Try this at the start of each class period where you plan to use the
main activity. It should take no more than 5-10 minutes, and will get your students
thinking together about dates and events.
- Choose one of the events from the list you created.
- Write it on the board in such a way that nothing identifies when it took place.
(Example: Asteroid strikes earth leading to the dinosaur extinction.)
- Explain to the group that you are going to help them identify the date for this event.
The rules are that you will call on one student at a time. (Volunteers or not; your
choice.) Based on what s/he knows or has already heard, the chosen student is to
give the best date s/he can determine for the event. (Depending on the event, you
might want to specify that answers should be a specific year, or the number of years ago
the event took place.) You should keep a written list of the answers (and maybe who
For the second and subsequent students, announce only that the date is either closer to or
farther from the actual date; or that it is a repeat of one given earlier. Proceed
this way until the correct date is identified.
If you like, you can record points for each answer; and use them later in any way you
choose. I give 1 point for each answer that gets us closer to or identifies the
actual date; -1 for each that is farther away from it; and -2 for each that repeats an
earlier contribution. The latter helps to encourage attentiveness.
- Select one student and ask him/her to begin by stating when s/he thinks this event
- Proceed to call on students until the actual date is identified.
- On a sheet of paper they are to keep, have students note down the event and its actual
date. Explain that they will need this sheet for future activities related to these
- Go on to the main activity.
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original web posting: Wednesday, September 9, 1998
Tuesday, March 16, 2004