In literature we use "Somebody . . . Wanted . . . But . . . So". This could work for history as well. You read a passage, a story or a chapter, and you identify the "Somebody" (character), what they "Wanted", what kept them from getting it ("But"), and the outcome ("So"). For example, "Mr. G wanted
us to learn to summarize but
we weren't very good at it so
now we have to do this."
Or, "Mathilde wanted to look wealthy at the ball but she didn't have any jewelry so she borrowed a necklace, which she then lost." It can help them get straight to the point of a passage, but you do have to give examples or you get "Mathilde wanted to look wealthy at the ball because she didn't have any money but she didn't have any jewelry so she borrowed a necklace except then she lost it and spent 10 years paying it off but then it turned out to be a fake." (Which, depending on your kids' current skills, might still be an improvement