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History Detectives

from History San Jose

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History San José guides students as they do “the work” of history by actively inspecting primary sources from History San José’s Collection Center. Students will conduct important research and investigate the mystery behind a 19th-century painting of a boy. Students will formulate questions, identify historical materials, evaluate the data, and report their findings. Through this inquiry-based exercise, they will hone important critical thinking skills and learn that solving the mysteries of the past requires certain procedures and tons of imagination.

Program Rating

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About This Program


Point to Point: $100.00
Point to Point Premium: $95.00


40 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Minimum participants:

1 student

Maximum participants:

35 students

Primary Disciplines

Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, etc...)

Booking Information

Will be in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

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Provider's Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel or reschedule, please contact the School Programs Coordinator at as soon as possible. We will do our best to reschedule your reservation. If you need to cancel and have paid in full, we will refund everything except the non-refundable deposit(s).

About This Provider

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History San Jose

San Jose, CA
United States

History San José’s (HSJ) activities began in 1949 following the centennial celebration of the California Gold Rush and statehood. Known initially as the Historical Museum of San José and managed by the City of San José, History San José was incorporated with its current name as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 1998. Over the decades, History San José has grown to include three sites: History Park, the Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site, and the Collection Center/Research Library & Archives that houses the largest collection of regional artifacts in California. Over 120,000 visitors attend exhibits and events at these sites each year.

 HSJ is very proud of its standards-based school programs that have offered award-winning hands-on educational opportunities for more than 20 years. Students visit historical buildings and exhibits and participate in hands-on activities that meet the History-Social Science and Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools. These programs take place at both History Park and at the Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site. Over 25,000 students and teachers from more than 200 schools, take part in these educational programs each year. 

Education at History San Jose

Program Details


1. Introduction to the program
2. Observation and discussion of primary source.
3. Begin presentation of the mystery, which includes primary sources and analytical skills.
4. Time is allowed for questions and answers.


Students will:
a. Inspect artifacts and documents related to the life of a young boy in the late 19th
century to hone their research skills.
a. Make inferences about how primary sources connect to one another.
b. Evaluate the impact that daily life has on historical interpretations of
the past.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Common Core Standards (3-5)
Reading Standards for Informational Text (3-5)
Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

Writing Standards (3-5)
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Speaking and Listening Standards (3-5)
Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

Common Core Standards (8)
Writing Standards (8)
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Speaking and Listening Standards (8)
Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others' questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.

State Standards

California (3-5)
Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills (3-5)
Chronological and Spatial Thinking
3. Students explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying both similarities and
differences between the two, and how some things change over time and some things stay the
4. Students use map and globe skills to determine the absolute locations of places and interpret
information available through a map’s or globe’s legend, scale, and symbolic representations.

Research, Evidence, and Point of View
1. Students differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
2. Students pose relevant questions about events they encounter in historical documents,
eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photographs, maps, artworks, and

Historical Interpretation
1. Students summarize the key events of the era they are studying and explain the historical
contexts of those events.

Fourth Grade
4.1.5 Use maps, charts, and pictures to describe how communities in California vary in land use,
vegetation, wildlife, climate, population density, architecture, services, and transportation.
4.4.2 Discuss immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900, including the
diverse composition of those who came; the countries of origin and their relative locations; and
conflicts and accords among the diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act).
4.4.6 Describe the development and locations of new industries since the nineteenth century,
such as the aerospace industry, electronics industry, large-scale commercial agriculture and
irrigation projects, the oil and automobile industries, communications and defense industries,
and important trade links with the Pacific Basin

Fifth Grade
5.8.4. Discuss the experiences of settlers on the overland trails to the West
(e.g., location of the routes; purpose of the journeys; the influence of the
terrain, rivers, vegetation, and climate; life in the territories at the end of
these trails).

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills (6-8)
Chronological and Spatial Thinking
1. Students explain how major events are related to one another in time.
3. Students use a variety of maps and documents to identify physical and cultural features of
neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries and to explain the historical migration of people,
expansion and disintegration of empires, and the growth of economic systems.
Research Evidence, and Point
1. Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
4. Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound
conclusions from them.
Historical Interpretation
1. Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in
a matrix of time and place.
4. Students recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.
5. Students recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new information is
Content Standards (8th Grade)
8.12.1 Trace patterns of agricultural and industrial development as they relate to climate, use of
natural resources, markets, and trade and locate such development on a map.