TOP PICKS | 42 TOOLS

Great Social Studies Apps and Websites

From world geography to U.S. government, this collection of resources covers key social studies topics for all grades. There are compelling news sites and podcast apps for keeping up with current events, timeline creators for demonstrating historical knowledge, pen-pal sites to connect with and learn about people from other cultures, and treasure troves of historical documents and media. No matter what you choose, students will develop skills that'll make them better global citizens who respect diversity and strive for social change. 

Current Events

News-O-Matic EDU

Daily news stories and supplements keep elementary schoolers current

Bottom Line: This highly useful current events platform can be a daily fixture of elementary school classrooms.

Grades: 2–6
Price:
Free to try

News2you

Weekly newspaper makes current events accessible to all

Bottom Line: This a pricey tool but it's packed with a school year's worth of curiosity-building content and handy accessibility features.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Paid

Listenwise

Bring real-world stories from public radio into the classroom

Bottom Line: A fantastic resource that brings both historical and current event public radio stories into the classroom.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

The New York Times

Easy access to news, but most content is available only to subscribers

Bottom Line: Provides an easy-to-use news resource, but only section front pages are accessible without a subscription.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free, Paid

NPR: Borderland

Illuminating, up-close-and-personal visit to the U.S.-Mexico border

Bottom Line: As a truly unique resource that's worth using, teachers will need to create lessons that scaffold students' understanding of the complex issues found within.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

NPR One

Trusty podcast app has quality content but lacks learning supports

Bottom Line: An enticing free option for connecting current events to content through podcasts, but student engagement hinges on how you incorporate it.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

Model Diplomacy

Students become foreign policy experts in this real-world simulation

Bottom Line: This impressive program has ready-to-use and expert-vetted content that'll help advanced students engage meaningfully with foreign policy issues and processes.

Grades: 11–12
Price:
Free

Geography & Exploration

Google Earth

Dazzling globe-trotting tool has endless classroom applications

Bottom Line: This tool defines engagement and offers a completely open-ended experience perfect for use across the educational spectrum.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

Barefoot World Atlas

Visually stunning 3-D globe piques students' interest in world facts

Bottom Line: Dive right in to world geography with a beautiful, interactive globe full of narratives and photos of different cultures and traditions.

Grades: 1–5
Price:
Paid

Stack the Countries

A whole world of facts, maps, and fun waiting to be stacked

Bottom Line: Kids learn about the world through easy-to-use flashcards and exciting stacking games.

Grades: 2–6
Price:
Paid

Stack the States 2

Geography trivia game balances facts and fun

Bottom Line: This is a clear go-to if you're looking to help students memorize state locations, shapes, capitals, history, and more.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Paid

Google Earth VR

Explore the world with an incredible new perspective and sense of scale

Bottom Line: An amazing experience that brings the world to life, despite the heavy investment in VR required.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

The Pyramids

Tap into students' inner archaeologists as they discover Ancient Egypt

Bottom Line: Students can experience some of Egypt's most famous pyramids and tombs while learning more about the life of Ancient Egyptians.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Paid

Global Awareness & Cultures

Homes by Tinybop

Explore homes -- and cultures -- around the world in exquisite detail

Bottom Line: Offers a delightful and accessible way for kids to learn about the world's cultures.

Grades: K–3
Price:
Paid

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.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

Oddizzi

Kids travel the world, cultivate global curiosity and responsibility

Bottom Line: Kids get a sense of culture and global responsibility via kid-friendly articles and great multimedia.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free to try, Paid

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.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Facing History and Ourselves

A wealth of resources explore racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism

Bottom Line: These valuable materials empower students to understand and address difficult ethical choices -- past and present.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Global Oneness Project

Captivating, cross-curricular stories increase cultural awareness

Bottom Line: Teachers looking to enrich their curriculum with high-quality, thought-provoking videos and photos will find plenty of inspiration, but may need to create or fine-tune some lessons.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Parable of the Polygons

Dynamic interactive helps classrooms explore topics of bias, diversity

Bottom Line: A fascinating way to address how communities become segregated due to individual bias.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

History & Historical Figures

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.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

EDSITEment

Extensive humanities resource offers deep well of great content

Bottom Line: The National Endowment for the Humanities has put together an outstanding place for art, history, language, and literature.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Digital Public Library of America

Organized digital library features piles of useful primary resources

Bottom Line: DPLA is at the top of the list of high-grade, online primary source collections if teachers make effective use of what's on offer.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

Ford's Theatre

Site famous for its Lincoln assassination resources has more to offer

Bottom Line: This site can support meaningful, primary source-driven examination of some of the most important events in U.S. history, but educators will need to dig a little.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

TeachRock

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.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

IWitness

Explore survivor testimony with lessons, video on teacher-geared site

Bottom Line: IWitness allows students to reflect upon the past, looking toward today’s values and society. Students build knowledge about the past using a dynamic, specific tool.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

The National WWII Museum - New Orleans

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.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

A History of Ideas

Philosophy podcast makes heady concepts accessible

Bottom Line: These philosophy podcasts and videos offer entertaining introductions to key concepts and thinkers, but require some smart lesson planning for deeper learning.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

U.S. History & Civics

Smithsonian's History Explorer

Browse and use American history artifacts and activities

Bottom Line: This is a handy resource that, with some effort, will uncover resources for kick-starting curious learning.

Grades: Pre-K–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

Annenberg Classroom

Civics website makes teaching the Constitution manageable, meaningful

Bottom Line: Go for the videos, stay for the lessons: Annenberg Classroom saves teachers' prep time when teaching the Constitution, current events, or other civics lessons.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

iCivics

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Kialo Edu

A terrific, troll-free zone for structuring student discussion and debate

Bottom Line: A valuable platform for students to learn about social and political issues while practicing digital citizenship and argumentation.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Journalism in Action

Journalistic history site helps students analyze primary sources

Bottom Line: This is a strong resource for showing the power of journalism and research, and it'll engage most students; others will need teacher support.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

K-TOWN'92

LA riot videos shake up dominant narrative

Bottom Line: This artful re-examination of the '92 LA riot can offer new insights and diverse perspectives, if students don't get too lost in the design.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

Sift - News Therapy

Sifts through daily news content to offer a deep dive on hot topics

Bottom Line: Sift can supplement students' study of a few hot-button topics -- and open up a conversation about media balance -- but it's lacking some learner supports.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free to try

Timelines

Sutori

Build timelines, embed media with cool storytelling tool

Bottom Line: With a super-simple design and tons of flexible features, this is an appealing and intuitive way for teachers and students to organize and share class content.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Tiki-Toki

Create eye-catching multimedia timelines for any purpose

Bottom Line: Multimedia timelines connect events visually, creating pathways for deeper analysis of any chronological story.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

TimeToast

Simple timeline creator could use more features and options

Bottom Line: An easy to use timeline tool for one-off projects, but for sustained use teachers will need to upgrade, and ultimately the features might not be robust enough.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free, Paid

More Top Picks for You

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