The Story of Everything


This is an activity based on the picture book The Story of Everything

Achievement Objectives
GM3-1: Use linear scales and whole numbers of metric units for length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), angle, temperature, and time.
NA3-1: Use a range of additive and simple multiplicative strategies with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  1. Students will be able to construct a model of time using metric units of length to represent years.
  2. Students will be able to work accurately with different scales when constructing accurate timelines.
Description of Mathematics
  1. The decimal place value system is based on the fact that each place increases (to the left) or decreases (to the right) by a factor of 10.
  2. Once one understands the magnitude of 1000, then a million can be understood as 1000 thousands.
Required Resource Materials
The Story of Everything by Neal Layton

Long strips of paper (1.5 m long)


Universe Timeline
This activity is based on the picture book: The Story of Everything

Author: Neal Layton
Illustrator: Corina Fletcher
Publisher: Hodder (2006)
ISBN: 978-0-7641-5985-5

The history of the universe from the Big Bang to present day told in a series of exciting pop-ups and interactive illustrations. The story of the universe and life on Earth is presented as a sequence of events from 15 billion years ago to present day.

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, explore your students’ understanding and conceptualization of very large whole numbers. Review the place value designations for thousands, millions, and billions.



  2. Share the book with your students. As you read the story, draw their attention to the pink hand denoting the number of years. Record these on the board or in a modeling book to refer to after reading.
  3. Discuss how long a timeline would need to be to represent some of the events. Use a metre ruler to demonstrate a timeline where one mm is one year. How many years are represented in 1m? What is each mm represented 100 years?
  4. As a class, or in small groups construct 2 timelines. One to represent the time between the big bang and the extinction of the dinosaurs (15 billion years ago to 65 million years ago) and another to represent the time between the emergence of apes (130,000 years ago) and present day.
  5. Ask students to measure and cut a strip of paper 1.5 m long. Mark every 10 cm. Tell them this represents the age of the universe- 15 billion years.
    Ask: What does each 10 cm mark represent on their universe timeline? What about 1cm and 1 mm? (Answer: 10 cm = 1 billion years, 1 cm = 100 million years and 1 mm = 10 million years)
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Level Three