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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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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.

Learning for Justice

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

Give students global perspective with pen pal projects in any subject

Bottom line: This is a thoughtful, ready-to-go platform that facilitates authentic and safe cross-cultural collaboration.

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.


In-depth, interdisciplinary lessons crank up the learning

Bottom line: This site's materials have the potential to supplement, augment, or even replace favorite units of study, once teachers dig into and master what's offered.


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.

Common Sense Selection

Google Arts & Culture

Well-curated art and history site inspires curious learning

Bottom line: A beautifully presented one-stop shop for compellingly curated and contextualized art, history, and culture resources, but it's lacking educator supports.

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Top-notch lessons teach historical content, boost analytical skills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.


Civics site offers a PBS-guided approach to thoughtful debate

Bottom line: This is a powerful framework for building critical media literacy, but teachers might need to bring in some extra perspectives.

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