What Is History?

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11908

History happened, and there is nothing you can do about it! Not true; you can learn from it, and have fun doing it! A video and games prove it, and you learn to be a historian with your own research!


United States

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


"A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do" (Woodrow Wilson).

  • What is history?
  • Why do I need to know about history?
  • Does it really repeat itself?

Look up the definition of "history" in a dictionary or at Merriam-Webster and write it down so you can refer to it as you study.

Complete the interactive below or What Is History?, found in Downloabale Resources in the right-hand sidebar, to review what you have learned.

History is important to know for many reasons. Knowing what country your ancestors came from and how they became citizens of the country you live in can be an important genealogical study for you personally. Many families research their family history so they can understand where they came from and how they fit into the family. Family trees and genealogy are a written record of your existence and past.

Knowing where you came from sometimes can assist in understanding health concerns or cultural differences. For example, in researching the history of your family, you may learn that many of your ancestors suffered from a specific disease or ailment, and this could help explain your personal health. You could also learn about your family's religious background or cultural backgrounds linked to the history of your ancestor's birthplaces. Personal history can be very important to know and understand.

The history of our world is also important to explore. By understanding our past and where we came from, our society hopes to better understand how we got to where we are now, and even decide about what might happen in the future.

Historians are people who do research and write about history. Historians write books, make movies, and create other materials to teach everyone else about history.

If you think about it, the way the world operates is dictated by the actions of the past, and the things that happen tomorrow and for future generations will all be consequences of what is happening right now. To understand what this means, we need to study history.

Think about history in this way, as written by Amanda LittleJohn: "History is the richest of all stories that can be told as it is the story of all people, in all places, at all times. It is a beautiful story. It can be a sad and shocking story, too. But it is the most exciting story there is, because we can decide what will happen in the next chapter!"

For a better understanding of why we study history, write down three facts you learn while watching Why Study History? by Joanna Hayes. Share your facts with your teacher or parent:


With the study of history comes the study of patterns as well as causes and effects. Think about what causes a war between two countries. For example, the Mexican-American War of 1846 was a result of both countries' interest in the state of Texas. Since they could not agree on who it should belong to, they went to war. Many lives were lost and history was made. Considering how many wars there have been on Earth since the beginning of time, just learning about the causes of those would be an interesting way to study history.

As you can imagine, there are countless ways to study history. You could study the history of a particular country, a particular event in a country's history, the history of a kind of food or animal, or even the history of the English language. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the study of history, and understanding where places like the United States or Europe began is important to understand how they evolved.

In the Got It? section, you will use your dissected definition to create your own word cloud, as well as explore more about why history is important to know.

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.