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Online Lessons for Teachers: Learning Evolution


What Is the Evidence for Evolution?

View LESSON 3 Student Page

Activity 1: Evolution and Time

Activity 2: Evidence for Evolution WebQuest

Activity 2: Teacher Notes

Materials You'll Need:
•  calculator
•  8 1/2" x 11" Paper
•  markers
•  crayons
•  scissors
•  magazines
•  glue

Activity 1 Teacher Notes: Evolution and Time

In this activity, students travel back in time to observe an ancient environment. They will gain a sense of the vast scope of time and Earth's ever-changing environment by comparing two online timelines, describing a particular geologic time period, and making a geologic birthday card.

Learning Goals


To provide students with a sense of the vast scope of geologic time


To show students how Earth has changed over time


To enable students to visualize the Earth's ecosystem at a specific time period

Part A: Geologic Time Journal
Students create a detailed journal entry for a specific time period.


Introduce students to the concept of geologic time by investigating the Deep Time Web activity and the University of California Museum of Paleontology's Web Geologic Time Machine.

 Screen grab from the Deep Time Web activity.

Deep Time


When you visit the University of California site, you will find that for the early Earth the eras, rather than the time periods, are linked. Distribute the links (whether for eras or time periods) evenly around the class to make sure every segment of time is covered.


Instruct your students to follow the directions on the Student Page to make a detailed journal entry of their time period or era from the point of view of an observer. Ask them to pretend that they are walking on Earth at that time. Have them describe the rock layers, the life (if any exists), and the environment. You may also want them to write a follow-up page about how we know what that environment looked like long ago. Ask them what evidence they used to write their descriptions.


If time allows, you may want to encourage students to illustrate their entries, either with their own original artwork or pictures from a magazine or Web site.


Collect all journal entries and place them in order of time. You may want to post the timeline on the wall or bind it so students can read it.

Part B: Happy Birthday, Earth!
Students design a birthday card for the Earth for a specific time period.


Distribute blank 8 1/2 x 11" paper, markers, crayons, scissors, magazine, and glue, or have students design their cards on the computer.


You may want to work out the calculations for your own birthday on the board as an example, or have students view the online example.


Explain to students that although the time period they are researching is based on their own birthdays, the birthday card should be addressed to the Earth.


Mention to your class that for those born in the early part of the year not much was happening on Earth. You may want to let some of them switch to their half birthdays.


Travel around the classroom as students design their cards. Suggest that they use the pictures on the web resources as reference material for their own artwork, or they could print the pictures. If students are having trouble thinking of what to put on their cards, ask them questions, such as:

What do the continents look like at this time?

What is the environment like?

How do you know what organisms, if any, were alive at that time? (i.e. Have any fossils been found from this time period? What kind and where were they found?)


Have students line up in order of their birthdays and read their cards out loud to the class, or have them pass their cards around the room.

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