Homework Help - Social Studies
The following products, websites and apps offer a birds-eye view into our past and the world around us.
Upon opening the app, the entire screen is filled with color and "It's a Small World" begins playing while children from all over the world "decorate" the title. When you click the start button, a little hot air balloon filled with children floats across the screen and a child says "Away we go!". As it floats away, the screen is taken over by scenes of children around the world. If you don't touch the screen, the animated images move across the screen from left to right. This little world is truly interactive. If the child touches one of the children on the screen, the child responds with a giggle, a kiss or a wave. In each sequence, a child speaks the words to the song as they scroll along the bottom of the screen. The graphics are beautiful and engaging. It has the potential to spark questions about what children do in different parts of the world, as many countries on different continents are represented.
Wander Our World is a solid map app for children. Fly around the world to locations on every content with the swish of a finger. Choose a continent by double tapping it, and select a country within the continent. Children can see the flag and several photos from each country. They'll also hear music paired to the region, though it will be a song chosen by the app developer and will not be the national anthem. The app is a fun way to become acquainted with world geography, and we would love to see a future version that contained facts about each country selected for investigation.
Cognitive Kid, Inc.,
Explore Africa and learn about its flora, fauna, people, and history in this content-packed app. Ansel and Clair are aliens trying to rebuild their ship named Marley, which has crashed over the continent. The first challenge of the app is to find Africa on the globe. Once there, children can pick which part of the continent to visit. Within each scene, question marks appear above landmarks, animals, geographic features, and cultural objects. Little touches and minigames add magic. Memorable objects can be photographed and kept in the game’s travel log.
Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship ... and More Stories to Celebrate U.S. History is a collection of four wonderful children's books, each uniquely illustrated and narrated by celebrities including James Earl Jones and Danny Glover. The stories include optional read-along captions, helping to build early-reading skills while also introducing children to pivotal historical figures and events. An exceptional value at $14.95 for over 80 minutes of programming adds up to a remarkable viewing experience at home or in the elementary classroom.
The book and CD set let children follow along with a narrated version of Laurie Keller's book, The Scrambled States of America, the story about the day that the 50 states decided to change places and things don't go as well as expected.
Tourism sites with areas for kids abound, but few are as well designed, educational and out-and-out fun as this one. The creators of the Colonial Williamsburg Kids Zone clearly took the time necessary to figure out what would both captivate their young audience and encourage them to participate in the site. Multicultural, modern characters welcome visitors and introduce them to historical figures and areas around Colonial Williamsburg. An interactive "Tour the Town" map (requires Flash player) allows for building-by-building exploration with layers of increasingly detailed information available without being overwhelming. A Parents and Teachers section is packed with valuable information for adults, including electronic field trips, study visits, lesson plans and the option to subscribe to a free e-newsletter and Teacher Gazette.
The 2002 book If the World Were a Village is brought to life in this thought-provoking DVD beautifully narrated by Jackie Richardson. Based on a world population of 6 billion + people the question is asked: If the World Were a Village of 100 people, what would it look like? The book examines many aspects of culture including religion, race, language and econonomics.The stats are fascinating. Not only would any social studies, geography, civics or history classes benefit from taking a class break to watch this, but your child at home will suddenly see the world in a new perspective. It shows the world without judgment - strictly from the numbers - and with that comes the feeling that whatever our circumstances in life, we are just one group among many in the world.
National Geographic Digital Media Kids,
The National Geographic Kids site is chock full of captivating videos and content. The "Animal and Pets" section and "Countries" section in particular have hundreds of videos that my kids loved watching. The written content is also thorough and educational, but many kids will favor the videos. The National Geographic site has dozens of games. Additional site features include a section for kids to upload videos with parent permission, and another one including videos with Mandarin Chinese narration.
Play a new version of ''Go Fish,'' honing your skills of strategy and memory, and discover Ancient Egypt as you play. Learn about their gods, goddesses, the great pharaohs, how mummies were made, and more. Includes dramatic images and facts on every playing card, and a fact-packed companion book included with the game.
DK Publishing, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
This book gives a comprehensive overview of the voting process in government-how it has changed through history, and how it differs in republics around the world. Includes a giant wall chart and a CD of clip-art.
Workman Publishing, $14.95 (Hard Cover)
If kids think pus and gas are fun, wait until they hear the lowdown on the real Dracula, samurai, gladiators, guillotines and vomitoriums, pirates, Vikings, witch trials, and the world’s poxiest plagues. Impeccably researched, deliciously wry, and subversively educational (check out the toilet-paper timeline), OH, YIKES! covers people, events, institutions, and really bad ideas, alphabetically from April Fool’s Day to zany Zoos. Topped off with hundreds of illustrations and photographs along with hands-on activities that bring the past to life, OH, YIKES! puts the juice in history in a way that makes it irresistible.
Who knew Abe Lincoln had a high, squeaky voice. . . or that Ulysses S. Grant could ride a horse while standing on its back by the time he was five years old? Along with the very solid historical content, these humorous nuggets of information will help students see past presidents as real people; human beings with great accomplishments-but also human frailties, and even amusing foibles. Expert interviews provide context and commentary and include a fantastic mix of notables ranging from esteemed academics to former White House Aid Paul Begala and legendary journalists Bob Woodward and Sam Donaldson.
Disney Educational Productions is proving itself to be the high-water-mark of educational media - and they continue to shine with The American Presidents: The First Eleven Presidents. This 45-minute DVD is a superb blend of motion graphics, animation, sound effects, sight-gags, and interviews with top-notch experts, giving kids a glimpse at our first eleven presidents as they've never seen them before. For all its music, humor, and animation, history is front and center in this series, with carefully plotted vignettes highlighting each president's accomplishments and his challenges. Expert interviews provide context and commentary, with notables ranging from Pulitzer-prize winning author Jon Meacham to political commentator Mo Rocca. It all adds up to a fulfilling mix of political and personal information, something sure to make the characters memorable. In addition, the DVD includes an Interactive Whiteboard feature to test students' knowledge, and content is in line with National Curriculum Standards for grades 3 - 8.
