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.
- Project framework and introduction
- Parent communication
- Contracts and working in a group
- Topic selection
- Research tools
- Research organization and notetaking
- Thesis statements
- Historical context
- Project organization
- Writing project text
- Bibliographies and citations
- Process papers
- Category overview and samples
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
- Chosen Valley Junior/Senior High School, Late January-March
- Mankato West High School, October-February
- Salk Middle School, November-March
- Wayzata West Middle School, January-March
- St. Jude Catholic School, November-February
Project framework and introduction
These tools can help you introduce students to History Day.
|Watch video History Day Promo on Vimeo||3 minute program video overview||Video|
|Teacher Framework||Complete set of lessons and worksheets for teachers||Webpage|
|Master Teacher Network||Veteran teachers share their project resources||Webpage|
|NHD Contest Rulebook (PDF)||Contest rulebook outlining requirements for all levels of program|
|Summary of Rulebook changes||Summary of changes effective as of July 2021|
|Watch Exploring NHD for Students on Vimeo||11 minute introduction to History Day program for students||Video|
|Introducing History Day Student Guide 2024||Student handbook covering all aspects of program||Google Doc |
|Goal Setting and Progress Tracking||Worksheet for tracking History Day project progress||PDF |
|EL Curriculum Guide||Text set resources that break down the research process for English Language Learners||Webpage|
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 parents|
|Parent Communication Reminders (PDF)||Best practices for communicating with parents about History Day|
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 Framework|
|Group Contract Sample||Worksheet excerpt from Teacher Framework||PDF |
|Distance Learning Group Contract||Sample worksheet for group work||PDF |
|Ship on the Sea (PDF)||Worksheet excerpt from Teacher Framework|
|Individual or Group? (PDF)||Worksheet excerpt from Teacher Framework|
|Group Roles and Goals||Group work worksheet||PDF |
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 topic||Google Slides|
|Topic Narrowing Presentation Video||Video describing topic narrowing strategies||Video|
|Topic Narrowing Funnel (PDF)||Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student Guide||Google Doc |
|Selecting a Topic Overview (PDF)||Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student Guide|
|Topic Idea Sites Presentation (PDF)||Google Presentation on brainstorming topic ideas|
|Picking a Topic Weebly!||Interactive website with topic ideas||Webpage|
|MN Library Guides||MN-based topic ideas and research resources||Webpage|
|Novice Topic List (PDF)||Student-friendly topics, organized by category|
|What Makes a Good Topic?||Worksheet to help students pick topics||PDF |
Resources for this year's theme.
|MN Theme Sheet (PDF)||One page overview on the theme from Minnesota History Day|
|MN Theme Presentation Video||Video presentation of this year's theme PowerPoint||Video|
|MN Theme PowerPoint||Request for PowerPoint slides of MN Theme Presentation||Google Form|
|Theme Guided Questions||Guided questions to follow along with MN theme sheet||PDF |
|NHD Theme Sheet (PDF)||Theme sheet overview from National History Day|
|NHD Theme Book (PDF)||Theme resources from National History Day|
|NHD Theme Video||Theme video from National History Day||Video|
|Theme Graphic Organizer||Weaving the History Day theme in a project||PDF |
|Theme Graphic Organizer||Worksheet to work on discovering a topic and identifying the theme connection||PDF |
Helpful resources as students begin researching their topic.
|Research Questions 101 Presentation||PowerPoint presentation on understanding research questions and pre-research||Google Slides|
|Research Questions 101 Video||Video about how to get started on developing research questions||Video|
|Research Questions 101 Checklist||Checklist handout to understand research questions|
|Research Questions Project Handout||Handout to go along with Research Questions 101 video||PDF |
|Research Questions Brainstorming Guide||Handout to go along with Research Questions 101 Video||PDF |
|National Archives Source Analysis Worksheets||Source activity from the National Archives||Webpage|
|Research Questions (PDF)||Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student Guide|
|Thinking Like an Historian Chart (PDF)||Chart to brainstorm different ways to think about your topic|
|Research Questions||Worksheet with questions to think about while starting research||PDF |
|Primary and Secondary Sources and Brainstorm||Excerpt from Student Research Guide||PDF |
|Student Research Workbook 2024 (Complete)||Workbook that can guide students through the History Day research process||PDF |
*Editable Google Docs linked within PDF
|Library of Congress Written Analysis Worksheets||Worksheets that help determine the best parts of a resource||PDF |
PDF (Novice level)
|Illustration and Media Brainstorm||Excerpt from Student Research Guide||PDF |
|Watch video Primary vs. Secondary Sources on Vimeo||Video on the differences between primary and secondary sources||Video|
|Watch video Using InterLibrary Loan on Vimeo||Video on how InterLibrary Loan works||Video|
|Watch video Using Wilson Library on YouTube||Video on navigating Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus||Video|
|Research Tracking Template||Worksheet to track resources||PDF|
|NHD and AI Guidance (PDF)||Handout on using AI directly from National History Day|
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 Workbook|
|Cornell Notes Overview and Work Pages (PDF)||Excerpt from Student Research Workbook|
|Source Cards Worksheets (PDF)||Excerpt from Student Research Workbook|
Resources available about learning what thesis statements are and how to write one.
|Original Thesis Statement Worksheet||Original thesis statement worksheet from Teacher Framework||PDF |
|Shortened Thesis Statement Worksheet||Excerpt from Student Research Guide||PDF |
|Mad Libs Thesis Statement||Fill-in-the blank thesis statement worksheet||PDF |
|Thesis Statement Presentation (Google Doc)||View-only version of the thesis statement presentation||Google Doc|
|Thesis Statement Presentation Video||Video presentation of the Thesis Statement presentation, in three parts||Video|
|Thesis Comparisons (PDF)||Examples of good, better, and best thesis statements|
|Thesis Statement Peer Review||Activity to work with others on thesis statements||PDF|
Materials to helps students determine the scope of their project.
