehand to work out the timeline. This could then be displayed around the classroom. For each event in Earth’s history, you could print out and laminate the picture cards in Worksheet 4.
We would recommend purchasing a good quality toilet for the Timeline activity that can cope with being handled and stretched.
The Earth has experienced constant change over the last few billion years of its history. In particular climate has been a significant influence which has affected sea levels, temperatures and subsequently life on Earth. Discuss with the children what is happening to the Earth today, for example is there evidence to show that climate is changing? What kinds of impacts have humans made on the planet? In addition, it is interesting to note that after each mass extinction, there is an explosion of life on Earth where the path is cleared for new animals and plants to evolve.
Extensions and Adaptations
Long timelines such as the history of the Earth are notoriously difficult for young children to understand. To enhance their understanding, children could create a timeline of their life (so one toilet paper square for each year of their life), what would that look like and what events mark their life (e.g. getting a new pet, starting school).
Links to Other Resources
Jurassic Coast Timeline links really well to the following resources: