Curriculum and Timeline

History Day curriculum materials include a variety of tools for teachers to use to support classroom instruction. These materials are sorted chronologically, in order of how History Day is usually implemented in the classroom.


History Day is designed for teachers to adapt in their classrooms.

Below we have suggested a broad timeline for completing the History Day program, but there is no "right" way to implementing the project in your classroom. You can also look at sample timelines from our Master Teacher Network.

  • September/October​: Introduce History Day to your students. Begin discussing the theme, and topics students may be interested in. Introduce primary and secondary sources. You may ask students to complete a topic proposal, or to sign an agreement between group members and parents.
  • November/December: Have students choose a topic, and begin their secondary source research. Once they've narrowed their topic, encourage them to begin researching primary sources.
  • December/January: Encourage students to attend a Hullabaloo for research and project help. Prepare for the participation survey by getting a sense of how many projects your school has in each category/division. Discuss and combine project totals with other History Day teachers in your school. The participation  survey will be emailed in early December and due in early January.
  • January: Complete the participation and receive your school's allotments for how many projects may advance to Regional competitions. Encourage students to complete their research.
  • February: Help your students transition from research to project construction. Place emphasis on the quality of research, analysis, and content in a project. Hold a school contest/fair at minimum three weeks prior to your Regional event.
  • March/April/May/June: History Day contest season. Regionals and off-site Paper judging take place in March, State feedback sessions are in April, and State History Day is held at the end of April or beginning of May. The National Contest takes place at the University of Maryland, College Park in mid-June.

Master Teacher Sample Timelines


Project framework and introduction

These tools can help you introduce students to History Day.

Watch video History Day Promo on Vimeo3 minute program video overviewVideo
Teacher FrameworkComplete set of lessons and worksheets for teachersWebpage
Master Teacher NetworkVeteran teachers share their project resourcesWebpage
NHD Contest Rulebook (PDF)Contest rulebook outlining requirements for all levels of programPDF
Summary of Rulebook changesSummary of changes effective as of July 2021PDF
Watch Exploring NHD for Students on Vimeo11 minute introduction to History Day program for studentsVideo
Introducing History Day Student Guide 2024Student handbook covering all aspects of programGoogle Doc   
Goal Setting and Progress TrackingWorksheet for tracking History Day project progressPDF   
Google Doc
EL Curriculum GuideText set resources that break down the research process for English Language LearnersWebpage

Parent communication

Communicating with parents is an important step in keeping students involved with History Day. These resources can help you determine the best way to keep parents in the loop.

Parent Letters (Multiple Languages)Pre-drafted letters to send directly to parentsPDF

Contracts and working in a group

Help students determine the best way for them to work on History Day - individually or as a group.

Working in a Group Reflection (PDF)Worksheet excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
Group Contract SampleWorksheet excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF   
Google Doc
Distance Learning Group ContractSample worksheet for group workPDF   
Google Doc
Ship on the Sea (PDF)Worksheet excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
Individual or Group? (PDF)Worksheet excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
Group Roles and GoalsGroup work worksheetPDF   
Google Doc

Topic selection

These are resources that may help students determine the best topic for their project.

Topic Narrowing Presentation (Google Slides)Google presentation on strategies for selecting a narrow topicGoogle Slides
Topic Narrowing Presentation VideoVideo describing topic narrowing strategiesVideo
Topic Narrowing Funnel (PDF)Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student GuideGoogle Doc   
Selecting a Topic Overview (PDF)Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student GuidePDF
Topic Idea Sites Presentation (PDF)Google Presentation on brainstorming topic ideasPDF
Picking a Topic Weebly!Interactive website with topic ideasWebpage
MN Library GuidesMN-based topic ideas and research resourcesWebpage
Novice Topic List (PDF)Student-friendly topics, organized by categoryPDF
What Makes a Good Topic?Worksheet to help students pick topicsPDF   
Google Doc


Resources for this year's theme.

MN Theme Sheet (PDF)One page overview on the theme from Minnesota History DayPDF
MN Theme Presentation VideoVideo presentation of this year's theme PowerPointVideo
MN Theme PowerPointRequest for PowerPoint slides of MN Theme PresentationGoogle Form
Theme Guided QuestionsGuided questions to follow along with MN theme sheetPDF   
Google Doc
NHD Theme Sheet (PDF)Theme sheet overview from National History DayPDF
NHD Theme Book (PDF)Theme resources from National History DayPDF
NHD Theme VideoTheme video from National History DayVideo
Theme Graphic OrganizerWeaving the History Day theme in a projectPDF   
Google Doc
Theme Graphic Organizer Worksheet to work on discovering a topic and identifying the theme connectionPDF   
Google Doc

Research tools

Helpful resources as students begin researching their topic.

