Finding good history apps is not easy. There are a number of apps that seem geared to younger students, but what if you need something for older kids? It took time, but I found eight terrific apps for elementary or middle school students. Most of the apps are for American History, but I did manage to find a few for World History.
Cost: $4.99 each
Focus: U.S. History
This is another fantastic app by Alexandre Minard! If you have played his geography apps, the history apps are set up the same way. (He also has French History and British History.) Players create a profile, which tracks their progress in the three modes: adventure, learning, and challenge. In training mode, the user can explore timelines, thumbnails, and time periods, as well as take quizzes on U.S. history, presidents, and wars or sort events in time order. In the challenge mode, players have to place events on a timeline. The closer the player is to the correct answer, the more points he or she earns. As a students completes a level, he or she earns “armies” that can be used to “conquer” countries on the map – with the goal being to take over the world.
Although this app is a bit pricey, it is worth the cost! I appreciate that students would not only practice facts but also timelines. The variety in the activities would keep players entertained. I also like that teachers can track the progress of different users, so students could be held accountable for their time. I would recommend this app for older students, 5th grade and up.
Availability: Apple & Android
Focus: U.S. Elections
I really loved this app! In this app, players select a candidate and actually plan their campaign for the presidency. The game can be played against the computer, with friends, in a public game, or simply pass the device to play with friends. Teachers could easily have students play for a few minutes each day, as the election is completed in rounds. Users can choose to be a Democrat, Republican, or Independent candidate. The candidate options appear to be from the 2008 – 2016 elections. An election can be played with up to five candidates. However, the election goes on for quite a while, so I would personally limit games to 3 players. Each candidate is given so much money to spend on their campaign each round. He or she can choose to spend it in different states or in national or state groups.
This is a really fantastic app for teaching the election process. Players have to form a strategy in order to win 270 delegates. The strategy might include courting groups such as the gun lobby or the youth vote, or focusing on states groups such as the swing states or Latino vote. The only cons I could see for a classroom is that the completely an election takes quite a while, and it did take time to understand how to play. Teachers should really play a game first before using it with students. However, for a free app this is a terrific game! This would be great in a middle or high school civics/government class.
Cost: Free, additional topics for $0.99
Focus: World History
I will admit, this app is fun but a bit limited as far as classroom use. Basically the app has history organized by category, and each category has questions related to the topic. The nice thing about this app is the user practices timelines. The questions give an event, and students have to place it on the timeline. The closer the answer is to the actual date, the more stars he or she earns. At the end of the quiz, if the user has enough stars, a book is placed on their bookshelf. A paragraph of information is also given when the correct answer is shown.
The main cons of this app are that the questions repeat over and over again if the user selects the same category. It is also really geared toward high school level history – at least according to Florida Standards. Another con for teachers is the lack of tracking for different users. Finally, for me, I think the app would be better with a variety of questions instead of only timeline questions. In general, I think it is a fun app for history buffs or for someone who wants to practice particular time periods. For a free app it is fun to test yourself and see what you know.
Focus: U.S. Presidents
This app is by the same company that made Stack the States. I really wasn’t sure about the app at first, but it is a lot of fun. The game is a cross between a quiz app and Angry Birds. The questions on the presidents are actually pretty challenging. If the user answers the question correctly, he or she gets the president’s head to throw at the aliens. To pass the level, all of the aliens need to be knocked out of the sky. As players complete levels, they earn a president As more presidents are earned, new games are unlocked.
This game is actually really fun. It is a little bit weird, but what kid doesn’t want to throw presidents at aliens? Figuring out the angles needed to hit the aliens can be tricky, but students in 5th grade and up would enjoy playing this game. (4th graders may also enjoy the game if they have learned a lot of history – some of the questions are pretty difficult.)
Cost: $1.99 each; $5.99/bundle
Focus: U.S. History or World History
This company makes good solid quiz games. They are not too expensive but review a lot of facts with players. The app gives the user immediate feedback by showing the correct answer when the wrong one is picked. The app also repeats questions from different levels, forcing the user to review information. The answers do scramble when the questions repeat, which prevents users from simply memorizing the location of the correct response.
The biggest con to this app is that it only quizzes the player’s knowledge – there is nothing in the app that teaches users information. Another con is that it can get a bit repetitive – it really just continually shows questions.
Availability: Apple or website
Focus: U.S Geography or World Geography
Okay, I am cheating by including this app, but I could see teachers using this app or website as an exit ticket or for students to create a word cloud to go along with a historical summary. There are a lot of word cloud apps and sites, but this app was free and relatively easy to use. I also liked that it was also available on a website for teachers who cannot use apps.
Teachers could have students brainstorm all of the key words relating to a history topic, then have them make a word cloud to put in their notes. Students could then write short descriptions of each word.
I found a bunch of these history games pretty addicting. I can tell that I will be running presidential campaigns until my candidate nearly sweeps the map! What is your favorite history app?