Social studies was not my favorite school subject…to put it mildly. Most of what I remember from those classes is being rudely awakened—repeatedly—by the sound of the clanging "change classes" bell. But today, the learning environment is changing daily in new and exciting ways. Today, social studies can be taught through games, interactive lessons, videos, stories and more. Perhaps if I were back in school today, I would even be eager to learn more, motivated by these great, free social studies apps. If you have a student who doesn't quite yet grasp the importance of social studies in the greater school curricula—or a student who has fallen in love with history or geography and just can't get enough—either way, these free apps will be much appreciated!

1. iAmerica

This fabulous, free app pulls information directly from "the horse's mouth" sources, including the White House. The list of presidential bios, for instance, comes right from the WH website. The app covers U.S. historical high points, historical references for both the Senate and the House of Representatives and a full resource library of various federal agencies from the FBI to the CIA, to the U.S. Visitor Service Center.

2. History: Maps of the World

The only con for this app is that there is no Android equivalent—here is hoping the developer will create one soon. The app earns rave reviews from students, teachers and maps hobbyists of all ages. For any student or teacher of historical geography, this is clearly the app to download.

3. U.S. History Timeline

Although by two different developers, these two apps are very similar in information and both have excellent reviews. Each offers an overview of the most important historical events in U.S. history in timeline form.

4. Today's Document

This app, developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, lists 365 of the most important historical documents in our national archives. Students can actually view digital versions of each document and perform searches to locate specific documents or use the "Surprise Me!" feature to view documents at random. Learn more at the website:

5. The Lincoln Telegrams

This free app is part of the larger Lincoln Telegrams project, which has compiled and archived 324 different telegrams written over 397 days and written by President Lincoln himself. The app works hand in hand with the free Wiki that offers transcriptions and telegrams analysis: Learn more at the website:

6. US/50 States

Here again, while these two apps originate from different developers, the information offered is equally useful for students who are studying detailed information on America's 50 states. Learn about capitals, state symbols (bird, flower, etc.), flags and more.

7. World Countries/Countries of the World

These two very similar apps by different developers provide students with a rich source of data for studying all the different countries. From GDP information to the country flags, major religion and political affiliations, predominant languages spoken, cultural information and more, both apps also offer helpful quiz games for students preparing to take tests.

8. Smithsonian Channel

This great app by the Smithsonian Institute provides a vast database of educational videos, including documentaries of great historical figures, important timeline dates in history and much more. Videos also include historical explorations in fields like science, nature and world culture.

9. Fotopedia Heritage

Fotopedia Heritage provides brilliant, full-color photography from around the world. With more than 30 thousand photos in its ever-expanding photo database, this app will bring culture, history, geography and daily life in different parts of the world to life in front of students' eyes. The app was co-created by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The Fotopedia Heritage app is the umbrella app for a series of more focused apps, including Fotopedia Paris, Fotopedia North Korea, Fotopedia China, Fotopedia Italy, Fotopedia Japan and many more. The only downside to this wonderful resource is that as of yet, there is no Android counterpart available.


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KCL’s Top 9 Picks for the Best Free Social Studies Apps for Kids