Common Sense


10 Best Social Studies Tools for Middle School

In middle school, students dig deeper into the big ideas that cut through them time and culture. Middle school is when concepts like civilization, colonization, and industrialization start to re-frame how students understand and interpret the world both past and present. Whether your class is studying ancient cultures or debating issues in the latest election, we've curated some of our top-rated social studies tools that help students peel back the layers of society and history, and inspire them to imagine and win a more equitable world.

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Teaching Tolerance

Thought-provoking classroom resources support diversity education

Bottom line: It's an invaluable teacher tool to help reduce prejudice and encourage tolerance in schools, as well as within society as a whole.

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.

Google Earth

Virtual globe shines with breathtaking features, endless possibility

Bottom line: Outstanding features, interactivity, and astonishing versatility -- the virtual total package for kid explorers.


"Just one more turn" gameplay jazzes up geography

Bottom line: It's not a typical educational game, but students are inspired to explore the world and encouraged to think critically about what defines culture and geography.

National Archives

Access U.S. history with treasure trove of docs, genealogy, and other resources

Bottom line: NARA's website wasn't designed for kids, but they can definitely use it to research and learn about history, genealogy, and the U.S. population and government.

Beyond the Bubble

Top-quality assessments challenge students to think like historians

Bottom line: A ready-to-go, pedagogically sound route for refocusing formative assessment on critical thinking and literacy rather than memorization.


Exceptionally well-designed games, lesson plans demystify government

Bottom line: This excellent addition to a civics classroom simplifies complex topics.

Google Arts & Culture

Excellent curation and an unmatched art collection invites exploration

Bottom line: A one-stop shop for a vast amount of compellingly curated and contextualized art, but it's lacking educator supports.

The Knotted Line

Unique, artistic timeline lets kids explore freedom in U.S. history

Bottom line: Students will benefit from this eye-opening and interactive approach to studying history.

Zoom In

Top-notch lessons teach historical content, boost analytical skills

Bottom line: A go-to resource for the CCSS era, filled with rich content and meaningful opportunities for skill development.

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