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Today we’re going to continue with our Best Apps Series. We’re going to talk about the best apps for history. There are hundreds of apps available, but not all apps have real educational value. There are plenty of science and math apps available; however, when it comes to apps for history, the selection isn’t nearly as extensive. In fact, I had trouble finding 10 apps for history which fit the criteria for my list.
I did find two apps so full of information that I’ve shared them even though they are only available for iOS devices. My advice for those of us who primarily use Android and/or Kindle is to contact the publisher via the website and let them know you’d really love to see their app available for your platform. I’ve made it easy for you to do so by including links to the website for that app below.
Best Apps for History
#1 Stack the States
Stack the States is a great app for history. It makes learning about the 50 states fun for kids and adults! Kids won’t grow tired of this app as they learn about the states with 5 colorful and interactive game options. They’ll learn state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, flags, and more. Game options include:
Stack The States: Build tall piles with states and try to reach the checkered line.
Map It: Tap the location of the selected state on the map. Try to complete the whole country.
Pile Up: The states are piling up! Tap them quickly to get rid of them before they pile too high.
Puzzler: Sit back and relax as you slide the states around and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Capital Drop: Match states with their capitals in this fast-paced bonus game. Don’t let a state fall!
There are no 3rd party ads or in-app purchases.
- Best Kids App for iPad! -Best App Ever Awards
- Best Educational Game App – iEAR.org
In App Purchases: No
Supports Family Sharing: Yes
#2 Stack the Countries
What Stack the States is for US history, Stack the Countries is for world history! This app definitely makes learning about the world fun! Countries come to life for kids as they learn country capitals, landmarks, geographic locations, and more. What really makes both Stack the States and Stack the Countries interactive is kids can actually touch, move, and drop the animated countries anywhere on the screen. The goal is to collect all 193 countries. Learn about the different countries from flash cards and colorful interactive maps of the continents. Then, use this knowledge to play 3 different games. Game options include:
Stack The Countries™: Build tall piles of countries and try to reach the checkered line.
Map It: Tap the location of the selected country on the map. Try to complete the whole continent!
Pile Up: The countries are piling up! Identify and tap them quickly to get rid of them before they reach the top.
There are no 3rd party ads and no in-app billing.
Editor’s Choice Award! – Children’s Technology Review
In App Purchases: No
Supports Family Sharing: Yes
#3 GeoBee Challenge
GeoBee Challenge is a great app for kids in grades 4-8. It’s a great app for history that will prepare kids for the National Geographic Bee. Most adults could use a good challenge too. You’ll find beautiful maps from National Geographic so you can explore the world while testing your smarts. The question is, “Are you smarter than a 4th grader?” Play GeoBee Challenge with your kids and find out!
There are three types of game play. Kids won’t get bored; and, best of all, they have lots of chances to learn and absorb new facts. Game Options include:
Multiple Choice: In the multiple-choice round, answers come from a library of more than 1,000 National Geographic Bee questions.
Map Challenge: In the map challenge round, you zoom, pinch, and tap your way to find spots on an interactive map from a catalog of 1,000+ locations.
Bonus Round: For an added challenge, bonus rounds include compelling National Geographic photographs where you have to locate what’s in the photo on the interactive map…you have to figure out where the photo was taken or what is in the picture!
- MOBI Award Finalist- Best Mobile Game 2010
In App Purchases: Yes
Supports Family Sharing: Yes
#4 Frontier Heroes – A Planet H game from HISTORY
It’s great when you find an app that has educational value and is fun for kids. That’s sort of hard to find when you’re searching for apps that teach history. But, Frontier Heroes really nails it. Frontier Heroes is part of Planet H — a new brand from HISTORY. Frontier Kids walks kids through five exciting eras of American history. Kids play dozens of mini-games, and experience what it was like to expand the boundaries of the American frontier. Kids will work their way through American history from pre-Colonial days through the California Gold Rush. They complete challenges specific to each era to unlock the next adventures. Along the way, they unlock “Did You Knows” to learn interesting facts about America. I do want to mention this app runs as a progression. Kids need to master a section in order to “unlock” the next section for the game to progress. Some kids thrive on this sort of challenge; however, if your child becomes easily frustrated by games that work this way, I’d skip this app.
