Ancient History Lesson Plan: The Time Travel Agency

This lesson idea was inspired by a presentation given by Jeffrey Mann, of Flowing Wells High School, Tucson, Arizona, at the NCSS Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, in November 2010.



Rationale: By the end of this unit, students will have a deeper understanding of the Ancient World, and how it was made up of different nations, civilizations and empires, each with their own distinct histories, but each contributing to the larger history of humankind. The activity also encourages students to think about the significance of different civilizations and empires within the ancient world, and what they contributed to human history.

This activity should be done as the finale to a unit on ancient history. It acts as a summary and reinforcement exercise for the period.


Students are the staff of a travel agency in the year AD 4027.

It is a Time Travel Agency!

By the year 4027, time travel has become a practical proposition, and travel companies organize cruises to the past. Of course, the tourists can’t influence history in any way – in fact they and their time-ships can’t even be seen by the peoples of the past. But the large time-ships can take hundreds of passengers to any time and place in history and, hovering low over ancient cities and landscapes, give them a wonderful view of what went on.

The students’ task is to design a fortnight-long vacation which involves a time-cruise to the Ancient World. But this is not just any old cruise. This is a cruise for people who want, not only to see fascinating cities and wonderful sites, but to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Ancient World

So, the task is to design an itinerary which will take in sites specially chosen to illustrate ancient history most effectively. They have to be important sites on their own merits, but taken together, they have to build up a clear picture of what was happening in the ancient world – the key developments, the most important empires, the great civilizations and so on.

Depending on the time available, and what the teacher wishes to achieve with their class, the activity can either involve just A, below, or A and B, or A,B and C.

Task A: Design an Itinerary

The cruise takes a fortnight (ship-time) – otherwise the ship runs out of fuel and hundreds of tourists are stranded in a space-time warp.

The time ships take two standard days (ship time) to get from AD 4020 to any location in the Ancient World space-time. Then they can hop around time and space almost instantaneously, so long as they remain within the parameters of 3500 BC to AD 500. However, it is best to limit the number of locations to visit to one per day, so that the tourists aren’t overloaded with site-seeing!

Finally, the ships take 2 days to get back to 4017.

You are therefore limited to 10 sites to visit. Each can be a city, or a particular building or monument.

For research, students should use the Timemaps Atlas of World History to identify possible sites and cities to visit. To do this, students might first go to a world map at a particular date, then dip into the different regions (Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia and east Asia) to get an overview of what was happening at those places at that date. This should then give them an idea which sub-regions or countries go to, to identify particular cities or sites that are worth visiting.

The students should then use other sources for further information about what there is to see at the actual sites : Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, if they have access to it online or in the library; or Wikipedia, which often has good articles on individual historic sites, towns and cities.

Task B: Prepare and Deliver a Presentation

The groups prepare a presentation (PowerPoint, Prezi or other), to show their choices and also justify the inclusion of their particular selections. The presentations should show that the locations they have chosen are interesting in their own right, and are also important in helping tourists understand ancient history as a whole äóñ i.e. key developments in the human story.

Task C: Create a Travel Brochure

Students create a 6-panelled travel brochures:

The 1st (front) panel will outline the itinerary. It must also äóìselläó the cruise, and include a title for the cruise.


The 2nd, 3rd and 4th panels will describe the locations to be visited, three or four sites per panel. For each site there will be a photo, and a brief description of the site: when does it date from? who built it (which civilization and/or state/empire, and individual if known)? what was its purpose|? why is it worth visiting (is it spectacular? Interesting?Does it tell us a lot about the people who built it? Does it contribute to our understanding of the human story?)

The idea is to “sell” the site, sparking potential tourists’ interest in visiting it.

The 6th panel will be a creative way to advertise their äóìtravel agencyäó (this includes the studentäó»s name and class period).

The students finish by presenting their travel brochures to each other in heterogeneous groups of three-five. Each student will fill out a äóìpeer analysisäó feedback form for each of their peersäó» brochures, which will be attached to the brochure that is turned in for evaluation.


More lesson plans here

For more teaching resources see our Topic TimeMaps