History Skill Builders

History is so much more than memorizing names and dates so stop teaching it that way. Focus on historical thinking skills to make your students successful in the study of history.

What are the historical thinking skills?

Yes, history does have its own thinking skills yet history curriculums ignore them when they create resources for teachers. A great history curriculum developer would actually focus on the skills:

  • chronology
  • historical comprehension
  • analysis
  • interpretation
  • research
  • decision-making
  • timeline
  • periodization
  • data

Teaching these skills is easier with my History Skill Builders series. Buy them individually to work on each skill for mastery or get the bundle and mix them up keep students on their toes.

The Skills


Being able to read or create a timeline is a simple skill and maybe a perfect way to introduce your students to history skills. Students are given four prompts that they must write in order on the timeline. Simple!


Add chronology, the second most common and easiest history skill. Focusing on just putting dates in order from oldest to youngest, this resource uses more challenging dates as it progresses. At the bottom of the page there is a small section that introduces students to measurement of time vocabulary.

Students will learn the difference between a decade, a century, a millenium, and the like.


The final of the top three history skills that students need to master is periodization. Think Ancient World, Medieval, Renaissance – those are all examples of periodization. A more micro level periodization is in American history: Colonial, Revolution, Early Republic, Civil War.

Introduce students to important periodization names that they will be expected to know.

Historical documents

Working with historical documents is an important aspect of being a historian and students need to know the difference between a primary history resource and a secondary one.

From a selection of prompts students will select the primary resources. Easy as that!

To truly assess their ability to differentiate primary and secondary history sources, students are given a few opportunities to pretend they are research historical figures before they select the different sources they could use.


Historical data is designed for elementary students who are not versed in reading historical data but older students who have a limited background in how to read data will benefit.

Historians use data all the time. Knowing how to read graphs and numbers in history is also a great way to practice essential math skills.


If students don’t understand the words in a history text they won’t succeed. History has its own jargon and uses common words in ways that many students won’t understand without instruction.

The left? The right? Not just directions, they are descriptors of political leanings.

What exactly does prehistoric mean? Or what is a city-state? These are just a few examples of words students need to know. Work on historical vocabulary from a young age to give students an opportunity for big success later.

World History Periodization

There is a whole world that doesn’t use the same time measurement that America or Europe does. Periodization can be applied at both the macro and micro level. Challenge your students to see if they can work on periodization around the world. (Pss! They can. It’s easy)

How to use these in the classroom

I designed these to be completed quickly making them perfect for morning work or use them as a transition piece to your history lesson.

Create history centers a few times a year and rotate students through all seven skills.

Make a substitute packet.

If your school is going to close abruptly during coronavirus, print these for students to work on at home. These can absolutely be independent work.

If a few of these would work in your classroom, get the bundle and save. 30% off when you buy the bundle!


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