Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In these Time Zone X game lesson ideas, which are adaptable for grades 4-12, students use BrainPOP resources (including an interactive timeline game) to explore standards-based content.

Students will:

  1. Sort topic-related events in chronological order using an interactive timeline tool.
  2. Explain the relationships between events on the timeline.


This page provides lesson ideas for BrainPOP’s Time Zone X game. The ideas are adaptable for any subject area and any grade level (K-12).

We recommend pairing the game with the movies related to the topic students are learning about. (These are indicated at the bottom of the game page.) Begin by showing at least one of the related movie topics to students as part of your instruction: this will set the curricular context for the game. Then allow students to explore the concepts through Time Zone X.

Students will be exposed to more related topics during game play, and will be challenged to think about where an event fits into the ‘big picture’. You can then bring in other BrainPOP movie topics which are relevant to the unit of study to reinforce what students have been learning through game play.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. There are many ways you can incorporate the Time Zone X game into your instruction. Begin by showing at least one of the related movie topics to students as part of your instruction to set the curricular context for the game. You can then:

    • Introduce Time Zone X for the first time by allowing students to explore the game and draw their own conclusions about how it works. The initial animation introduces students to the concept of time being deconstructed. Allow students to view the animation and explore the game independently or with a partner to determine the goal of the game and basics of game play. If necessary, draw students’ attention to the flux meter and have them experiment to see what causes it to go lower or higher, and how that impacts game play. After 5-10 minutes of play, ask students to share their strategies for keeping the flux meter full and earning more points in the game.
    • Use Time Zone X prior to your lesson to build and assess background knowledge. You may want to use the game before introducing a specific curricular topic to see what students already know and get them thinking about the interconnectedness of events. Pair students up to play so they can talk about their choices and strategies, and observe your students as they play in order to identify misconceptions and other important teaching points to follow up on later.
    • Play Time Zone X as part of your instruction, in either a whole group or small group setting. Time Zone X can be a fantastic teaching tool: simply project the game on your interactive whiteboard, and model your thinking for students as you play the game. Have student volunteers share their ideas and discuss where they think the cards belong and why.
    • Use Time Zone X as a springboard for discussion about topic histories. The game is designed to help students think holistically and consider the interrelatedness of the topics they’re studying. You may want to ask students: Why do you think [specific card] was included in the deck? How does it relate to the topic you’re studying? What strategies did you use when deciding where to place each event? Which events were the most difficult to place and why? Here are some additional discussion starters for using Time Zone X for art & music, ELA, health, math science, and social studies.
    • Use Time Zone X to help students link together different kinds of events and analyze them. When students place a second deck of cards in the context of the first deck they have already placed (for example, adding in cards about the Incas to a deck of cards about the Aztec), students are immediately challenged to think more broadly about the historical context (How do major events in the Inca civilization relate to what was happening in the Aztec civilization?) Encourage students to think about the impact of other card decks, and consider any cause/effect relationships.
    • Try using Time Zone X as an assessment tool. You can substitute the Time Zone X game for the movie topic quiz. Or use the quiz as a pre-assessment to see what students already know, and allow students to play the Time Zone X game after instruction to see what they’ve learned.
    • Incorporate Time Zone X as a cooperative learning activity. For assessment purposes, Time Zone X works best as an independent learning tool, but it’s also useful as a way to encourage students to talk about their thinking. Invite students to work collaboratively with a partner or group and explain their thinking as they select where to place each event on the timeline.
    • Have students play Time Zone X multiple times to collect more artifacts and try to beat their personal best score. Each time a player collects an artifact for a topic, it means they’ve placed all the cards within that deck and have demonstrated mastery of the sequence of events. So, challenge students to collect as many artifacts as they can, thereby earning as many points as possible.
    • Challenge students to create their own Time Zone X game. Provide the topic for students and allow them to create a paper prototype of the game using their own cards they created with unlined paper or construction paper. After the game is ready, they can trade with classmates and practice playing.