History of Automobiles

Grade Levels: 3 - 5


  • Students will use both print and Internet sources to research the history of the automobile.
  • Students will determine the accuracy of online information.
  • Students will use their research to create a timeline about the production of the automobile.


  • Reference materials concerning automobile history
  • Internet access


  1. Point out to students that the invention of the automobile helped create suburban communities.
  2. Tell students that they will be gathering information about the history of the automobile.
  3. Discuss where students can look for information about automobile history (books, Internet, magazines, encyclopedias).
  4. Brainstorm keywords that would be associated with the history of automobiles (Henry Ford, cars, assembly line, and Model T).
  5. Have students identify questions about automobiles and how they are made.
  6. Allow students to find information using both traditional resources and the Internet.
  7. You may wish to have students interview older relatives or neighbors who have stories to share about automobiles.
  8. Ask students to evaluate and analyze the accuracy of information found online.
  9. Have students use the information to compose a timeline that shows the history of the automobile.
  10. Have students share the automobile research with others.

Extension Activities

  • Have students use their automobile facts to write a paragraph about how this invention affected the world. What did the invention of the car allow people to do? How did it change where people lived? Have students share their paragraphs and then have a class discussion about their ideas.
  • Have students check out the automobile license plates on the Internet. Then have them design a license plate for a car they will own in the future. When they share their plates, ask students to tell how their future license plate differs or is the same as the one in the current state or country.

Standards Correlations

    National Technology Education Standards


  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.
  • use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.

    National Social Studies Education Standards


  • identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures.
  • systematically employ processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, and searching for causality.
  • apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments.

Use the following rubric for evaluating students' ability to complete this assignment.

4 – Exemplary Understanding

  • navigates the Internet quickly and efficiently.
  • evaluates online information accurately.
  • creates a well-encyclopedias timeline about the history of the automobile.

3 – Competent Understanding

  • navigates the Internet with very few problems.
  • evaluates online information with occasional prompting.
  • develops a timeline that is accurate, but not thorough.

2 – Developing Understanding

  • can navigate within a site, once a specific site is reached.
  • needs guidance to evaluate online information.
  • creates a timeline that is short on detail or poorly organized.

1 - Emerging Understanding

  • demonstrates enthusiasm about the Internet.
  • can perform simple navigational strategies.
  • needs guidance to stay on task.
  • experiences difficulty producing a timeline.

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