Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Resources for Teaching Social Studies

Top free resources for teaching and learning Social Studies 

The Library of Congress  – resources in “for teachers” page include ready-to-use materials that brings the Library’s primary sources aligned with state standards into the classrooms, online modules to build teacher skills with the Library’s professional development curriculum  (Library of Congress Learning Page “The Learning Page is designed to help educators use the American Memory Collections to teach history and culture. It offers tips and tricks, definitions and rationale for using primary sources, activities, discussions, lesson plans and suggestions for using the collections in classroom curriculum.”)

American Memory from the Library of Congress – American Memory provides “free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.

The National Archives’ Digital Classroom – is an online teaching tool from the US National Archives for teachers to find and create interactive learning activities with primary-source documents that promote historical thinking skills in 21st century classroom.

history resource, teaching history

Digital Vaults – Photos, documents, and popular media from the National Archives provide resources and interactive opportunities for users to access materials on endless U.S. historical topics and themes. The user can then organize the resources in any number of ways to relate to our country’s history and tell a story.  (from 2011 ALA Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning)

The World Digital Library (WDL) whilst in Qatar. The WDL makes significant primary materials from countries, and cultures around the world, available on the Internet, free of charge, in many languages. is a website that collects history resources and materials and provides support for K-12 history teachers through funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The site contains videos, links to resources, and materials that teachers can use in their classrooms.

National Council for the Social Studies has membership service about professional development and  support on various resources; without membership you still can access to rich teaching resources and links here.

C-SPAN Classroom – free primary source materials for social studies teachers, including lesson ideas, video library, constitution clips, by C-SPAN; tutorials for teachers are available

Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to preserve and present history online, each year CHNM’s many project websites receive over 16 million visitors, and over a million people rely on its digital tools and resources to teach, learn, and conduct research.

History Departments Around the World – searchable database linking to roughly 1,200 history departments around the world

The University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) hosts more than 300 outstanding digital collections, containing over 7 million pages of unique manuscripts and letters, antique mapsrare children’s literature bookstheses and dissertations, newspapers, historic photographs, oral histories, and more. The University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) enables users to find unique and rare digitized materials held at the University of Florida and partner institutions. With UFDC, remote and local researchers have free, open access to the full content of the resource. This is a constantly growing collection of resources.

EDSITEment  indexes nearly three hundred other websites at the current time! This wealth of material is provided by a partnership consisting of the National Endowment for the Humanities,Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities.Calisphere – A world of primary sources for teaching and exploration, from more than 150 archives, libraries, and museums. A free service of the University of California.

Smithsonian’s History Explorer – standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, developed by the National Museum of American History. Affiliated Organization:
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Primary Source is a non-profit educational resource center, in partnership with teachers, scholars, and the broader community, Primary Source provides learning opportunities and curriculum resources for K-12 educators. It has specially focused on learning about China.

Google Life Archive is a wonderful resource of historical images. It features millions of searchable photographs from the Life photo archive stretching from the 1750s to the present day. Most of these images were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of Google and Life magazine. (Search tip : Add “source:life” to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive. For example: computer source:life)

MapMaker Interactive (a tool from National Geographic) – Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map, looking for downloadable, black-and-white maps of the world, continents, countries and states? Try the MapMaker 1-Page Maps.

MapMaker Interactive, national geographic

The Oyez Project at Chicago-Kent is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality Tour of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices. is a free-to-use, video-rich, award-winning history resource for students, teachers and life-learners.  The resources include the history of Britain, smallpox through time, the America West… All text resources on the site may be reproduced freely without payment, but please credit the site as appropriate. It also launched a new exciting site for users of tablets and mobile devices. The new site also contains timelines for ‘Nazi Germany’, ‘USA 1900-45’ and ‘The Edwardians’.

history learning resource – your must-have site for history resources, including teaching materials, TV shows, videos, games…… over 3 million fans are following on its facebook

Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.

Digital History is a new Web resource that aims to cover the latest trends in digital history and to keep up with the state-of-the-field. Doug Seefeldt and William Thomas are the co-editors. It contains a Directory of Digital Historians, an Index of Digital Scholarship, information on the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-up Grant, Digital History project reviews, and new media tool reviews(CitelineExhibitGoogle EarthTimelineTokenX). The site is licensed under Creative Commons.

History Matters – Annotated guide to best U.S. history websites

ECHO – Comprehensive guide to websites in the history of science, technology, and industry

World History Sources – Guide to best world history websites with primary sources

BBC history site – Ancient history, British history, World war, Historic figures, Family history, Hands on history, History for kids and History games.

The European Virtual Museum is a collaboration from twenty-seven European museums. It makes artifacts of European history available in interactive 3D form for optimized viewing through the use of QuickTime technology.

The British Museum offers 500 online objects and some awesome adventure games for youth to explore world histories and stories. – a free, not-for-profit, multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional art history textbook

ActiveHistory – interactive online activities, simulation, interviews and games to learn history in a totally different way in the 21st century classroom

Resources for History Teachers – an award-winning wiki by Robert Maloy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a multimedia/multicultural wikispace for teachers and students,created by teachers and students

EyeWitness To History – collections of visual resources in learning history for “a picture is 1000 words”

The Flow of History has several hundred pages of information describing the “flow of history”, there is even an App, the introduction from the site:

As a history teacher at University High School in Urbana, Illinois since 1979, I have developed a method for teaching history, using a series of about 200 cross-referenced flowcharts and over 100 powerpoint multimedia lecture outlines to help students see history as a dynamic process of causes and effects, not just a meaningless list of names and dates.

