Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

3.1 Geological Time Chart


3.1: The Geological Time Chart

A geologic time chart, with examples of common fossils from each period, is provided as a reference. In addition, a similar table with blank spaces is provided for kids to fill in the era, period, and epoch names.

Alternatively, you can encourage your kids to create their own timeline in whatever way they like. For instance, some kids prefer a horizontal timeline, illustrating it to show different creatures that supplanted one another through time.

If you get a long roll of large paper, this also makes a neat group activity. Roll the paper the entire length of a room and divide it up into the geological time scale. Then pass out pencils, colorful markers and crayons, and assign kids to different periods to illustrate with fossils and reconstructions of plant and animal life of those periods.

Finally, another neat activity for illustrating the vast scale of geologic time is to make a timeline in chalk on a sidewalk with one inch equaling one million years. (Thus, to go from the beginning of the Cambrian Period to the present, your time line would stretch 544 inches, or more than 45 feet! And that‘s ignoring the preceding four billion years of earth history—for that, you‘ll need a bigger piece of chalk!) Give kids pieces of colored chalk to draw pictures of appropriate fossils at different spots along the timeline, with trilobites in the Cambrian, dinosaurs in the Jurassic, and so forth.

One superb web site that guides kids interactively through the whole of geological time has been put together by the Smithsonian Institution‘s National Museum of Natural History. The site spotlights the geological events and their associated biological organisms throughout the different eons, eras, periods and epochs of earth‘s history. It‘s packed full of info, including backgrounders on dating techniques scientists use.