What is History? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

All of us have studied history at one point in our lives, but have you ever sat down and thought about what history actually is? Come and explore the definition of history, as well as how and why we study it.

What is History?

Your first birthday. Your first day of school. The time you learned to ride a bike. These are all moments in the history of your life. The second that something is in the past, it becomes part of history. The past is made up of all the time and events that have already gone by.

Think of all of the things that have happened in the past as pages in a book. These pages are grouped into chapters based on when and where they took place. All of these chapters are put together into a book of history. Sometimes, we study history's earlier chapters, like when we study cavemen or dinosaurs. Sometimes, we study more recent chapters of history, like the attacks of September 11th or the election of President Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States. Today, we are continuing to write the pages that will go into the newest chapters into the book of history.

Cavemen are a part of our world history

There are different types of history that you can study in school. U.S. History is all about the history of the United States of America, such as Native American times, colonization or the Civil War. World History is where you can learn more about the cultures of other countries, as well as what has happened in their pasts, like the building of Egyptian pyramids or the Olympics in Ancient Greece. Another type of history is Art History where you will study different paintings, sculpture, pottery and other forms of art from other time periods in order to learn more about the state of the world at that time.

Studying History

So, if something happened hundreds, thousands, millions or even billions of years ago, how can we study it? That is where historians come into play. They are experts in history and will often specialize in a certain time period or geographical location. It is their job to research artifacts, like pieces of writing or art, in order to learn more about that time or place.

The most important part of a historian's job is to make sure that their story is accurate, or correct. Sometimes, they will have to make an inference based on the evidence that they are researching. This is why it is important that historians chronicle their findings, or make detailed and factual recordings, so that future historians can build upon their research.

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