In the spirit of the 4th of July, Edshelf shares some great websites and mobile apps for teaching United States history. Whether you are teaching summer school, homeschool, planning a similar lesson for the next school year, or just want to enrich your kids right now, here are some useful tools to try.
- Digital Public Library of America – What better place to start than a collection of resources and materials from America’s libraries, archives, and museums? You can search for content here in multiple ways: in a text search, on a map, and on a timeline. The breadth of information here makes this a fantastic open educational resource.
- Historypin – If you were to crowdsource the sharing of historical events and use a map as your canvas, you would have Historypin. Anyone can “pin” a piece of history on a map for others to see. Scroll around and look for your hometown. If no one has pinned anything yet, go ahead and add your piece of history.
- MapStory – Like the previous tool, MapStory also allows anyone to share historical events on a map. However, there is one key difference. These events can be animated to show their progression through time, such as the spread of killer bees (yikes!) and battles throughout the US Civil War.
- Britannica Kids: US Presidents – This iOS app doesn’t only serve as a good reference guide to the US Presidents, it also features a quiz, a “Hail to the Chief” sing-along, and “Did You Know?” facts to keep your little learners engaged.
- Stack the States – This popular iOS app turns learning about states, capitals, and US geography into a fun game. Answer questions as states stack up (hence the name) to get to progressively harder levels.
- Geography Drive USA – Another way to learn about US geography is to take a road trip – on your mobile device! This award-winning game uses a virtual road trip as the basis for a series of geographic questions.
- iCivics – Here is a Flash-based game your learners can play in a capable web browser. iCivics includes a series of games covering a wide range of government topics, such as the Constitution, the Executive branch, the electoral process, and more.
- The Fed – Just as important as the civic history of the US is the economic history. This is the official app of the United States Federal Reserve System and it includes a wealth of data, news, speeches, videos, etc. Most appropriate for learners in middle school and above.
- Arts Days – We can’t forget about the arts. Created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this website and iPhone app covers Common Core Standards aligned lesson plans, how-to guides, and videos in both the visual and musical arts.
- YTTM: YouTube Time Machine – Looking for a historical video? Here is a curated list of YouTube videos that you can search through using a timeline and a set of filters, such as current events, sports, television, etc. Good for digging up some reference videos for your history lesson.
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