Embark on an epic journey through the past, from the Big Bang to the first human civilizations, with this ancient history game for kids – Ancient History Timeline!

Ancient history game for kids

In the beginning, there was the Big Bang. According to the science’s best estimate, it happened 13.8 billion years ago. The Sun and the Earth formed much later, approximately 4.6 and 4.54 billion years ago. You might not know the exact dates, but thus far, the progression is easy to guess.

Things get interesting quickly. Did the first animals appear before the first land plants or not? Did the mammals co-exist with dinosaurs or come after them? Were modern humans the first to invent primitive tools, or did the tools come before? If you think you can answer these questions, you may do well in this game!

But, with the end of the last ice age, the timeline gets more convoluted. Humans start to farm, create written systems, and go on making one impressive invention after another. Was silk invented before paper? Did catapults come before lighthouses? Did humans create schools or sanitation systems first?

You will find out about all this and more if you play the Ancient History Timeline game!

In the game, players compete against their friends, classmates or family to assemble an accurate timeline of prehistoric and ancient events. Each game card represents a pivotal historical moment, waiting to be placed in its correct chronological order.

Setting up to play the ancient history game for kids

Why Ancient History?

While there are history games that focus on various events and discoveries throughout human history, I wanted to create an activity that would correspond to a specific period and could be used in conjunction with history curricula by teachers and homeschoolers.

If you want a recommendation for history curricula, take a look at our favourite homeschooling curricula here.

Prehistory and ancient history often begin the study of human history. It also focuses on the largest span of events compared to other periods, which theoretically should make it easier for first-time players. If you like this game, check back in later to find other timeline games we have in the works that focus on medieval times and modern history!

How to Play the Ancient History Timeline Game

Players attempt to assemble an accurate timeline of prehistoric and ancient events in all the versions of the Ancient History Timeline game, but there are some key differences!

Basic Educational Version

In the beginning, each player gets a certain number of cards. The number is dependent on the overall number of players. Their cards are dealt in the open but with the year-side down. Once all the cards are dealt, one extra card is placed in the middle, which goes with the year-side up.

On their turn, players try to place one of their cards into the correct place on the timeline. The first player will only have two choices: put their card to the left or the right of the starting card.

The start of Ancient History timeline game

But the longer the game goes, the more choices there will be. The fourth player in this game already has five options.

Did dogs get domesticated before or after cats?

After adding a card to the timeline, players turn the card to the year side and check the answer. If the card is placed in the right place, it stays in the timeline, and the next player takes a turn. If the card is not placed in the right order, that player discards the card and has to take another one.

The goal of the Ancient History Timeline game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards.

These are the rules of this ancient history game for kids in a nutshell. It can be played by a couple of people as well as a large group, such as a class.

Timeline Game with Luck Elements

This variant is very similar to the educational game but adds an element of luck, thievery, and cooperation, which may appeal to younger players or a more relaxed company.

There are three kinds of extra cards that you will need to print for this game. Using these cards, players can exchange some of their cards, steal from one another, or ask for help.

Luck-enhancing cards for Ancient History Timeline game

Players get one of these cards randomly at the beginning of the game, and there are ways to draw more of them later on.

Co-op Timeline Game

Finally, there is a set of rules that turn this game into a complete co-op experience, where everyone works together on a big timeline and wins when it is complete. This might work best for playing with younger players – or in a classroom.

Making an ancient history timeline together

What Historical Event Cards Are Included?

There are 90 historical event cards in the Ancient History Timeline game:

  • 15% of them focus on the time before the emergence of hominids. Examples of the historical events from this period are the formation of the sun, the formation of the Earth, the first life forms, the first animals, the emergence of dinosaurs, the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, and the appearance of the first mammals.
  • 20% of them focus on the time from the emergence of hominids to the beginning of the Holocene era with the introduction of farming. Examples of the historical events from this period include the emergence of modern humans, the first controlled fire, the first domesticated animal, the first tools, the first pottery made by hand, the first musical instruments, and the first clothes.
  • The rest of the historical events, or 65%, focus on the time from the beginning of farming (about 9500 BCE) until the fall of the Roman empire (476 CE), which is considered the end of ancient times. Examples of the historical event cards in this group include “the beginning of farming,” “the first writing system,” “the invention of paper,” “the invention of silk,” “first known schools,” “first newspaper,” etc.
90 historical event cards to make a large ancient history timeline with kids

The events from 9500 BCE to 476 CE are the best represented because the game primarily focuses on human history, and we have far better knowledge and records of that time. Most history curricula also commonly focus on human history and only briefly outline prehistory.

If you supplement a curriculum and feel like your students didn’t study pre-human history enough, you can remove the earlier cards and still have many historical event cards to play with. Alternatively, I recommend using it as a learning opportunity. Most of the earlier historical events are easy to put in a timeline – for instance, the emergence of dinosaurs obviously happened before their extinction, and, of course, the Big Bang event goes at the very beginning!

Ancient History Timeline Game Features

So, what are you getting, in a nutshell?

  • a history game for kids that focuses on the chronology of various important events throughout prehistory and ancient history
  • the game comes in a printable PDF file, so you can make multiple copies, for your classroom or to give away as gifts to friends
  • a variety of rules (an educational game, an educational game with some luck-based elements, and a co-op game)
  • 90 beautifully illustrated double-sided event cards featuring historically significant events from 13.8 billion years ago (the Big Bang) until 476 CE
  • optional luck-enhancing cards to add some luck/strategy elements

Enjoy the game!

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Using Black History Guess Who, kids will learn about twenty inspiring Black people who changed the world and celebrate their achievements. It includes Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Jesse Owen, Mae Jemison, and many more.

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Make astronaut paper dolls and introduce the history of space exploration to kids with these printable paper dolls.

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Embark on an epic journey through the past with this ancient history game for kids - Ancient History Timeline!