Apps, Programs and Websites
Apps, Programs and Websites for Parents, Teachers and Kids
Social Studies
Google Earth

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation

Website: https://goo.gl/wfbw2g

This is the most popular global-trotting visual program available to most kids, parents, and teachers. Google Earth is not a stand-alone program—it really doesn’t have curricular units—and its main purpose is going to be in providing support and resources for research projects or class assignments. Google Earth is a large interactive map which allows users to zoom in and out of physical features around the world. The pictures and images come from a variety of sources—satellite images, aerial photography, and ground-level pictures which were taken at eye-level from a moving car. There are some tutorial videos available and kids will be able to record their tours and even see features of the land in real time, including the ability to sift through layers of clouds and geographical features.

Overall: This is a very good app to supplement kids’ learning. Four Stars ★★★★

iCivics

Grades: 7-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Evaluation, Influence, Teamwork, Negotiation

Website: http://www.icivics.org/

This is a great app for anyone who is learning about civics. The amount of material available is fairly extensive—compared to other sites—and prepared well because videos, documents, and interactive materials abound. There are even games to play, which will appear to be loosely similar to Sim City fanatics. The graphics won’t be quite as good, but the designers of this site aren’t asking you for $50 to use their materials—like many new video games will be requesting. iCivics began as an idea by a former Supreme Court Justice and students can learn about common civics topics such as democracy, constitutional law, the branches of government, election, and campaigns. A stockpile of lesson plans are available for teachers and parents who homeschool.

Overall: This is one of the best electronic apps or websites available on civics, a topic of study which is practically mandatory—in some form or other—for all middle school students. Four Stars ★★★★

Mission US: Flight to Freedom

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Prediction, Modeling, Evaluation

Website: http://www.mission-us.org/

This is an excellent website which actually has four different role-playing scenarios. Each scenario takes place in a different time period, either 1770, 1848, 1866, or 1907. Students will play the role of various characters, either a Bostonian apprentice, a slave girl, a young Cheyenne, or a Russian immigrant. While kids will learn something about each time period, what they also learn with these scenarios, is to get a feeling about what it was like to be living in each time period and to be the individual, suffering the consequences, whichever way they went—for good or for ill—because of who they were, and not about any particular personal strengths or qualities. After kids play each scenario, they may need to decompress with an adult what they have just experienced. For example, in the Flight to Freedom scenario, kids play the role of a 14 year-old slave girl and have different choices to make in the game. Some choices end up with their character being place in prison because sometimes that is what happened in 1848 to slaves who attempted to escape. In this game, once you are in jail, the game is over. For students used to video games in which they can die hundreds of times over and be miraculously reborn, this may be an abrupt conclusion.

Overall: A very good site for kids to learn history and also get a feeling for what it was like to actually living in the time period chosen. Five Stars ★★★★★

National Geographic Kids

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Planning, Causation, Judgment

Website: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

This educational website, sponsored by the larger parent company, National Geographic, is filled with videos and stories about geography, culture, and science. It’s hard to categorize the new National Geographic because they are clearly trying to go beyond the boundaries of geography, which is how the company originally began. This website does require a paid subscription—about $5, but the money is well worth it. The overall quality is fairly high and there are a number of topics available. Teachers, parents, and kids will be able to watch videos, listen to audio, play games, investigate the profiles of both animals and counties, and even get some ideas on how to make some craft-like items. National Geographic is securing their spot in the digital educational environment and can’t be overlooked as a go-to source of information.

Overall: It’s hard to go wrong with National Geographic. I wouldn’t bet against them. Their website and activities will stand long after the weaker players have been weeded out. Five Stars ★★★★★

TapQuiz Maps

Grades: 5-8

Level of Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Remembering

Costa: Level 1

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Judgement

Website: https://goo.gl/muCZy

This is a simple app. TapQuiz Maps is essentially a flashcard drill on countries around the world. Students can zero in on any part of the world and then be quizzed on the names of the countries or areas. For example, kids can easily use this app to be quizzed on all the states in America or the countries in Africa. The app isn’t too glitzy and doesn’t pretend to be more than it really is—which is a game to help kids and adults memorize the locations of countries around the world. Before you dismiss this app as a waste of time, consider this question: Do you know where Gabon is in Africa? After using this app, you will know the answer to this question. As a plus, the app will retest students over any nations or countries they got wrong. Kids can get test scores and speed is important. Teachers have a way of monitoring the progress of their students.

Overall: Simple but effective. Think of this app as electronic flash cards. Three Stars ★★★

Teaching Tolerance

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I, II, III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Evaluation, Diagnosis, Planning, Influence, Describing

Website: http://www.tolerance.org/

This is a great site for not only social studies educators but also parents and schools who are seeking help for teaching diversity and equity issues. This website is sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is full of resources and materials on bullying, social justice, gender equity and racism. What is especially useful about this site is that many of the activities, besides being educational and instructive, will ask students to reflect and think about how they act and interact with the world and people around them. This makes for a much more compelling and intellectual thought process. The site was primarily developed for teachers and they will find lots of information on music, videos, classroom activities, stories, debates, and film kits. I can easily see teachers using the information on this site to supplement and support the standards and essential questions they are using in the classroom. I can also see parents who are homeschooling their children having great success with the materials here.

Overall: This is one of the first places teachers and parents should look for materials on equity and diversity. Five Stars ★★★★★

Teachinghistory

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment, Influence, Describing

Website: http://goo.gl/kx1a5

This is a website many teachers and parents who are homeschooling their kids will want to be using on a regular basis. Because the site attempts to provide materials for elementary, middle, and high school students, there are lots of units and resources for teachers and parents to select from. The site is not exhaustive, however, and you will sometimes not find what you are looking for. However, Teachinghistory acts as a clearinghouse of information, with links to lots of information, sites, and apples. I can easily see this website being used by kids as they are researching a topic or getting ready to make a presentation. This is not intended to be the exclusive site or source for kids learning about history.

Overall: This should be one of the first places social studies teachers and parents check for resources. Four Stars ★★★★

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