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Student Toolkit

Learn About NHD

Welcome to National History Day in Idaho! We are an educational program that creates opportunities for students like you to engage in historical research!

Learn About the Theme

Every year, National History Day selects a theme. This year the theme is “Debate and Diplomacy in History: Success, Failures, Consequences.” Themes help historians identify connections across time periods and places. Think of the theme as a magnifying glass into a topic. The theme magnifies a specific event, person, or issue to help you focus on, learn about, and draw conclusions based on your research and investigation. Every NHD topic should connect to the theme in a meaningful way. The theme is intentionally broad so that you can explore topics from local, national, and world history topics from any historical time period.

Select Your Topic

Selecting a topic is your first and perhaps most significant step in the NHD process. You want to choose a topic that connects well to the annual theme, will hold your interest over time, has sufficient sources to research, and is historically significant.

Topic narrowing funnel worksheet – help you select a topic based on your interests.

Preliminary research for 3 topics – help you figure out which topic is right for you.

I wonder statement prompts – help you think about your topic and evaluate if your topic will hold your interest.

Research Your Topic

At its heart, NHD is a research journey. For most students, this will be the most in-depth, independent research project you have ever undertaken. Of all the aspects of the NHD process, conducting quality research will take you the most time.

It is really important to stay organized as you begin your research.

Cornell notes are a great way to keep your research notes organized

Watch this video
Google doc template

Build your background knowledge and gather information about your topic. Find answers to the who, what, when, where and why questions around your topic. Look at secondary sources like books by historians, magazines, newspapers, biographies, and documentaries.

  • Kid friendly search engines that block ads and filter inappropriate content can make researching easier and more enjoyable for younger students
  •  Try:
    • Kiddle
    • DuckDuckGo
    • Kidtopia
    • KidRex
  • Visit your local library for resources available in your area.

Understand and analyze primary sources. Historians rely on primary sources to explore their topic and to share the argument they are making. IN NHD, you will do the same thing. You will use primary sources to learn how people in your time period experienced historical events, consider different perspectives on the same events or issues, think independently and draw your own conclusions , and provide evidence for your thesis.

Primary Source Collections are a great way to get started exploring primary sources:

Analyze Your Resources

Analyzing your sources is the next step of the NHD process.

  • Lesson Modules – helps you develop the skills you need to analyze the sources you have found
  • Research Analysis Tool – the Library of Congress can help you evaluate the information you are collecting from your sources

Evaluate Your Evidence

Once you’ve identified and analyzed your sources, it’s time to evaluate the evidence you’ve collected.

Use this E.A.R. to get started evaluating your evidence.

Write Your Thesis Statement

The thesis statement guides the direction of your project. Use these guides to help develop your thesis statement.

YOUTH (4th and 5th grade)

Madlibs activity

JUNIOR/SENIOR (6th – 12th grade)

Thesis Development Worksheet 

Create Your Project

The following guide will help you with the creation of your project:

NHD Contest Rulebook

Write Your Annotated Bibliography/Process Paper

Creating an annotated bibliography lets your reader know what sources you used in the creation of your project. The annotation informs the reader how you used your sources and why they were valuable to understanding your topic.

Your process paper gives judges insight into your research process.

Participate in a Contest

Contests are what you’ve been working towards! Make sure you understand the rules and evaluation process beforehand.

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