Center for Civic Education is an independent, nonprofit organization based in California with a network of program coordinators in every state and congressional district in the country and in more than seventy emerging and advanced democracies throughout the world. The mission of the Center is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry that is committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries. The Center administers a wide range of critically acclaimed curricular, teacher-training, and community-based programs in conjunction with civic educators and activists around the world.

The Economics of Seinfeld Uses clips (as well as clips from other television shows or movies) to make economic concepts come alive, making them more real for students. Ultimately, students will start seeing economics everywhere. It’s developed by economics professors from Eastern Illinois University and Baker University.

EconEDlink – online economic and personal finance lessons and resources for educators, students, and afterschool providers.

The Learning Network from The New York Times is the resources for teaching based on New York Times content, with lesson ideas and quizzes on news.

Times for Kids – teaching resources from Times.

KQED Public Media’s website has a small section of its Ed Space pages dedicated to short current events-based Do Now activities that teachers can use in their classrooms. For more in-depth lesson ideas you should explore KQED’s curriculum bank where you can search for lessons by subject and grade level. (info. from Richard Byrne)

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States’ government functions. In “How a Member Decides to Vote” students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen.

Free Documentary TV – there are 1737 free documentaries  in a variety of genres listed at the site and the number is continually growing, great resources for teaching with documentaries

The Glencoe/McGraw Hill Companies published a commonly used US History textbook : The American Journey Modern Times. To accompany that textbook Glencoe/ McGraw Hill hosts an online video library containing more than five dozen titles.

History Animated provides animations of the American Revolution, the US Civil War, and the US Pacific Campaign in WWII. In the three series of animations you will see the animated movement of armies displayed on a map, accompanied by captions describing the strategies of the armies as well as the results and consequences of each battle.

“America, A Narrative History” is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History, providing history lessons within a geographic context.

Journey of Mankind – This interactive web site from the Bradshaw Foundations depicts the global journey of modern man over the past 160,000 years. This maps shows the interaction of migration and climate over this period.

Shmoop is a very imaginative online learning community. Their free open resources are primarily in history, literature, and social sciences. This presentation is from Shmoop:

Go Social Studies Go is a site developed by Kenneth Udhe, a social studies teacher in Michigan. It’s an excellent resource for middle school social studies teachers The site is divided into four main sections; World Geography, World Religions, Ancient History, and Colonial America. Within each section is a series of booklets containing text, pictures, videos, and links to additional resources.

Pare Lorentz Center (at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library) offers free access to multimedia history instruction resources for an enhanced understanding of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the life and times of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. There are interactive timeline, distance learning opportunities(video conferencing between the Pare Lorentz Center and classrooms anywhere in the world), video curriculum guides, and a web-friendly film library containing Lorentz’s body of works and other historical footage. (by Filmmaker Pare Lorentz)

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. The High School Division includes 185,000 members in 5,000 schools. The Collegiate Division (formerly known as Delta Epsilon Chi) includes over 15,000 members in 200 colleges and universities. Teachers and students can join the membership programs with very small fees.

Whatif History Project – Counterfactual or alternate history is a fringe topic amongst academic historians.  However, as a class activity it opens up the world of history for inquiry, investigation and creativity.


7 Useful YouTube Channels for History Teachers

7 Places to Find & Watch Documentaries Online

Use Game-Based Learning to Teach Civics (Edutopia)

6 Cool Interactive Sites To Learn More About American History (from – awesome interactive resources to learn the following topics in depth:

Tools for History Class

TimeRime allows users to create timelines that incorporate text, images, audio, and video, you can embed the timeline in a blog or share it via email, available in English and Spanish.

Historypin – Users can search images by geography / time and post historic photos with stories to maps. It’s a website where people everywhere could share their old photos and the stories behind them, pinning them to a map of the world.

Scribble Maps lets anyone can draw and type on a map with all of the zoom options and most of the search options available on Google Maps, Scribble Maps Pro allows you to import KML files, import spreadsheets, and import SHP files. Watch this video to see these options in action.

BeebIt – it allows you to install a toolbar plug-in in their internet browser that identifies key terms from the web pages they are reading and suggests a wide range of related BBC resources.

BBC News Globe – it is a continuously rotating globe that displays news from two popular RSS feeds published by the BBC, it reads RSS feeds from BBC news and then plots points on the globe each time it comes across a place name in one of the stories. It could be adapted to read any RSS feed.

Newspaper Map – it lets you find and translate 10000 newspapers on Google map

Mapping America – Census data by zip code, it offers four categories of maps that you can explore; education, housing and families, income, and race and ethnicity

Digital Research Tools Wiki (DiRT) – this wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars (particularly in the humanities and social sciences) conduct research more efficiently or creatively. Whether you need software to help you manage citations, author a multimedia work, or analyze texts, there is a directory of tools organized by research activity, as well as reviews of select tools.

Think Insights with Google is a relatively new Google service aimed at providing businesses with information about current trends in consumer behavior. Think Insights provides tools for discovering trends, monitoring trends, and it provides a public research library. (from Richard Byrne)


9 Responses »


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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