Lesson Plan

Deep Time and You

dark rock surrounding light rock
3 billion year old granulite (white rock) at Echo Crater. The older rock was carried up by the surrounding basaltic lava.

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Sixth Grade
Earth Science, Geology
1-2 hours
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
timeline, geologic time


Students create time lines showing significant events in Earth's history and their own lives.


  • Students will be able to construct a time line.
  • Students will begin to comprehend the magnitude of geologic time.


The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, a number too large for people to conceptualize. If we were to shrink the Earth down to the size of a basketball and compress those 4.5 billion years into a few hours we would be able to observe radical changes. Continents would race around the globe, sink beneath the sea, rise up again, smash into other continents, build mountains, and erode back into the sea. Volcanoes would continually erupt and then quickly be weathered away. An astounding array of life would evolve and most of it would pass into extinction seconds later. Asteroids would occasionally slam into Earth. Indeed, the Earth would look like an extraordinarily dynamic little sphere before us.

But from our reference point, change of this magnitude is hard to appreciate. Yet if we begin to grasp the immensity of geologic time,
we can begin to recognize the changing nature of Earth.

See "Additional Resources" below for links to introductory materials about the geology of Craters of the Moon.

From the Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon.


  •  Adding machine tape (3 or 4 inches wide by about 100 feet)
  • Pencils, pens, crayons
  • String or yarn
  • Use of a large indoor wall while your class is studying about Craters of the Moon
Students will construct time lines using adding machine tape. Completed time lines will be displayed on a wall for reference during the weeks you are studying Craters of the Moon. In subsequent Cultural History and Ecology units, new time lines will be added to the existing ones on the wall. Time lines of different scales will be linked together with string or yarn to show temporal relationships. For example,

TimeLine 1


Park Connections

The relevance of the dates and places will grow as they build upon the time line in future weeks. Doing this exercise now will help to familiarize students with names of features they will see on their field trip.

Additional Resources

Geology of Craters of the Moon:
For Teachers
For Students


time line
geologic time

Last updated: February 28, 2015