Before you can start crafting your documentary, you need to decide what story you want to tell. You might feel stumped because you have no idea what story you would ever find interesting enough to devote all this time. Or maybe you’re stumped because you have too many stories you want to explore. Either way, you’ve come to the right place!

There is history all around us. It’s in your schools and your homes, it’s on your street and in your favorite tv shows. It’s in the words we use, the tests we take, the sports we play, and the music to which we listen. Everything in your life and that you interact with has a historical context. All you have to do is ask the right questions to find it!

The worksheets and resources on this page will help you brainstorm the history stories you most want to tell. We’ll do that by identifying some questions you have about the history of your favorite things, shaking them up by pushing  you to think about histories you might not have considered, and helping you narrow down your ideas that might work best for the particular medium of documentary film (and that might fit this year’s National History Day® theme if you and your teacher want to submit your documentary!)

Some questions to ask about the things that most excite you that might just help you find the history lurking right out of sight:

  • Who made this thing/activity/building/event? What else did they make or do?
  • Why do I do or say or think of this thing/word/activity/place the way I do?
  • How did this thing/place/event begin? How did it end?