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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Top Picks


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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: A thoughtful, ready-to-go platform that facilitates authentic, cross-cultural collaboration.

Google Earth

Virtual globe shines with breathtaking features, endless possibility

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

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.


Exceptionally well-designed games, lesson plans demystify government

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

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.

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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