Storyline is a game created by data enthusiasts to help people test their assumptions about historical trends.

This lesson plan features the game Storyline: Industrial Revolution, in which students  draw a line graph they believe will best represent three aspects of the Industrial Revolution from the 1800s to present. These three aspects are Agricultural Employment in the U.S., Manufacturing Employment Employment in the U.S., and the U.S. Share of Global Manufacturing.  


Ask students the following questions about the Industrial Revolution to gauge what they already know: 

What do you know about the Industrial Revolution?

When did the Industrial Revolution take place?

What effect do you think the Industrial Revolution had on the U.S. and global workforce?



  • Open BrainPOP’s Industrial Revolution topic. Read aloud the description below the movie player.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding.
  • Students open the Primary Source activity to review an article describing the plight of British factory workers, citing evidence to answer the accompanying questions.


Step 3: APPLY

Students follow these steps to play the game, Storyline: Industrial Revolution.

  1. Click PLAY to get started.
  2. Read the first quiz question and click PLAY again.
  3. Draw a line on the graph which extends across the entire X axis, that represents the best guess on how the Y axis changed over time. NOTE: You must go through the given point along the way. 
  4. Click the HINT button in the bottom right corner for additional information to generate one point along the line.
  5. When ready, click the SUBMIT button to see the graph of real data to compare with their guess.
  6. Repeat the steps above for all three game rounds.  


Step 4: REFLECT  

Prompt students with the following questions to reflect on their gameplay experience:

How accurate were your guesses to the real data about the Industrial Revolution?

What information do you think would have helped you make more accurate guesses?

Which of your three rounds was most accurate?  What do you think helped you make such a strong prediction?

Which of your graphs was most inaccurate? Why?

What questions do you have? Discuss with a classmate.



Try one or both of the following extension activities with your class:

Overlap Graphs

  • Provide students with graph paper. Instruct them to draw all three lines from the game on the same graph. Let students know that the X and Y axis for each individual graph may differ.
  • Challenge students to examine how the graphs may influence one another. 
  • Ask students to consider how adding information from each graph helps to create a more complete picture of how the Industrial Revolution impacted the U.S. and Global workforce.

Build Your Own Storyline

  • Students identify a topic or trend of interest, and research it to identify changes over time. 
  • Students then select a time frame from their data to highlight in a graph.
  • Print or draw (with a permanent marker) students’ storyline graphs on a transparency.
  • On a separate transparency, print or draw blank graphs with the proper axis for students’ storyline graphs.
  • Display the blank graphs around the room and have students use a dry erase marker to make their guess in the same way as the online game.
  • Once all students make their guesses, overlay the answer keys (the graphs created by the students who researched that topic) to compare.
  • Ask students: What is something you learned from researching your topic? What is something you learned from a classmate’s topic? 

More Storyline Games

For continued exploration of data and graphs explore these Storyline games:

Storyline: Music Recording Technology

Storyline: Oil Production