Well, here we are on the brink of another holiday and what better time than the present for social studies resources?  As with the other subject area resources we have presented, we invite you to open your mind to the possibilities with cross-curricular resources and how they can be of use to your students in the classroom.  Here we go!

Docs Teach


Docsteach.org is as the title suggests a historical document archive.  However, it has curated lesson plans and activities surrounding many of the articles.   Simply click on the activities link at the top of the page and then search for a topic.   The activities give directions, a synopsis of the activity and even Bloom’s Taxonomy levels for the activity.   Each activity is not only a description, but a basic interactive activity that pulls the activity into a new window and allows the students to proceed through with directions.   Very cool for higher level history students.

Archiving Early America – (Now part of varsitytutors.com)

Archiving Early America – (Now part of varsitytutors.com) is a website devoted to a specific area of history, but certainly invaluable.    A quick search on the site  rendered a digital copy of the local publication in Pennsylvania for July 8, 1776.  The publication pronounced, in its aged parchment, that the Declaration of Independence was signed only 4 days before by members of the continental congress.   The website gives many historical documents through simple searches and also gives fun facts for this day in history.  This site is similar to docsteach in that it provides good document resources however has several ads on it even though the historical content is free.

Eyewitness To History

The_First_Thanksgiving_Jean_Louis_Gerome_FerrisEyewitnesstohistory.com is a collection of historic articles that are given by witnesses to the historical event described.   Obviously there are limitations to a resource that is presented in this manner, but I have found myself attracted to the authenticity of the articles and stories.   Hearing historical events from the first person point of view provides a really interesting perspective that is different from how I learned about them.  On the Spotlight articles section I found an eyewitness account from Edward Winslow that had been curated from other sources.  Winslow described what it was like on the first Thanksgiving near present day Plymouth Massachusetts.

CNN Student News

CNN.com/studentnews is all about current events in the world.  There are 10 minute current events videos created each day for a middle and high school student audience.   2013-11-25_14-06-26The videos are commercial free and are curated on the website as an archive that can be searched and watched later.  iReports are student created video reports that can be sent to CNN and aired on the website.  Teacher resources are also included free that correlate to the video of the day.  This is a great way for students to be active in creating national news reports!

Mission US

Mission USMission-US.org is an interactive immersion game designed to teach US history to elementary students.  In the website, you can choose from three different games based around different historical times.  There are interactive quizzes that can be useful as formative assessments.

Additional Resources

Your Challenge

The first part of your challenge is to not include this phrase or any version of it in your response, “I’m not a social studies teacher, but…”  Remember that we are all charged with teaching the students to learn, regardless of the subject.   Your Challenge is to share how these resources could be used with your students.  If you are not a classroom teacher, please share an idea of how these may be incorporated into a lesson.  If you have any additional Social Studies resources you use, please share them as this is by no means an all-inclusive list of possibilities.  Thanks!


  1. Mission US gave me an idea to that would involve my students, or even better, my students working with our 4th grade students to create a game based loosely on the Mission US games. They would create a website, or possibly use PowerPoint ( I have to play with this a little) to create a game based on Indiana History. We would select a certain time period – lets say the Civil War. Their job is to research the civil war in Indiana. They may want to research Albert Cheatham, a slave who escaped to join the union army. They will build in questions about him where you have to make choices based on what they know about him. This will take some planning, but using the resources above as starting points, I think we could do it. I would like to give the games that we create to Conner Prairie to add as resources to their Civil War website.

  2. I have not used CNN student news before, but I found several articles on Latinos that I can use in the classroom. I think this could be a great resource for me. I also like docteach. It has some neat activities that I think would be fun to create.

  3. I forwarded these resources on to our social studies teachers! There, I didn’t say it. If I had time, I’d have my students watch CNN Student News. They are supposed to have 10 minutes of silent sustained reading the first 10 minutes of the day, but I might have to change that at least one day a week. I think I will also look for just science news.

