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Best Websites and Games for U.S. History and Civics

Sometimes, the history that students learn about in textbooks is boiled down to key events and dates, and is all-too-often limited to traditional narratives of progress that privilege war, leaders, and American exceptionalism. These great U.S. history and civics websites and games flip the script by letting students explore the complexity and contradictions of American history from different perspectives. Use these sites and games to help your students look critically at historical narratives, delve into primary documents, learn about the contributions of regular people, honor the contributions of diverse people and cultures, and bring this knowledge to bear on current events.

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U.S. History Websites

ArtsEdge

Impressive cross-curricular resource helps put the A in STEAM

Bottom Line: A useful and engaging resource for integrating the arts into a variety of other subject areas.

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 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.

American Panorama

Interactive atlas magnifies events in United States history

Bottom Line: With layers of learning opportunities, this is a unique interactive resource to supplement curriculum.

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.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Stellar history website, gateway to cool PD and scholarship

Bottom Line: In class, a good resource for U.S. history; beyond, a great website for free teacher PD and some great in-depth exploration of primary sources.

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.

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.

American Social History Project

Deep, research-backed resources highlight America's rich diversity

Bottom Line: Worth the time investment, because these valuable, socially progressive materials will add depth to the study of American history.

National WWII Museum

High-quality resources and activities offer an in-depth study

Bottom Line: Materials and activities support a thorough study of World War II, making this a valuable resource for both teachers and students.

Historypin

Crowdsourcing is key to making history accessible, approachable

Bottom Line: Historypin is an engaging tool to get kids interested in the history of their community and the world.

The Idea of America

High-quality digital history curriculum encourages debate

Bottom Line: A dynamic collection of resources and instructional strategies to enhance the teaching of U.S. history.

Smarthistory

Bring traditional art education to life with fresh, interactive multimedia

Bottom Line: A worthy supplement to an art history or humanities class.

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.

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.

U.S. History Games

Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere's Ride

Charming play brings American Revolution to life in ways that stick

Bottom Line: History lessons package content with style and interactivity to help kids connect with Paul Revere's story.

The Oregon Trail

Strong pioneer-simulation game with secondary emphasis on history

Bottom Line: Classic westward expansion game just as fun as ever, but would benefit from some diverse updates.

Mission US: For Crown or Colony?

First-person journey through pre-Revolutionary War America

Bottom Line: This online game immerses kids in history by letting them make the choices people living in the 1770s would have made.

iCivics

Exceptionally well-designed games, lesson plans demystify government

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

Cuba's Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis

Make historic decisions in this absorbing choose-your-own adventure

Bottom Line: Offers a captivating way to retrace and reflect on steps taken during a major historical event.

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