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Best Government and Civics Websites and Games

Help students grapple with government and learn their rights as human beings and citizens with these great websites and games for civics and government. It's through politics that power gets distributed, and if students are to fight for social change and make a better world, they need to understand how different governments function, the rights granted to their citizens, and how people can influence them. These websites and games also offer students resources to explore the history of political movements, the rise and fall of governmental systems, and the way human rights have evolved over time. While this list isn't limited to the U.S., there's a healthy focus on the rights granted and governed by the U.S. Constitution, voter information for U.S. election, and how the U.S. government operates, including info on the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.

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Government and Civics Websites

Center for Civic Education

Good lesson plans, resources boost students' political awareness

Bottom line: There's some great content here amidst some so-so tie-ins to a textbook series; take a look and find a few nice tools to drop into your year.

Kids in the House

Detailed, age-appropriate intro to the U.S. Congress and its history

Bottom line: A great starting point for accessing the rich history and complex work of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Youth Leadership Initiative

Immersive simulations, in-class activities bring democracy to life

Bottom line: A gateway to some great activities for getting kids engaged in what it means to be a citizen in a democracy; defintely mine these riches for some activities for your classroom.

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.

Street Law

Excellent info, activities get kids engaged in SCOTUS's work, impact

Bottom line: An exceptional resource for learning about the law and justice system in the United States.

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.

Newseum

Media museum's site mixes history and civics, teaches about journalism

Bottom line: An effective summary and introduction to the media; more exercises and tools to help budding young journalists would make the site even more noteworthy.

Project Vote Smart

Thorough, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials

Bottom line: Easy-to-use search tool is a must for any classroom that is learning about the United States government and our representatives.

Zinn Education Project

Resources, lessons help teach a more inclusive version of U.S. history

Bottom line: Free downloadable resources encourage critical thinking and active learning in search of a more accurate picture of American history.

Digital Civics Toolkit

Superb, timely civics lessons focus on social media and student voice

Bottom line: For teachers looking to make civics relevant to students, there's nothing else out there as extensive or relevant.

The Harry Potter Alliance

Fan site promotes real-world heroics with activism for social justice

Bottom line: A fun, empowering community for Potter fans who want to talk Hogwarts and make the world a better place while they're at it.

Kialo

A troll-free zone for student discussion and debate

Bottom line: This is a valuable platform for students to learn about social and political issues while practicing digital citizenship and argumentation.

YourCommonwealth

Engage with passionate international perspectives from youth

Bottom line: Offers a rich variety of news and opinion stories on global issues, and its young writers will get U.S. students hooked on civic engagement.

Data USA

Elegant treasure trove of data could fuel lessons and projects

Bottom line: An efficient research tool that makes it easier to incorporate stats into a host of lessons or projects focusing on the U.S.

Voices of Democracy

Vast collection of primary source documents a solid starting point

Bottom line: A great place to begin when you want to make history feel more real, but "begin" is the operative word; plan on creating your own scaffolding.

Constitute

Extensive, highly searchable collection of the world's constitutions

Bottom line: Quickly and easily access almost any country's constitution, locate an excerpt, or compare governments.

iSideWith

Easy-to-use political quiz provides instant results, provokes debate

Bottom line: A great tool to help students determine and compare political views; especially useful during the election cycle.

The Living New Deal | Still Working for America

Archival site is a treasure trove for New Deal researchers

Bottom line: While it doesn't offer much specifically for teachers or students, it's a must-use site for primary source material if you have a unit on the New Deal or Great Depression.

SCOTUSblog

Real-time updates and in-depth content on U.S. Supreme Court decisions

Bottom line: A comprehensive resource for any educator or student following the Supreme Court's work.

Stanford History Education Group

High-quality, document-based lessons spark stellar historical inquiry

Bottom line: A gold mine of CCSS-aligned lessons for U.S. and world history teachers; encourages reading, analysis, and collaboration.

Government and Civics Games

Community in Crisis

Game shows real-world uses for literacy and decision-making skills

Bottom line: A clever, real-world, and civic-minded context to learn and practice ELA skills.

Fantasy Geopolitics

Impressive fantasy "sports" game engages students on current events

Bottom line: This game could be the hook that gets students engaged with international news.

iCivics

Exceptionally well-designed games, lesson plans demystify government

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

SimCity

Exciting city simulator great for online play

Bottom line: SimCity does a great job teaching kids about cities by putting them in control of designing them, but this game needs a constant Internet connection.

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.

Political Animals

Charming political campaign sim mixes data analysis and civics

Bottom line: It's a highly entertaining and surprisingly deep way to help students see the strategy -- as well as ethical choices -- involved in elections.

Democracy 3

Nuanced political sim about the balancing act of government

Bottom line: This is a grown-up civics sim, full of tough choices, compelling cause and effect relationships, and controversial issues that will work best for older government students.

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