Grade: 6, 7, 8

In partners, students will examine icons from the Dakota timeline to understand key elements in creating an icon. Students will then examine the whole timeline to understand how a timeline is created. In the end, students will create their own icon and explanation that could be added to the wall.

Essential Question

How do you create an effective icon?

Big Idea

Icons share key messages.

View Complete Lesson Plan

Lesson Outline

TIME DURATION: Approximately 3 (1 hour) sessions

English Language Arts
Other Cues and Conventions:

Comprehend and Respond:What additional information is conveyed through these other elements? What impact or effect do these elements have?

Compose and Create: How could I clarify or enhance my communication using other elements such as graphics, colour, sound, movement, or props?


Think Aloud Strategy

  1.  Put the Article Why Icons are Important up on the data projector for students to follow along as it is being read aloud.
  2.  Read the Article. As the article is being read aloud, stop at least 4 times at points that stand out to you, explaining the importance of icons. Explain what you are thinking after you that selection.
  3.  After the article is finished, have students make a list of icons they are familiar with, and have them explain what the icon is and the effectiveness of the icon. If students need support, choose an icon that is well known as an exemplar and explain it (Example: Google icon).
  4.  Explain that students will be looking at a timeline that is predominantly made up of icons, and the icons are going to be examined to see what message they convey. At the end, each person will add their own icon to the timeline that helps to enhance the timeline and the message the timeline is sharing.


  1.  Explain why the timeline was created. Refer to the Timeline Information Card to have background information on why the timeline was created. Each student receives one of the icons from the timeline. The student can brainstorm answers to the following questions:
    •  What is the icon a picture of?
    •  Why was the icon chosen?
  2.  Students share their icon and brainstorm with one other person and see if their partner has any other ideas.
  3.  Hand out the corresponding sentence that goes with the icon. The student then again goes through step one and two including thoughts about the sentence. Students can add thoughts to their previous brainstorm and answer one other question:
    •  Why was this event added on the timeline
  4.  For the third examination of the icon have the student read the corresponding fact card that explains in greater depth the reason the icon was chosen for the timeline.
  5.  Have students examine the whole timeline and discuss the layout of the timeline. The Timeline Development PowerPoint can be shared to show the background, and the rationale to the layout of the timeline.
  6.  Discuss the attributes and the effectiveness of the timeline.
  7.  As a class, come up with important aspects that need to be considered when creating an icon. Some aspects might be:
    •  Simplistic
    •  Clarity of message
    • Appropriate for the message being delivered
    • Scale size is appropriate to the rest of the timeline
  8.  After the list has been made see if some items can be combined. Come up with about 4 key aspects. This list can be used to assess students work when they create their own icon (see next step).
  9.  Using their learning, students can individually or in partners create an icon graphic that would be appropriate to add to the wall. Students need to be able to explain why the icon would be important to add to the wall. Students can use the Icon Student Handout.


  1.  Once the personal icons have been created, students can put them in their correct position on the timeline and briefly explain why they chose the icon and the importance of the icon to the timeline.
  2.  Students will hand in their icon and sentence with an explanation as to why it was created for the timeline.



  • If students are not able to go to the Timeline Wall Display at Chief Whitecap School, then the timeline could be made in the classroom using the Timeline Icons and Corresponding Sentences Student Package information.
  • Students could create a timeline for their own life or another set of events using icons and using brief explanation word points.