23/02/2010 15:10 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Tip Of The Day: A Cool Tool For School

You'll have to trust me on this one, because I'm going to introduce you to an educational aid that sounds a bit dry at first, but once you take a look at it you'll be hooked. And if you have a school-age child, be sure to bookmark it, because it has the potential to help with many future homework projects.

This is what I'm talking about. The British Library has just launched a new interactive, animated timeline, so that pupils, teachers and anybody who likes that sort of thing can explore 800 years of history at the click of a mouse button. This video shows it in action:

It's a decade-by-decade online tool covering the 1200s to the 2000s, allowing users to scroll back and forth through the decades pulling up digital images or audio from each decade. It includes everything from illuminated manuscripts to newspaper front pages, and the layout keeps it easily comprehensible.

Highlights include:

  • Records of major events – from the Black Death and the Great Fire to the French Revolution and the abolition of the slave trade.
  • Printed matter - the first English printed book, the first cookery manuscript, the first English bible and the first postage stamp.
  • Public Life - posters, advertisements and illustrations documenting everything from public executions and magic shows to plague cures and séances.
  • Manuscripts – written by great figures in history including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Captain Cook, Beethoven, Wordsworth, Abolitionists, Florence Nightingale and Dickens.

As well as the more well-known collections items, the timeline also includes some of the Library's more unusual sources. Items such as a medieval Valentine's letter (1477); a 15th century recipe for custard (1440); a Renaissance anatomy book (1543); a royal proclamation announcing England's first national lottery (1567); a 17th century dictionary of criminal slang (1674); a newspaper reporting the Great Fire of London (1666); a Victorian 'freakshow' poster advertising a 'living mermaid' (1886); and a Make Do and Mend' ration tips pamphlet (1943).

You can access the British Library interactive timeline at this link