My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students

A few years ago I published a list of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. Since then, a few things have changed, namely Google has shut down some great tools, so I think it’s time to update the list. In no particular order, here are my ten best tools for social studies teachers and students.

JS schedule
Timeline projects are as old as history itself. It used to be that timelines were made only on paper. Today, students can create timetables that include videos, audio recordings, photos, and interactive maps. JS schedule It is the best tool for creating multimedia timelines today.


One of the challenges of giving students primary or secondary articles to read on their own is figuring out how long they actually take to read the articles and how well they read. Readlee is a service that solves this problem. With a free Readlee account, you can assign articles to students and they have to read them aloud on their computer. Readlee tracks the speed at which students read along with information about total words read and unique words read. Here’s a video overview of Readlee.

JS StoryMap
JS StoryMap Produced by the same people who make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS allows students to tell stories through a combination of maps and timelines. In StoryMap JS, you create segments that correspond to the locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos with text.

Google Earth
Google Earth is available in two versions. The Pro version is the one that you can install on your desktop. This is the version I prefer if chosen because it includes more features than the web browser version. Students and educators can use Google Earth Pro to record narrated tours and place historical images on top of existing map views. Here is one of my favorite activities on Google Earth For middle and high school. This is my online course All about Google Earth and Maps.

google books
This is an often overlooked research tool. Google Books provides students with access to millions of free books and periodicals. Google Books really shines when you start looking for work that was published in the 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the best features of Google Books is the ability to search within the book for a phrase or keyword.

the documents
the documents It is a free service provided by the US National Archives. With DocsTeach, you can create online activities based on primary sources from the National Archives. Your students can complete the activities online. Don’t let the fact that the service is provided by the National Archives fool you into thinking it can only be used for US history lessons. You can upload any basic resource you want to your DocsTeach account to develop an online archiving activity. DocsTeach offers over a dozen activity templates that you can follow to develop your core source-based lessons. watch this video Learn more about DocsTeach.

When I taught social studies I loved using videos as part of current events lessons. I also loved using excerpts from documentary videos. If you use videos in the same way, EDpuzzle It is a tool that you need to try. EDpuzzle allows you to add questions directly to the video timeline. Here is my video overview of how to use EDpuzzle.

If you want your students to make short videos in documentary style, WeVideo It’s hard to beat. It works on Chromebooks, Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac (although if you have a Mac, iMovie is just fine). Those who have upgraded WeVideo accounts can even do it Use it to make green screen videos.

scribble maps

Scribble Maps is a multimedia mapping tool that I recommend when someone asks for an alternative to Google Earth or Google Maps for Students. scribble maps It is a free tool for creating custom online multimedia maps. scribble maps It provides a variety of base layer maps on which you can draw manually, add placemarks, add image overlays, and write across the map. Scribble Maps will work in a web browser on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. in Video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use scrabble maps.


canvas They can be used to make everything from an infographic to a presentation to a website to a video and many things in between. In the context of social studies, I used Canva to do this Create multimedia timelines and for Create vintage travel posters Based on public domain images found in These groups.

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