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History's Mysteries K-5 Curriculum now available!

Published on Fri, 07/17/2020

History's Mysteries unit illustration showing 5 lessons: What do Historians Do? What are Push and Pull Factors? Why Do People Move? What is a Refugee? and What was the Great Migration?
2nd grade History's Mysteries unit

History's Mysteries K-5 Curriculum 

The kids loved this! They were very interested in the slideshow the entire time. The narration made it seem like a movie. They asked a lot of thoughtful questions and had lots of good discussions. I liked that we had the flexibility to make it last as long or as short as they could handle. - First Grade Teacher

For more teacher comments, and to register for a FREE workshop introducing you to the History's Mysteries website, teacher resources, and examples of how to use the curriculum in hybrid and remote learning models, read the NERC2020 workshop description for October 19 at 3p. 

NERC2020 October 19 Workshop


Veteran and award-winning educators Laurie Risler and Kelley Brown created this inquiry-based curriculum featuring primary sources from Massachusetts collections and the Library of Congress. They were inspired as they conducted professional development with elementary school teachers – over and over, K-5 teachers expressed the wish that there were an easy-to-use curriculum that would allow them to get their students excited about inquiry in social studies and civics. 

Each grade-level unit invites students to a series of inquiry activities grounded in the 2018 Massachusetts History & Social Science Framework.

  • Each lesson in a unit has a question framed as a mystery. 
  • The first mystery in each unit is an introduction to inquiry.
  • Each mystery has a clickable presentation with optional narration provided.
  • Each mystery teaches vital vocabulary.
  • Customizable handouts and other materials are provided.


Pilot tested by sixty teachers before and during the school building closures of early 2020, the History's Mysteries curriculum is adaptable for face-to-face and remote instruction.

Link to the curriculum here:

For information about professional development in using the History's Mysteries curriculum, see


Rich Cairn

Civics and Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Collaborative for Educational Services
Rich Cairn founded Emerging America in 2006, which features the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History program, "Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry." The Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse, supported by the Library of Congress TPS program promotes full inclusion of students with disabilities and English Learners in civics and social studies education.