23 TOOLS

Great History and Geography Games

It can be tough to get students interested in social studies. It's easy to get lost in a mess of dates, places, and people -- all of which seem so remote from kids' day-to-day lives. This collection of history and geography games -- spanning elementary to high school -- offer so much more than a textbook. They're absorbing and full of challenging scenarios. Some are packed with facts and knowledge while others offer alternate histories that can encourage reflection and discussion. They can be used in classrooms or assigned for homework or enrichment. These games also include a range of topics -- from U.S. presidents, cities, and countries to different civilizations and historical events, from folklore and culture to politics, war, and social issues. All of them, however, focus on making history relevant and are sure to spark discussion and debate.

Free

GameUp by BrainPop

Grab bag of game goodies creatively explores a variety of subjects

Bottom Line: A really nice variety of subject matter and a unique approach get kids actively involved in the learning process.

Grades: 4–8
Price:
Free

Geoguessr

Addicting gameplay jazzes up geography

Bottom Line: Game-based platform can get kids interested in world geography and expose them to different cultures on a surface level.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free, Paid

When Rivers Were Trails

Point-and-click story shares Native perspectives on forced migration

Bottom Line: Offers a valuable alternative perspective to the colonial history found in U.S. classrooms, through a familiar, Oregon Trail-style format.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

Civics! An American Musical

Primary source-focused game has students create their own "Hamilton"

Bottom Line: This is a quick and useful way to introduce middle schoolers to primary sources, or to kick off discussion on some key U.S. history topics.

Grades: 6–8
Price:
Free

iCivics

Well-designed games, lessons can spice up your civics curriculum

Bottom Line: This game-based curriculum would be an excellent addition to any secondary social studies.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Race to Ratify

Great history game offers cool constitutional spin on persuasion

Bottom Line: This super smart game will get students digging into and understanding the federalist and anti-federalist sides of the U.S. Constitution ratification debate.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

East of the Rockies

AR experience offers moving insight into tragic history of internment

Bottom Line: Culturally rich and emotionally moving, with purposeful opportunities for interactivity.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

PeaceMaker: Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Compelling test of kids' empathy and problem-solving skills

Bottom Line: It'll give students an impactful lesson on the complexity of human conflict, and the ongoing tensions in the Middle East that emphasizes empathy and the delicate nature of diplomacy.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

Paid

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom Line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free to try

Kids US Atlas - United States Geography Games

Cool info, good audio, so-so quizzes take kids inside U.S. geography

Bottom Line: A fun way to explore the animals, people, and places of the United States.

Grades: 3–5
Price:
Free to try

Geography Drive USA

Engaging game uncovers many fun facts, but not much in-depth learning

Bottom Line: This is a fun way to explore the history and geography of the United States, but look elsewhere for deep learning.

Grades: 3–7
Price:
Paid

Presidents vs. Aliens

Aliens make presidential facts out-of-this-world fun

Bottom Line: Learning facts about the presidents becomes fun with this silly arcade game filled with zany aliens.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Paid

Discovery Tour by Assassin's Creed: Ancient Egypt

Popular game's education mode offers stunning view of ancient world

Bottom Line: This game is an absorbing experience that offers students a unique, living and breathing view of ancient Egyptian art, life, and culture.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

MapMaster - Geography game

Speedy, addicting gameplay builds basic geography knowledge

Bottom Line: A solid, entertaining way to explore and test kids' geography knowledge.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Paid

Humankind

Refinement of strategy game formula supports historical exploration

Bottom Line: Like any consumer-oriented game, this experience will absorb and delight students far more than "educational" games, but it'll require open-minded and creative teaching.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

Sid Meier's Civilization V

Legendary strategy game is a hit with history buffs in school and out

Bottom Line: For flexible classrooms, creative teachers, and sharp students, Civilization V is the perfect platform for making rather than memorizing history.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Heartfelt story-as-history-lesson humanizes World War I

Bottom Line: Part history lesson, part action, part puzzler, all wrapped inside a sincere and emotional story that builds skills, historical knowledge, and empathy.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

Radio General

WWII game has layers of learning, novel voice-based controls

Bottom Line: This is a refreshingly new approach to a WWII game that offers students a more accurate simulation of battlefield chaos.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Best entry in classic strategy series might not be best for classrooms

Bottom Line: As with all games in this series, Civilization VI is a great learning experience with the right support, but older, cheaper versions may be more practical for classrooms.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Slow but alluring game uniquely depicts how folklore shaped America

Bottom Line: While it's not perfect, it could serve as a nice complement to a unit on American folklore or as a way to inspire students to write their own tall tales.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

Attentat 1942

Emotional WWII game deftly explores the stories of survivors

Bottom Line: An absorbing experience that'll motivate students to piece together a family's story of survival during Nazi occupation.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Paid

Svoboda 1945: Liberation

Poignant WWII investigation game plumbs a town's dark past

Bottom Line: An excellent game that could complement any curriculum on World War II.

Grades: 10–12
Price:
Paid

This War of Mine

Strategy game offers superb, mature take on war and civilian survival

Bottom Line: A stark portrayal of civilian life in a war-torn city that requires strategic thinking and invites repeated plays.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Paid

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