Lesson Plan

Pinning Up the Past: Using Timelines


Students will complete a scavenger hunt for information using primary sources gathered from two of the physical locations at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Information the students gather will be used to create an interactive timeline of events in Johnson’s life. This activity works best with an on-site visit to Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.


1) The students will organize informational text to depict the events in Andrew Johnson’s life.


Andrew Johnson National Historic Site offers multiple primary resources to share the story of Andrew Johnson as he rose from a runaway apprentice to a political leader. These resources provide an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in several content areas, including social studies, reading and language arts.



This lesson is completed in two parts. Part one utilizes the Timeline Scavenger Hunt Student Worksheet (2 pages). A teacher answer sheet is also provided; Part two utilizes the completed Timeline Scavenger Hunt Student Worksheets, the Large Timeline Graphics, and the Teacher Page for Creating the Timeline which includes discussion questions. The timeline is created with a clothesline and clothes pins. Copies of the Timeline Scavenger Hunt Student Worksheet, Teacher Answer Sheet, Large Timeline Graphics and Teacher Page for Creating a Timeline should be downloaded and printed before the lesson takes place. If you are planning to implement this lesson on-site, contact a park ranger for use of the clothesline and clothes pins.


Scavenger Hunt

Divide students into suggested groups of 3. Give each group a Timeline Scavenger Hunt Worksheet (attached in this lesson plan) . Explain to the students how the questions correspond to the titles of exhibits in and around the Early Home and inside the Visitor Center Museum area. Give students 15 minutes to complete each side of the Timeline Scavenger Hunt worksheet. This part of the lesson should take 30 minutes total.

Create the Timeline

Students will work in small teams. Students or teacher can set up the timeline (clothesline and clothes pins) at the Homestead (items are available for loan from the park rangers). The students will use the information from their Timeline Scavenger Hunt worksheet to fill in the blanks on the large cards to be displayed on the timeline (cards may be printed out in this lesson or borrowed from park rangers). When each group has filled in the blank for their card, the students will present their information to the whole group, and then place it in the correct location on the timeline. Once all the cards are displayed on the timeline, the groups will answer questions about the timeline (print out the teacher answer page with discussion questions in this lesson).


Assess student understanding by completion of activity pages, proper placement of timeline cards, and analysis of informational texts.


Park Connections

The significance of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site to our country’s cultural heritage is in the reflection of the 17th President’s modest and humble lifestyle. This is demonstrated in the parks museum collection, historic furnishings and the architecture of the buildings that the President once owned. Rising from the ranks of the working class, Andrew Johnson overcame many obstacles so that he could influence and champion the cause of the working people. This theme is preserved in the tailoring artifacts and shop exhibited at the site. Students will utilize the primary resources available from the sites to determine the significance of events in Johnson’s life and his impact on American history.


After completing the timeline for Andrew Johnson’s life, students may wish to research and create a timeline for another past president’s life. Students may then compare and contrast the events of the two.


chronological, impeachment, apprenticeship, emancipation, veto, monument