Frontier Era Timeline

DURATION: One or more sessions for online research, one session for creating Living Timelines

  • Computers with an Internet connection
  • Index cards (or strips cut from adding machine tape)
  • Pens and colored markers
  • Images from the TN4ME website (optional)
Note: To print out copies of the images from the website “slideshows”, follow these steps:
1.    Click on one of the subheadings under the Information Frontier Era.
2.    When the slide you want to print shows up, click on the upper right corner to stop the slide show.
3.    Right-click on the image and select Print. (To print in grayscale, first select Grayscale under the Color tab under Preferences.)


The frontier phase of Tennessee history began in 1768 when the first settlers moved into East Tennessee, in violation of the Proclamation of 1763.  By the time Jackson was elected president in 1828, Tennessee was settled enough to no longer be considered a Frontier. 
 In this lesson, students use the Tennessee 4 Me website to research important events and inventions and then assemble themselves in chronological order to create a Living Timeline.

Guiding Questions: 

  • What important historical events occurred between 1768 and 1828?

Objectives:  Students will 

  • Understand important events between 1768 and 1828 in Tennessee and their place in the history of the United States


  • Cut the dates off of students’ “event cards” and redistribute them at random. Have students attempt to order the events without having the dates shown. (Allow them to collaborate.)


Ahead of Time:
  1. Gather the needed supplies.
  2. Decide how you will organize the students – individual work, pairs, or teams.
  3. Decide whether students will choose their own events or you will assign them.
  4. Decide what students will create in addition to an Event Card. (Will they be allowed to download an image from the website to hang around their neck?)
  5. If necessary, reserve a computer lab.

Session 1, Online:

  1. Introduce students to the Frontier Era section of the Tennessee 4 Me website
(See the Using TN4Me lesson to explain to students how the site is organized.)
  1. Explain that they will be researching important events to create a timeline.
  2. Explain how the class will work (individually, in pairs, or in teams) on the assignment.
  3. Give them their assignment (a specific event, a specific section of the website, or “free choice”). Links for assignments are listed below under Session 2. They feature information and images about important frontier dates.
  4. Pass out supplies.
  5. Allow students to conduct their online research. Depending on grade level, read the selected links (shown below) and assign specific dates or images. If the grade level is more advanced, allow the students to research and select their dates on their own.

Session 2:

  1. Using the Frontier Era images found on the Tennessee 4 Me website, have students hang an image around their neck that represents their event.
Frontier: General Info, Who Came,
Living in Tennessee: Homes, Work, Slavery
Early Statehood: Native American, American Revolution, Franklin, Southwest Territory
Becoming the 16th State, Politics, War of 1812
  1. Have students arrange themselves in chronological order in a semicircle around the walls of the room.
  2. Starting with the settlement of the Sycamore Shoals area (now Elizabethton in Carter County) around 1768, have each student in order step forward and read their event to the class.
  3. Optional: Use masking tape to tape the Event Cards and Images to the walls, in chronological order.

Extensions:Have students


  • Tennessee K-8 Social Studies Process Standards:
    Historical Thinking:
  • Construct and analyze timelines
  • Tennessee K-8 Social Studies Grade 4 Standards:
    4.5.tpi.2. Create a time line of major events.


National History Standards:
Historical Thinking Standards for Grades K-12
Standard 1:
Chronological Thinking
  • Distinguish between past, present, and future time. 
  • Interpret data presented in time lines. 
  • Create time lines. 
National History Standards:
Standard 3D: The student understands the interactions among all these groups throughout the history of his or her state.
Grade Level
Therefore the student is able to:
List in chronological order the major historical events that are part of the state's history. [Establish temporal order]
Analyze the significance of major events in the state's history, their impact on people then and now, and their relationship to the history of the nation. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
Read historical narratives to describe how the territory or region attained its statehood. [Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage]