Common Sense


10 Best Social Studies Tools for Elementary School

As young kids grow and their world expands, they're increasingly curious about what's around them and what happened before they got here. This collection of elementary-level social studies tools will get kids digging into history and exploring places near and far, all while learning about different societies and cultures, and how they fit into the big picture. There are also a few tools on this list that help kids expand their present horizons. There are news sites that'll help them process current events as well as pen pal platforms for communicating and collaborating with other kids across the globe.

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BrainPOP Jr.

Top-notch educational videos a boon for elementary school teachers

Bottom line: BrainPOP Jr. sets the bar for top-quality online learning supplements.

Google Earth

Cool geographical exploration tool has endless classroom applications

Bottom line: Google Earth offers less functionality than the PC version but still thrills.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Powerful stories and media centralize African-American history

Bottom line: While there aren't ready-to-go curricular materials, this modern, well-curated, and well-contextualized digital collection is sure to inspire compelling lessons.

National Geographic Kids

Stunning photos and in-depth stories of Earth's peoples and wildlife

Bottom line: This amazing collection of multimedia resources teaches kids about animals, habitats, countries, and cultures.

The Wonderment

Ambitious global community aims for public good through student engagement

Bottom line: A powerful, improving social network for exploring the world and effecting positive change.


Absorbing daily news stories offer kids just-right learning content

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet students right at their level: Use this robust tool to bolster students' nonfiction reading practice.


Kids travel the world, cultivate global curiosity and responsibility

Bottom line: Kids get a sense of culture and global responsibility via kid-friendly articles and great multimedia.

PenPal Schools

Collaborative lessons connect students across the globe

Bottom line: A thoughtful, ready-to-go platform that builds global awareness and collaboration skills by facilitating authentic, cross-cultural PBL experiences.


Extensive humanities resource offers deep well of great content

Bottom line: The National Endowment for the Humanities has put together an outstanding place for art, history, language, and literature.

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Discover, create, remix, and share Smithsonian resources

Bottom line: This thoughtfully crafted, open-ended curation and creation tool has a place in most classrooms.

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