#5 Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome
This app is from the Encyclopedia Britannica. That in itself made me excited because I was fairly certain I would find the content appropriate for the entire family. And I was right! With Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome, kids learn all about the rise of the Roman empire. They learn about the Caesars, the Gladiators, Roman Gods, and the Roman Republic in an interactive environment with games like Memory Match, Jigsaw Puzzles, and the Magic Square. Kids have access to lots of amazing images, videos, and informative articles. They are even able to email images they find interesting to their friends!
#6 Today in History
Today in History gives you facts and images to over 100,000 historical items so you can set notifications to receive daily updates based on events that YOU might find interesting. Get all the important events of the day, or narrow your selection down to one specific categories: Events, Births, Deaths, Holidays, and more. If people from history inspire you, “Quote of the Day” will share a quote daily from amazing historic figures. These quotes can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. This is definitely one of the best apps for history buffs!
- Winner of Parents’ Choice Gold Award
#7 A&C: Paul Revere’s Ride
Part video game, part history lesson, Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is definitely one of the best apps for history for elementary and middle school age kids. Kids join Ansel, a friendly intergalactic photographer from the planet Virtoos, and Clair, a Virtoosian robot. Together they journey back to 1775 to learn about the American Revolution. They travel along with Paul Revere on his historic midnight ride through the Massachusetts countryside. There is so much fun in this app, it’s impossible for me to cover it all. Some of my favorite features are:
Who’s Who Photo booth: Here kids see short & fun biographies of key people.
Touch and Drag Camera: Take 15 photos of key events, places, and people such as the Boston Tea Party, Old North Church, John Hancock.
Integrated “Touch and Drag” Locator: Lets kids see maps of key locations like Paul Revere’s House, Boston Tea Party site, Town of Concord, and more!
Mini-Games: In addition to being fun these games help explain key concepts and provide additional context.
- 2013 Creative Child Media of the Year Award
- 2012 Mom’s Choice Award
- 12 Best Children’s Educational iPad Apps Released in 2012– Teachers with Apps
#8 Britannica Kids: Aztec Empire
Aztec Empire was developed around Britannica’s exclusive curriculum-based content. That means kids get high quality images, videos, and interactive learning games. It’s is the perfect app for learning about the rise of the ancient civilization founded by nomadic farmers to the reign of Montezuma II and eventual fall to Hernán Cortés in an engaging way. Some of the feature that place this app on my best apps for history list are:
Map: The map tool lets you locate where you are anywhere in the world. Easily locate and use the zoom feature to see the Aztec Ruins up close.
Jigsaw Puzzles: These puzzles are created from beautiful images of Aztec artifacts. Break apart the puzzle by simply shaking your device. Then, slide the pieces back into place to complete the puzzle.
The Magic Square Game: This game also uses images of Aztec art. Scramble the puzzle by shaking your device. Challenge yourself by re-arranging the squares to unscramble the image.
Brush Off: Brush the layers to reveal images of Aztec objects and then try to guess what those objects are.
Quiz feature: Test your knowledge on the Aztec Empire to see how much have you learned with the quiz feature. You’ll need to be quick, this quiz is timed!
Memory Match Game: Find a pair and match it up!
Kids can explore more if they want to continue learning beyond the app. They can link to Britannica’s online services, Britannica Kids Online, or Britannica Online. You’ll want to check out those sites and give permission to your child to go beyond the app. Be sure your child knows your family policy on this.
- Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award
- Best App for Teaching & Learning-The American Association of School Librarians
#9 Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab
Why feature Thomas Edison’s Secret lab in a listing of 10 best apps for history as opposed to 10 best apps for science? Good question. We know Thomas Edison as one of the greatest inventors of all time. In this app, kids explore a secret lab and play games, and they learn a great deal about Thomas Edison and his contributions to science. Kids also are introduced to many other great scientists, including Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Sir Isaac Newton and many more. For each scientist, players will learn about inventions and discoveries, their biography, a fun fact, and a famous quote. There’s plenty to keep kids engaged in this app. Some of the fun features you’ll find are:
Games: Play wacky games: Honey Bee Spree, Kafloooey Ka-Splat, Von Bolt’s Circuit Switch.
