Introduction: English Grammar Interactive Timeline


In this instructable you will find a guideline on how to create a interactive timeline for teaching English grammar.
I am currently employed at a secondary school where the tenses are often discussed and tested. Pupils sometimes have difficulties with distinguishing different tenses and its placements. In order to make it more understandable and recognizable, I have made the timeline, which is usually drawn on a whiteboard, tangible and interactive.

Materials needed:

  • Magnetic strip
  • Timber beam
  • Wooden plank
  • Very small steel plates


  • A ruler and pencil
  • Glue
  • A handsaw or preferably a sawing machine
  • Sanding paper or a sanding machine
  • A computer
  • Adobe illustrator (There is a trial version available on


15 euros (magnetic strip):

1.50 euros (small steel plates/sheets)

4.19 euros (wooden plank)


You may have to get other but similar wooden planks or other materials.

Step 1: Getting the Timber Beam and Right Size

As you can see on the pictures, I had to cut my timber beam to the right size. While looking for the appropriate size, I stuck to 2 conditions:

  1. When adding in the magnetic strip, which is 40 centimeters, the beam must be larger a size. In order words, it must be symmetric on both sides.
  2. The beam must be transportable and the use must be accessible.

Keeping these 2 conditions in mind, I have come to the following specifications:

Length: 60 centimeters

Width: 6 centimeters

Height: 6 centimeters (can be shorter or taller)

When everything is in set, you saw the beam in the appropriate size.

Step 2: Using the Milling Machine

If you use Ikea's magnetic strip you will need cut out the following length and width of your timber beam.

Length: 40 centimeters

Width: 3,5 centimeters

Height: 1,5 centimeters

I advise you to extend the length and width by 1 mm (0,1 centimeter), so you will be able to slide in the magnetic part in the timber beam.

Be careful with using the milling machine!

Step 3: Installing Magnetic Strip

The magnetic strip bought from Ikea consists of two parts.

Lay the lower part first in your milled timber beam, then put two screws and install those in your beam with your screwdriver.
Check whether they are put in correctly by turning around the beam and see if it falls down or moves.

Then add the second part of the magnetic strip. You can just grab the upper part and carefully install it by putting it on the lower point that is already in the beam.

Step 4: Cutting Wooden Plank Into Pieces & Using Sander (paper/machine)

Now on to the planks, grab your wooden plank and it cut in several pieces. It is advisable to ask your local DIY (or home depot) store to cut the plank into the pieces if you are inexperienced. Additionally, home depots usually have sawing machines, which gives better results.
These pieces should be:

Length: 10 centimeters

Width: 12 centimeters

After cutting these planks, use a sander machine or sander paper to refine the wooden planks into usable planks.

Step 5: Applying Glue & Steel Plates

When you are home, you glue the steel plates / sheets on the back of the wooden plank.

Using my example, I used the ruler to measure the length and width of my sheets and drew the outlines of where the sheets has to be glued.
Add the sheets in the middle of the wooden planks.

Length: 8 centimeters

Width: 1.5 centimeters

Step 6: Setting Up Your Website

Moving on to digital department, the two following steps require a stable internet connection.

You are not forced to choose wikispaces, but in my opinion it was is very accessible and pupils are not required to create accounts if want to view the page. Furthermore, wikispaces allows the usage of images and is free to use.

Note: You may need to adjust a few settings in wikispaces. For example, it is automatically set on private or account only. I changed the viewer ''privileged'' from account to public, so that my pupils have access to the page, while at the same time can't edit the pages.

Step 7: Creating a QR Code

Once you have created your website or set up a webpage, you have to add the link to QR code generator:

The machine generates an imagine that you can download from the website, which links to your page (in my case to wikispaces).

Do not forget to download the image (jpeg)!

Step 8: Using Adobe Illustrator

First of all, you will need to download adobe illustrator. Illustrator can be downloaded from this site:

You will be granted a 14-day trial, so spend your time wisely!

After everything is installed, watch the added youtube video if you are unfamiliar with Illustrator.

Once you have placed the QR code in Illustrator and you adjusted a few settings you can move the next step.

Step 9: Using the Laser Cutter

Watch the added youtube video first, then check your settings again. Similiarly, use the instructions manual (handleiding) to fill in the right parameters and settings.

Step 10: Labeling & Identifying Your Codes + Last Remarks

Your last step consists of labeling the right codes to the right grammatical terms. You don't want to mix up everything. What I did was I marked the wooden planks with a marker, I suggest you do something similar.


When using different kinds of wood, sizes, and even angles (my plank was slightly curved) you may eventually get different results. I experimented with different types of wood with various outcomes. So be sure to have back-up copies and possibly different wood types.

Step 11: Final Product

The end result!