High School, Middle School

5 Good iPad Apps for Teachers and Students of U.S. History

As someone who used to teach U.S. History I still get excited when I see iPad apps made specifically for the purpose of helping students understand significant events in U.S. History. The following apps are iPad apps that I’ve enjoyed using over the last year.

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 11.30.15 PMKIDS DISCOVER currently offers fourteen iPad apps for students. The latest KIDS DISCOVER app is about the U.S. Civil War. The content of the app is far superior to the Civil War section of any middle school or elementary school social studies textbooks that I’ve seen. In the app students can read text, listen to audio of things like the Gettysburg Address, and manipulate 3-D objects. The app also includes videos, cartoons, and plenty of historical imagery. Students can tap the images to learn more about the people and places pictured. After working through all of the chapters of the app students can test their knowledge with review quizzes and puzzles.


infinity_ring Infinity Ring is a series of three free iPad apps from Scholastic. The app that I tried was Infinity Ring: Revenge of the Red Coats in which students travel back in time to the War of 1812. In the game students explore Washington D.C. and the White House. The primary mission that students have to complete is to convince Dolley Madison to leave the White House before it is burned. In addition to completing the primary mission of getting Dolley Madison out of the White House there are other mini challenges that get students to think about the War of 1812.



think_fast Think Fast About the Past is a free iPad game about U.S. history. This free iPad app is the companion to the Mission U.S. website that offers interactive journeys through U.S. history.Think Fast About the Past contains two “missions” for students to complete. The first mission is set in Boston in 1770. The mission is to find the mission dog named thimble before time expires. To find Thimble students have to correctly answer a series of questions about political and social topics of the 1770’s and 1780’s. For example, one question asks students how women supported the American Revolution. The second mission in Think Fast About the Past is set in Kentucky in 1850. In this mission students have to answer a series of questions about slavery, abolition, and the Civil War. The object is to answer all of the questions correctly in five minutes or less.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.22.34 PM The National Archives Experience’s Docs Teach interactive tools center and is my favorite teaching tool from the National Archives. The free Docs Teach iPad app allows your students to access and complete a wide range of primary source-based U.S. History lessons. When your students open the app they have an option to browse for a lesson according to time frame and topic or they can enter a class code to complete an activity that you have created specifically for them. To create a Docs Teach activity specifically for your students you will have to create an account on the website. Docs Teach offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data. To get a sense of how each of these activities works you can view existing activities made and shared here by other teachers.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 2.49.48 PM The Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the landmark events discussed in nearly every course covering the Cold War. To The Brink is an excellent free iPad app through which students can learn about the causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy administration’s handling of the crisis. The app uses archival images, videos, documents, and audio recordings to tell the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The app is arranged as a series of pages for students to flip through. On each page there are icons that students can tap to get more information in the forms of documents, images, and videos.

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