NEW! Eye-Popping Inventions Timeline
Ready, set, research, create, innovate! Dive into the fascinating realm of inventions and inventors as your class creates a 3D timeline highlighting important inventions and their impact on the world.
- Examine the process of inventing a new product and research a specific invention of their choosing in greater detail.
- Use a timeline to organize all of the inventions researched by the class and analyze the sequence of these inventions looking for patterns and relationships.
- Create glue dough and use it to form an icon representing the invention they selected.
- Distill information from their research into a museum-style card to accompany their invention icon on the class timeline.
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7. Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Grade-appropriate nonfiction books or access to websites about famous inventors and inventions, Elmer’s® Washable School Glue, Elmer’s® X-Treme School Glue Stick, cardboard, construction paper, white bread (three slices per student), paper plates (one per student), paint (acrylic will yield the best results), paintbrushes, and markers
SET UP AND PREPARE
An invention is a product or process that did not previously exist and was created through the process of inventing.
- People invent things in response to a problem they see in the world around them or a desire to improve something that currently exists, though sometimes inventions are the result of a mistake or an experiment that yields an unexpected result.
- An invention can be an entirely new way of performing a task that people already do, like inventing the telephone as a way to communicate with others who are far away, or an invention can be a more effective, safer, or less costly way of performing an existing task, like the invention of the sewing machine as a replacement for hand-sewing.
- One invention may spark another invention, like the creation of books following the invention of writing.
Glue Dough: If desired, the teacher may mix up the glue dough necessary for this lesson ahead of time in lieu of making the dough with the class.
Printable: Inventions Research Organizer
Invention, inventor, timeline
Introduction (five minutes)
Begin the lesson by tapping into what students already know about the topics of inventions and timelines. What are some historical inventions you have studied before? What are some things you use each day that were probably invented by someone? Have you ever invented something new?
What is a timeline? Review the concept of a timeline as a way of organizing historical events horizontally according to when they occurred. Share with students that today they will create a class timeline featuring important inventions from history.
Research and Inspiration (15 minutes)
Provide students with grade-appropriate nonfiction texts pertaining to significant inventors and inventions throughout history, or access to the Internet. Ask each student to look through the materials or browse appropriate websites in order to discover a specific invention he or she would like to research further. Record each student’s selection to ensure that there are no duplicates.
Research and Writing (40 minutes)
Give each student a copy of the Inventions Research Organizer printable or display the printable on the whiteboard and have each student record his or her responses on a separate sheet of paper. Once students have addressed each question on the printable, have them ask a peer to edit their work and check for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Have students make any necessary corrections to their writing.
Next, give each student an index card on which to write the name of the invention he or she researched as well as when, where, and by whom it was invented. Have students also write one to two sentences about why this invention is important to the world.
Glue Dough Icon Creation (25 minutes plus one day to dry dough shapes)
If desired, the teacher can create the glue dough ahead of time; otherwise, provide each student with a paper plate, three slices of white bread, and Elmer’s School Glue. In order to make glue dough, students must first remove the crusts of the bread slices and then tear the soft inner bread into small pieces about the size of a shirt button and place them in a pile on the paper plate. Next, students will add a drizzle of glue to the bread pieces and begin kneading the sticky mixture in their hands. Once they can no longer see the glue, it’s time to add another drizzle of glue if the dough is still too crumbly. If the dough is soft, workable, and sticks together well, it’s ready to use. The ratio for the dough will be approximately three slices of white bread to two teaspoons of Elmer’s School Glue. Once the dough is ready, have students create an icon representing the invention they selected. For best results, encourage students to create a flat shape from the dough and etch details using toothpicks or pencil tips.
Allow dough shapes to air-dry overnight and then invite students to add some color and detail with a coat of paint (acrylic craft paint will yield the most vivid colors, but tempera paint can also be used).Technology Extension: Visit http://the1stday.com and download the Elmer’s 1st Day app. Then take a picture of each student and his or her newly created invention icon. Use the app to email or provide these to parents.
Wrap-up (25 minutes)
On a large piece (or several large pieces if necessary) of Elmer’s® Foam Board or cardboard covered with colorful paper, draw a timeline that covers the time span of the inventions selected by the class. Guide students in adding appropriate divisions along the line and corresponding labels. Next, have students glue their invention icon and index card using Elmer’s® X-Treme School Glue Stick to the class timeline at the correct location. As a class, tour the timeline as a way to appreciate humanity’s rich history of innovation!
Whiteboard Extension Activities
- Combination Inventions: Sometimes new products or services are invented by combining two different things. Draw two columns on the whiteboard. In the first column, ask the class to list products they use every day. In the second column, ask students to list elements of their daily routine such as eating breakfast, doing homework, or tying one’s shoes. Next, challenge students to pick one item from each column and combine them to create a new invention they describe in an annotated diagram.
- Idea Web: How can one invention spark the creation of even more inventions? Draw a circle in the middle of the board and write a significant invention in the circle, such as written language, the lightbulb, the gas-powered engine, water aqueducts, etc. Next, ask students to identify products or processes that emerged as a result of this invention and write each of these in a smaller circle surrounding the center circle in order to form a web graphic. For example, one might begin with “the Internet” in the center circle and come up with “websites,” “music downloads,” and “email” as entries for the satellite circles.
- Invention Fair: Host an invention fair in your classroom by challenging students to think of an existing product they could improve and then create a small model demonstrating their idea for improvements. Encourage students to think of daily tasks they perform and products they use frequently. For example, a student could propose an improved mechanical pencil that has an eraser attached just to the side of the tip so that one doesn’t have to flip the pencil in order to erase. Once students have made their models, invite other classrooms or members of the community to come tour the class invention fair and speak with the inventors!
- Before and After: Ask students to imagine the world before and after the introduction of the invention they selected for their research. Using a sheet of paper folded in half lengthwise, have students write a short piece describing how people lived before this invention on half of the page and a short piece about life with this invention on the other half. Practice revision skills, by having students “peer edit” and then correct their writing.
- As a class, take turns reading the invention-themed poems found in Incredible Inventions by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This entertaining book is well-suited for reading aloud and features a variety of poems about the invention of everyday items such as Velcro, Fig Newtons, and Band-Aids. Drawing inspiration from the poems in the book, have students write a short rhyming riddle about an everyday product and then ask a friend to guess the item being described.
Visit http://the1stday.com/ and download the Elmer’s 1st Day app to capture and share the first day of school and beyond. You can create slide shows, personalize photos, share “first day” albums, and more.
In this home-connection activity, students will discuss the theme of inventions with family members to gain a better sense of how inventions can change lives. Students will interview a relative to find out how a major technological invention, such as TV, cell phones, the Internet, or personal computers, has impacted that person’s life at work or life at home. Have students record these stories and bring in a photo of the relative they interviewed to share with the class. As a group, discuss any common themes between the stories shared by the students and locate each of the inventions mentioned on the class timeline.