Research Questions 101 PresentationPowerPoint presentation on understanding research questions and pre-researchGoogle Slides
Research Questions 101 Video Video about how to get started on developing research questionsVideo
Research Questions 101 ChecklistChecklist handout to understand research questionsPDF
Research Questions Project HandoutHandout to go along with Research Questions 101 videoPDF   
Google Doc
Research Questions Brainstorming GuideHandout to go along with Research Questions 101 VideoPDF   
Google Doc
National Archives Source Analysis WorksheetsSource activity from the National ArchivesWebpage
Research Questions (PDF)Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student GuidePDF
Thinking Like an Historian Chart (PDF)Chart to brainstorm different ways to think about your topicPDF
Research QuestionsWorksheet with questions to think about while starting researchPDF   
Google Doc
Primary and Secondary Sources and BrainstormExcerpt from Student Research GuidePDF   
Google Doc
Student Research Workbook 2024 (Complete)Workbook that can guide students through the History Day research processPDF   
*Editable Google Docs linked within PDF
Library of Congress Written Analysis WorksheetsWorksheets that help determine the best parts of a resourcePDF   
PDF (Novice level)
Illustration and Media BrainstormExcerpt from Student Research GuidePDF   
Google Doc
Watch video Primary vs. Secondary Sources on VimeoVideo on the differences between primary and secondary sourcesVideo
Watch video Using InterLibrary Loan on VimeoVideo on how InterLibrary Loan worksVideo
Watch video Using Wilson Library on YouTubeVideo on navigating Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campusVideo
Research Tracking TemplateWorksheet to track resourcesPDF
Google Doc
NHD and AI Guidance (PDF)Handout on using AI directly from National History DayPDF

Research org and notetaking

Materials that students may use to keep track of their research and notes.

Index Cards Overview (PDF)Excerpt from Student Research WorkbookPDF
Cornell Notes Overview and Work Pages (PDF)Excerpt from Student Research WorkbookPDF
Source Cards Worksheets (PDF)Excerpt from Student Research WorkbookPDF

Thesis statements

Resources available about learning what thesis statements are and how to write one.

Original Thesis Statement WorksheetOriginal thesis statement worksheet from Teacher FrameworkPDF   
Google Doc
Shortened Thesis Statement WorksheetExcerpt from Student Research GuidePDF   
Google Doc
Mad Libs Thesis StatementFill-in-the blank thesis statement worksheetPDF   
Google Doc
Thesis Statement Presentation (Google Doc)View-only version of the thesis statement presentationGoogle Doc
Thesis Statement Presentation VideoVideo presentation of the Thesis Statement presentation, in three partsVideo
Thesis Comparisons (PDF)Examples of good, better, and best thesis statementsPDF
Thesis Statement Peer ReviewActivity to work with others on thesis statementsPDF
Google Doc

Historical context

Materials to helps students determine the scope of their project.

Historical Context Map (PDF)Graphic organizer showing how to determine historical contextPDF
Historical Context Worksheet (PDF)Worksheet to help determine historical contextPDF

Project organization

Mapping out a History Day project, the best ways to organize information.

Project Organization Presentation (Google Slides) View-only presentation on best practices for organizing project informationGoogle Slides
Project Organization VideoVideo presentation on different project organization tipsVideo
Sections of a project (PDF)Excerpt from Student Research GuidePDF
Google Doc
Project Organization sentence starters (PDF)Sentence starters for each project sectionPDF

Writing project text

Teaching students how to turn their notes into text.

Write Your Text Worksheet (PDF)Excerpt from Student Research GuidePDF
Project Sections: Write it out!Excerpt from Student Research GuidePDF   
Google Doc
Student Voice 101A handout and corresponding video define and explain what "student voice" means in a projectPDF   
Student Voice WorksheetWorksheet helping students identify student voicePDF
Google Doc

Annotated bibliographies

History Day students may use MLA or Chicago citation styles. All categories are required to include an annotated bibliography.

Citation/Credit Handout (PDF)Excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
Citation GuideOne page handout on MLA vs. Chicago/Turabian citation stylesPDF
Watch video Credits, Citations, and Caption on VimeoVideo overview on the difference between captions and citations ruleVideo
Bibliographies Made Easy (PDF)Excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
Sample Annotated Bibliography (PDF)Excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF
All About Annotations (PDF)Excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF

Process papers

Process Papers are required for all categories and must contain the same elements.