Virtual travel is one of the Internet’s finest offerings, putting foreign cultures and exotic lands at anyone’s fingertips. The educators at ProjectExplorer go one better by delivering high-quality, educational and entertaining adventures to destinations around the world online for students. Put away the textbook because ProjectExplorer isn’t like that. This free and high-impact educational site provides virtual travelogues about other nations and cultures. Designed for students from upper elementary school through high school and beyond, ProjectExplorer lets students to choose their own grade-range level to visit any of four Complete Adventures and four QuickTrips to nations ranging from Mexico and India to England and Trinidad. All grade levels access the same countries, but the content for each level is grade appropriate.
Silver Dolphin Books, $18.95 (Hard Cover)
Ever dream of taking a trip around the world? Now curious kids can do just that without ever leaving the comforts of home with this amazing new interactive 3-D atlas. Spinning Globe World Atlas combines a traditional fact-rich atlas with a spinning globe for a truly revolutionary geography lesson. Alongside a moveable globe of the world, kids can view stunning full-color photographs of important geographical features and historical sites, study fold-out maps of all the countries and regions on earth, and even test their knowledge with fun interactive quizzes. Geographical details are enriched with interesting cultural facts and insights. Perfect for young explorers!
The Ravensburger Children's Globe PuzzleBall is a unique combination of puzzle and learning tool. The kit includes 180 sturdy, plastic pieces that fit perfectly together to form a twenty centimeter globe. The globe shows country names, landmarks and popular local animals. It also comes with a rotating stand so that children can use the puzzle as a working globe.
Calliope's sub title is "Exploring World History," and it does exactly that, making cultures and civilizations from the distant past and elsewhere not only interesting but relevant. Whether the magazine is analyzing Homer's "Odyssey," investigating what happened to Louis-Charles, the disappeared son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, examining the lore of vampires, or debunking the legend of Paul Revere's ride, it probes the past the way historians do-always asking questions.
If your child is a young Ken Burns, say, or an up-and-coming historian who can't get enough of the Civil War or stories about American presidents or the early years of the space program, Cobblestone not only will encourage that intrigue with the past, it will broaden it into all sorts of fascinating areas of American history. Each of the nine issues is largely focused on a single topic, from the "Early Explorers" to an entire issue about money. One recent issue was totally about the year 1861 and the Civil War, with features ranging from the slavery debate and Lincoln's speeches to the fall of Fort Sumner and International involvement in the war. Departments in that issue included a "Mapping It" (a double-page map of the Union, Confederate and Border states), "Going Global" (what was happening elsewhere in the world in 1861), "Did You Know" (tidbits and curiosities from 1861), and "Digging Deeper" (other relevant books and online resources).
This magazine has a distinct social studies focus. It concentrates on American culture, but it also features other places worldwide. Each issue contains articles and activities related to a central theme. Recent themes include Haiti, the Rocky Mountain States, and soccer. The topic is introduced in a column called "High 5" at the front of every issue, spotlighting a roundup of five facts about that theme. Faces is well illustrated with plentiful vivid photos. Regular features include a crossword puzzle, an "Art Connection," and "Critter Corner," which takes an animal-oriented look at the theme (for example, who knew dolphins had so much in common with soccer players?). The magazine is a nice choice for tweens and young teens.
Muse is an arts, science and history magazine published by The Smithsonian and Carus Publishing. It is extremely well done. The content is interesting and educational, and articles are well written with a good dose of wit. The material is presented in an informative and engaging way for curious readers, nine and up. Content in each issue typically revolves around one theme and Muse does a great job of capturing different angles of it through stories artwork and photography. There are no ads.
The Election Edition offers up 14 old favorites, including "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College," "Tax Man Max," "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" and, of course, "I'm Just a Bill." The songs remain as playful and patriotic as ever, the animation is deliciously bright and non-fussy, and since the law remains the law, the information imparted in the songs remains accurate all these years later. Among the extras: an entertaining PSA/song entitled "Presidential Minute," and a downloadable educator's guide with web links. Kids today might find the animation a bit old school, but Schoolhouse Rock represents a unique opportunity for parents to relive their youth while sharing a learning experience with their children.
Disney's History Connections intends to bring the past to life in meaningful ways-and for kids aged ten to fifteen, this installment, Colonial America, strikes just the right chord! The program blends high-end animation, lively hosts, and lots of nods to modern-day art, music, politics and practices that originated during the Colonial era. Students learn about familiar pop culture points and how they're connected to the past, an era that was shaped by the quest for gold, God, and glory. Chances are slim that students will nod off during this high-energy and visually delightful production. This DVD offers a number of features for teachers or homeschoolers, including interactive whiteboard exercises and assessments. It also contains a downloadable educator's guide with activities and resources.
WGBH Teachers' Domain,
While student accounts are available for those aged 13 and older, this site is mainly for educators, including parents who homeschool. The site is a treasure-trove of educational content and professional development, with an online library of more than 1,000 free media resources featuring media from popular public television programs, including NOVA, Frontline, Design Squad, and American Experience, among many others. Content clearly correlates to state and national education standards. Lesson plans and activities available here are appropriate for a wide range of student ages and abilities. Many lesson plans include video clips, and while content easily could stand alone, the relationship to popular PBS programs may be the tipping piece to help engage less motivated students.