|Historical Context Map (PDF)||Graphic organizer showing how to determine historical context|
|Historical Context Worksheet (PDF)||Worksheet to help determine historical context|
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 information||Google Slides|
|Project Organization Video||Video presentation on different project organization tips||Video|
|Sections of a project (PDF)||Excerpt from Student Research Guide||PDF|
|Project Organization sentence starters (PDF)||Sentence starters for each project section|
Writing project text
Teaching students how to turn their notes into text.
|Write Your Text Worksheet (PDF)||Excerpt from Student Research Guide|
|Project Sections: Write it out!||Excerpt from Student Research Guide||PDF |
|Student Voice 101||A handout and corresponding video define and explain what "student voice" means in a project||PDF |
|Student Voice Worksheet||Worksheet helping students identify student voice||PDF|
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 Framework|
|Citation Guide||One page handout on MLA vs. Chicago/Turabian citation styles|
|Watch video Credits, Citations, and Caption on Vimeo||Video overview on the difference between captions and citations rule||Video|
|Bibliographies Made Easy (PDF)||Excerpt from Teacher Framework|
|Sample Annotated Bibliography (PDF)||Excerpt from Teacher Framework|
|All About Annotations (PDF)||Excerpt from Teacher Framework|
Process Papers are required for all categories and must contain the same elements.
|Process Paper Overview (PDF)||Excerpt from Introducing History Day Student Guide|
|Sample Process Paper (PDF)||Excerpt from Teacher Framework|
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 category||Google Slides|
|Category Overview Video||Video of Category Overview presentation||Video|
|Sources and Evidence (Google Slides)||View-only presentation on how to use evidence in each project category||Google Slides|
|Sources and Evidence video series||Video series breaking down how to use evidence in each category based on the presentation||Introduction Video |
Exhibit, Documentary, Performance, Paper, Website
|NHD Category Overview||National History Day website overview on the different categories||Webpage|
|Picking a Category (PDF)||Worksheet to help determine which category to pick|
|Project Review Checklist||Worksheet to evaluate aspects of project||PDF|
|Minnesota Sample Projects||Sample projects from former Minnesota students||Webpage|
|National Sample Projects||Sample projects from former National History Day winners||Webpage|
Materials for students creating History Day Documentaries.
|Documentary-specific rules (PDF)||Excerpt from NHD Rulebook|
|Documentary rule summary (PDF)||Overview of Documentary category|
|Documentary evaluation form (PDF)||Judge evaluation for Documentary projects|
|Documentary tips (PDF)||Tips for making a quality Documentary|
|Documentary organization (PDF)||Organizing a Documentary project|
|"Tootsie Roll" planning worksheet||Blank example of organizing a Documentary and matching worksheet||PDF |
|Documentary storyboard template||Worksheet for creating a storyboard||PDF |
|Laura Zeccardi sample storyboard||Sample example of completed storyboard|
|Sample Documentary Projects||Former MN student Documentary projects||Webpage|
Materials for students creating History Day Exhibit Boards.
|Exhibit-specific rules (PDF)||Excerpt from NHD Rulebook|
|Exhibit rule summary (PDF)||Summary of Exhibit requirements|
|Exhibit judge evaluation form (PDF)||Judge evaluation form for Exhibit projects|
|Blank and Guided Exhibit Map||Blank map of Exhibit board||PDF |
|Effective Exhibit elements (PDF)||Best practices for designing an Exhibit|
|Wood-frame building instructions (PDF)||Instructions for building a wood-frame Exhibit board|
|Sample Exhibit projects||Former MN student Exhibit projects||Webpage|
|Optional: Large format Exhibit boards||Website to purchase large Exhibit boards in bulk||Webpage|
|Sample project progression||Progression of an Exhibit board from a school contest to National History Day||Webpage|
Materials for students writing History Day Papers.
|Paper-specific rules (PDF)||Excerpt from NHD Rulebook|
|Paper rule summary (PDF)||Overview of Paper category|
|Paper evaluation form (PDF)||Judge evaluation form for Papers|
|MN Paper contest information||Off-site Paper contest overview||Webpage|
|Paper organization (PDF)||Best practices for organizing Paper|
|Sample Papers||Former MN student Paper examples||Webpage|
Materials for students creating History Day Performances.
|Performance-specific rules (PDF)||Excerpt from NHD Rulebook|
|Performance rule summary (PDF)||Overview of Performance category|
|Performance evaluation form (PDF)||Judge evaluation form for Performances|
|Performance organization (PDF)||Project organization for Performances|
|Performance planning outline||Worksheet for outlining Performance||PDF |
|Performance Idea Map||Worksheet for outlining Performance information||PDF |
|Performance Scene Selection (PDF)||Scene-planning for Performance|
|Sample Performance Script (PDF)||Example of a written Performance outline and script|
|Watch "Backdrops Made Easy" on Vimeo||See an example of an easy backdrop||Video|
|Backdrop Instructions (PDF)||Guide for building Performance backdrop|
|Sample Performances||Former MN student Performance projects||Webpage|
Materials for students creating History Day Websites.
|Website-specific rules (PDF)||Excerpt from NHD Rulebook|
|Website rule summary (PDF)||Summary of Website rules|
|Website tips for teachers (PDF)||List of tips for website students|
|Website judge evaluation form (PDF)||Judge evaluation form for Website projects|
|Complete Website workbook||General Website workbook||PDF |
|Website planning pages||Blank and guided worksheet for Website pages||PDF |
|Sample Websites||Former MN student examples of Websites||Webpage|
|NHDWebCentral help||NHD resources for NHDWebCentral help||Webpage|