After exploring Timetoast a bit more, I found that there are many different examples of timelines that other people have made. You can search by topics or browse recent timelines. I would love to use this site with my students. Being able to show a variety of examples will help them understand what to do. Since there are examples already out there, I can show those instead of creating my own. It will take significantly less time for me to search for good examples than it would for me to create many of my own.
One example I found relates to the American Revolution. I would like my students to create a timeline of an important person in history, so this example would be good to show since the time period is similar. The example can be found here: http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/events-leading-to-the-revolution--13
I noticed that the person that created this timeline had the same issue with the dates that I did. This person just knew years, so he or she used January 1 for every year. When showing this example, I can point out to my students why January 1 was listed for every event. Another thing I noticed while looking at this example is that you can switch from timeline view to a text view. This shows all the events as a list. The timeline view shows some spacing between events depending on how far apart the events are.
Here is another example I found of a historical figure that one of my students could have researched: http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/life-of-samuel-adams
This example is very basic, but it would give my students another idea of what I expect to see from them.