Common Sense Review
Updated August 2014

United States History

Huge, unadorned collection of historical and primary-source docs
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Documents range from primary-source docs to quick-reference facts.
  • State data includes geography, flags, facts, and state history.
  • Timeline shows major events in U.S. history from 1492 to present.
  • Full text of the U.S. Constitution is available and searchable.
  • Mostly text-based, but some info-graphics explain topics.
Exhaustive but easy-to-explore info on U.S. history and American government.
Reads like a textbook; text-heavy with a few graphics, but no multimedia.
Bottom Line
Impressive collection of primary documents, speeches, and other historical documents puts a wealth of information at one's fingertips.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

The amount of historical information will prove about as fascinating as browsing an encyclopedia -- mesmerizing to some, boring to others, useful to all.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Impressive collection of primary-source docs can be used for research and reference. Some secondary resources and quick references are included, as well, to round out this encyclopedia-style app.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Documents are searchable, but keyword searches can't be narrowed to specific documents. Students will have to take notes outside the app, as there's no function for annotating or highlighting.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use United States History as a reference source that students can access on any device in a 1-to-1 classroom when they need to get facts quickly or want to work with primary-source documents. The developer offers the app for free but welcomes donations, which can be sent in-app. Speeches, including "The Emancipation Proclamation," "I Have a Dream," Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall," and more than a dozen more, could be read aloud by students as speaking projects, or as read-alongs while watching or listening to recorded versions through other media. Primary sources can be used for research and, along with other information provided, for reports as well. Teachers could direct kids to the DYK? facts featured each day as fun pieces of daily trivia.

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What's It Like?

This is an extensive compilation of documents related to U.S. history and American government. A left-hand column lists all available information by topic -- U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, Anti-Federalist Papers, Presidents, Flag Code, The 50 States, Military, Important Dates, Documents and Speeches, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Pledge of Allegiance, Articles of Confederation, and Branches of Government. Tapping a topic brings up either a full-screen document or a menu of subtopics. A search function searches for a keyword within all documents and pulls up matching documents, but the keyword isn't highlighted within the text. A DYK? (Did You Know?) section features five quick facts from a database of thousands of facts.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The developer humorously makes clear that this app is not meant to be used for studying for tests or preparing for "Jeopardy," noting that it's a work in progress with regular updates to add new information. Still, even with some events still missing, United States History puts a wealth of information in students' hands. The speeches and primary-source documents alone are a goldmine. This is a resource, however -- mostly text with a smattering of graphics -- that's not designed to dazzle with multimedia. Information is presented statically with no links to related events or documents, which would add some depth and context, but this simple presentation is less distracting. It's like old-school history on a device rather than in print.

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See how teachers are using United States History

Lesson Plans