The Secret Lab: Play with interactive laboratory equipment and discover amazing science experiments and projects you can do at home!
Library: Learn about Scientists and Inventors: their work, biography, discoveries and inventions. You’ll also find an interactive animated gallery of famous Scientists and Inventors here.
Theater: View videos starring Thomas Edison and the Secret Lab Kids.
Thomas Edison’s Secret lab is safe for young learners! There are no social media sharing options, no in-app purchases, and no 3rd party ads.
#10 Timeline History
I’m going to break from my rule of sharing only apps that go beyond one platform. I feel so strongly about it and yet here I am eating my words. But, I have a serious history lover in my family. And, somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to omit this app from my list simply because it’s only available for iOS. Those who know me, know I’m an Android girl. So the fact I’m even sharing this app say a lot. Seriously! I truly believe this app belongs on my list of the best apps for history. I also believe Ballista Digital Ltd should make it available for Android and Kindle. So feel free to email them and request ever so nicely that they consider it.
Timeline History is four of the top history apps in one! This series of apps brings together video, images, maps, and writing on four of the most iconic periods in history. WW2, WW1, American Civil War, and Medieval Castles. Here are a few of my favorite features:
Timelines: These timelines are interactive. And, don’t worry about running out of material. There are 1000’s of events to explore!
Film: View 100 British Pathé, US, and International film clips. There are also clips from the Discovery TV series ‘Battle Castles’.
Images: See images from incredible battles to medieval manuscripts.
Search and filter: Explore events and themes that interest you easily using the search option.
Interactive Map: Search and locate information on countries, events, and battles around the world. Then view the location of the events on the timeline.
#11 ICIVICS: ARGUMENT WARS
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
If your child wants to improve their debate skills or just gain a deeper understanding of our country’s court system, Argument Wars is the perfect app for them. In this popular app, players test their persuasive skills by arguing real supreme court cases. This educational app includes informative tidbits about each case in the database, in addition to tips on how your child can improve their argument as they continue through the trial. A variety of famous court cases are included in this free app, including Bond v. United States, Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, Miranda v. Arizona, Snyder v. Phelps, and Texas v. Johnson. The app also includes valuable learning objectives, such as:
- Analyzing the arguments presented in each of the landmark Supreme Court cases
- Evaluating the support for each argument to understand whether each piece of information is relevant and if the argument’s reasoning is sound
- Recognizing how each case connects with the Constitution and previous Supreme Court precedent
#12 OREGON TRAIL
Recommended Ages: 9 to 14
Kids will get the opportunity to navigate a wagon across the American frontier in this classic historical simulation game. Players must travel through rocky terrain, cross rivers, take care of their family, hunt for food, and secure supplies, just like westward travels of days gone by. This timeless game has tons of opportunities for learning throughout the interactive app. In addition to tackling problem-solving skills, players also get the chance to learn about life during Westward expansion. Popular historical figures, including Sitting Bull and Samuel Morse, also make an appearance in the game’s storyline. The app version of this classic PC game features social gaming options and in-app purchases, which can be disabled when playing offline.
#13 The Pyramids
Recommended Age Range: 10 & up
Here is another app that is only available for Apple devices. But, it’s such a good app I want to share it. Maybe Touch Press Media will consider making their apps available for Android and Kindle devices in the future. It never hurts to ask.
Give your kids a chance to tap into their inner archaeologist as they discover the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. This high-quality app allows users to travel in and out of the chambers of the Great Pyramid, view the hieroglyphics on the walls of the Tomb of Meresankh and see the Sphinx up-close. With detailed 3D graphics and stunning high definition photography, your students will feel like they’re actually traveling through Egypt as they view the artifacts throughout the Giza plateau. The app also features an informative digital book, which outlines the history of the pyramids, as well an interactive gallery filled with interesting artifacts.