Process Paper Overview (PDF)Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student GuidePDF
Sample Process Paper (PDF)Excerpt from Teacher FrameworkPDF

Category overview and samples

Learn about each category and view sample projects.

Category Overview Presentation (Google Slides)View-only presentation about the elements of each project categoryGoogle Slides
Category Overview VideoVideo of Category Overview presentationVideo
Sources and Evidence (Google Slides)View-only presentation on how to use evidence in each project categoryGoogle Slides
Sources and Evidence video seriesVideo series breaking down how to use evidence in each category based on the presentationIntroduction Video,   
Exhibit, Documentary, Performance, Paper, Website
NHD Category OverviewNational History Day website overview on the different categoriesWebpage
Picking a Category (PDF)Worksheet to help determine which category to pickPDF
Project Review ChecklistWorksheet to evaluate aspects of projectPDF
Google Doc
Minnesota Sample Projects Sample projects from former Minnesota studentsWebpage
National Sample ProjectsSample projects from former National History Day winnersWebpage


Materials for students creating History Day Documentaries.

Documentary-specific rules (PDF)Excerpt from NHD RulebookPDF
Documentary rule summary (PDF)Overview of Documentary categoryPDF
Documentary evaluation form (PDF)Judge evaluation for Documentary projectsPDF
Documentary tips (PDF)Tips for making a quality DocumentaryPDF
Documentary organization (PDF)Organizing a Documentary projectPDF
"Tootsie Roll" planning worksheetBlank example of organizing a Documentary and matching worksheetPDF   
Google Doc
Documentary storyboard templateWorksheet for creating a storyboardPDF   
Google Doc
Laura Zeccardi sample storyboardSample example of completed storyboardPDF
Sample Documentary ProjectsFormer MN student Documentary projectsWebpage


Materials for students creating History Day Exhibit Boards.

Exhibit-specific rules (PDF)Excerpt from NHD RulebookPDF
Exhibit rule summary (PDF)Summary of Exhibit requirementsPDF
Exhibit judge evaluation form (PDF)Judge evaluation form for Exhibit projectsPDF
Blank and Guided Exhibit MapBlank map of Exhibit boardPDF   
Google Doc
Effective Exhibit elements (PDF)Best practices for designing an ExhibitPDF
Wood-frame building instructions (PDF)Instructions for building a wood-frame Exhibit board PDF
Sample Exhibit projects Former MN student Exhibit projectsWebpage
Optional: Large format Exhibit boardsWebsite to purchase large Exhibit boards in bulkWebpage
Sample project progressionProgression of an Exhibit board from a school contest to National History DayWebpage


Materials for students writing History Day Papers.

Paper-specific rules (PDF)Excerpt from NHD RulebookPDF
Paper rule summary (PDF)Overview of Paper categoryPDF
Paper evaluation form (PDF)Judge evaluation form for PapersPDF
MN Paper contest informationOff-site Paper contest overviewWebpage
Paper organization (PDF)Best practices for organizing PaperPDF
Sample PapersFormer MN student Paper examplesWebpage


Materials for students creating History Day Performances.

Performance-specific rules (PDF)Excerpt from NHD Rulebook PDF
Performance rule summary (PDF)Overview of Performance categoryPDF
Performance evaluation form (PDF)Judge evaluation form for PerformancesPDF
Performance organization (PDF)Project organization for PerformancesPDF
Performance planning outlineWorksheet for outlining PerformancePDF   
Google Doc
Performance Idea MapWorksheet for outlining Performance informationPDF   
Google Doc
Performance Scene Selection (PDF)Scene-planning for PerformancePDF
Sample Performance Script (PDF)Example of a written Performance outline and scriptPDF
Watch "Backdrops Made Easy" on VimeoSee an example of an easy backdropVideo
Backdrop Instructions (PDF)Guide for building Performance backdropPDF
Sample PerformancesFormer MN student Performance projectsWebpage


Materials for students creating History Day Websites.

Website-specific rules (PDF)Excerpt from NHD RulebookPDF
Website rule summary (PDF)Summary of Website rulesPDF
Website tips for teachers (PDF)List of tips for teachers with website studentsPDF
Website judge evaluation form (PDF)Judge evaluation form for Website projectsPDF
Complete Website workbookGeneral Website workbookPDF   
Google Doc
Website planning pagesBlank and guided worksheet for Website pagesPDF   
Google Doc
Sample WebsitesFormer MN student examples of WebsitesWebpage
NHDWebCentral helpNHD resources for NHDWebCentral helpWebpage