Top Ten Apps for Teaching Social Studies
With the wide selection of educational apps available today, students’ learning need not be limited to school time and homework time. They can learn the capitals of major European countries while waiting in line at the grocery store or take a virtual tour of ancient Rome while riding in the car to soccer practice. Social science apps personalize learning; students can move through the content as quickly or slowly as they need to, explore areas that interest them, and practice recalling facts to solidify their knowledge. They can also have a lot of fun! These apps will enhance students’ learning of social studies.
For the younger set, where better to start than to go back in history and learn about dinosaurs? Children can help Ansel the alien and Clair the robot dig for fossils and put dinosaur bones together, then learn facts about 7 different dinosaurs. They can stop at the basic facts or go on to learn more. They can take pictures of each dinosaur and place them in a photo album, and create and name a dinosaur of their own. This app is part of a series of Ansel and Clair dinosaur apps by Cognitive Kid. You may also want to check out their apps for the Cretaceous and Triassic periods. They’re appropriate for children from pre-readers up to about 10 years old.
This is a very ambitious app that spans world history with topics ranging from the beginning of the solar system through ancient civilizations, Medieval Europe, World Wars I and II, and up to the lunar landing. Each section begins with an audio selection which summarizes the events. Aimed at school-age children aged 7 and up, it includes very cute animations, interactive clues, and lots of facts, maps, and charts. The student can also travel backward and forward in time using an interactive timeline.
For studying our world, you won’t find an app much better than Geo Walk. Students get to twirl an interactive globe filled with thumbnail pictures. Tapping on a picture brings up information about the animals and plants, history, people, and inventions of that particular area. Up-to-date descriptions and stunning photos keep students engaged. Information is presented in short, interesting bits, so students are not overwhelmed. A quiz mode enables them to test themselves on what they’ve learned.
This app is part of the Britannica Kids series of history apps, which also includes Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and Knights and Castles. Full of information about the ancient Aztec culture, this app is aimed at older children (8+) who are good readers. Students can choose from several subjects such as Aztec rulers, culture, society, or religion. In each section, they can read interesting text and look at high quality images. When they’re done exploring the information, there are puzzles, games, and quizzes. A fun map tool lets them zoom in to see locations close up.
Looking for a really fun app for students to learn world geography? This app fits the bill. Students will learn facts about 193 countries, including their capitals, landmarks, major cities, continents, border countries, languages, flags and country shapes. All this is in the context of a fun game with various levels. As students learn, they drag the countries and pile them on top of each other. Once they are piled up to the line, the student wins that level and goes on to the next. They “earn” a country for each level completed and unlock more games. Truly fun and educational, this app shows what mobile learning should be. Recommended for ages 7+.
Timeline Battle Castles is a highly informative app featuring the history of more than 500 years of Medieval castles and battles. Students study not only castles and battles but also everyday life and occupations through photos, videos, maps, and an interactive timeline. Easy-to-read text and over 100 short video clips spark children’s interest. Students can use the timeline to choose a century, decade or year to study. From the map, they can click on a castle or battle to learn more about it. Videos even include information on how to use medieval weapons, a subject which is usually of great interest to students! The app is appropriate for children with good reading skills, ages 8+. There are other apps in the Timeline series: World War I, World War II, and the American Civil War.
This ground-breaking app, appropriate for children ages 12-18, literally takes them on a virtual tour of ancient Rome. Subjects covered include The Capital, Major Public Works, The Army, Origins, Battles and Conquests, Communications, Daily Life, Religion, Life in the Home, Art and Power, The Emperors, Public Spectacles, Globalization, The Fall, and The Rediscovery. Using amazing “bubble view” technology, this app enables students to see inside modern and ancient Rome, and even switch views from one to the other. Interactive maps and timelines, 3D models, and photo galleries will keep students immersed in learning about Rome for many weeks.
If the universe started 24 hours ago, what happened at 7:00 AM yesterday? That’s the concept behind this unique and visually stunning e-textbook app. Appropriate for kids ages 10 and up, Back in Time takes students on a voyage of exploration through the history of the universe. In studying each historical event, students have access to interesting facts, crisp images, and informative timelines. This app has won several awards, including one from American Photo Magazine as one of the 10 Best Photo E-Books of 2012.
Ansel the alien and Clair the robot are at it again. But it’s not dinosaurs they’re studying this time–it’s Africa! Great for kids ages 4 and up, this app follows the characters on a trip to Africa. Their spaceship has come apart and been scattered across several different regions of the continent. As they try to piece their ship back together, they learn about each region’s ecosystems and culture. Fun activities and games add to the enjoyment of the adventure. Hopefully Ansel and Clair will explore the other continents in future apps.
This free app is a must for teachers and students of history. Look up any date in the year and find out what happened on that day. For each date you can choose either top events or history browser. The top events section tells you which famous people were born or died on that day, and which battles or other significant events took place. The history browser gives you access to articles directly related to the events of the day.