    On Eyewitness to History, I liked the Photo of the Day. Today’s happens to be about the first inoculations in New York City , which is pretty cool. I looked over the other ones for the past week and they might just be great to have on the screen as the students arrive to class.

  4. These are great resources to have. I love social studies. It is important the students keep up with current events and news so CNN News is a great resource. Even ACT suggests that students know about current events and this would be a great way to learn about them. Students could use the other resources to reinforce what is being taught or for research. I like that it uses Blooms and students can work at different levels. We are encouraged to differentiate learning and this makes it easy.

  5. CNN/Student News is a great resource for all curriculum areas. They have articles about math and science so I could easily incorporate this site into my teaching. Docsteach.org could also be used in science. I tried the topic of energy and found several items dealing with the energy and gas crisis in the U.S. This would provide an historical perspective to studying energy and how it has impacted the U.S.

  6. I love the CNN Student News Site. As far as I can tell all the videos are closed captioned which makes it a tool that is accessible for all students. I also like that free Teacher resources are included that correlate to the video of the day. These videos could be used as writing prompts in English or as an introduction in science, social studies and math.

  7. These resources offer a variety of options for classroom instruction. For example, primary resources from Docs Teach could be compared/contrasted with articles from Eyewitness to History. The games and activities can help to make the social studies content more relevant for the students as they interact with the material. Finally, current event articles can be used across a variety of subject areas as students learn how current events affect various topics of study.

  8. The last two years, the social studies teacher and myself (language arts) worked with our students to complete two DBQ (document-based question) essays during the school year. Each assignment had several primary sources that related to a similar topic or a current/historical event. Students were then given a question which they used to develop their thesis statements. As they planned/wrote their essays, they were required to used facts and quotes from their documents to support their thesis statements. What I would have given the last two years to have these web sources available! They are perfect tools for the social studies teacher and language arts teachers! I will be sure to pass these along!

  9. WOW:) Where were these when I had to teach Social Studies? Thanks for sharing something for the Social Studies folks. I can see incorporating the CNN Student News articles and activites to go along with what they are reading about on Achieve 3000 articles. Our 5th graders need to know the states and capitals and they also do reports on them. The 50 states and capitals page will come in very handy for this. I have added all these to our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Protopage links. They seem as if they are better for those grade levels. Has anyone found anything for the younger grades? I did a webquest from Scholastic last week with grades 3-6 and they really enjoyed it. Here is the link:http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/feast/webquest.htm

  10. As a technology coordinator, I can see students coming into the lab to use this resource for many different subjects. The children will come in and search a topic, like maybe Science topic, they can share activities with other students, and benefit from the activities already listed. They can also benefit from having met a standard for their grade level.

  11. As a history buff, Archiving Early America and Eyewitness to History are amazing resources just for my own information. I especially liked CNN Student News as it’s done in short enough snippets (10 min segments) that students will stay focused, it’s on current events presented in a not-so-dry news format and the fact that students are also “reporters” makes the site one that would hold their interests. This is a great site to get a classroom discussion going on relevant issues of the day.

  12. I think these are great resources that I’m going to use and I’m going to pass on to the Social Studies teacher on my team.

    As a Language Arts teacher, I try to read a fair amount of nonfiction, because I feel that is the hardest genre for my students to fully grasp. I am currently having the students read 5 different biographies, as a part of a literature circle. I believe that I can use Docs Teach and Eyewitness to History as a part of the unit. By having a computer lab as a classroom, the students could access Docs Teach at anytime while they are reading their biography.

    After Christmas, I have the students read a historical fiction book about the earthquake of 1906, so Eyewitness to History will come in handy then as well.

  13. The history teachers at my school have used Mission US and the kids love it! I’m a sucker for primary source documents so the DocsTeach was wonderful. The thought and act of reading through something that people at that time were reading for the first time and/or reading a diary, journal, or news article about an event really can put you right into that time period. Thank you!

  14. I teach 5th grade Social Studies and I think most of these resources would be awesome! I was particularly interested in the Mission US for use with my students during our study of the Revolutionary War. I think it will make it much more real for them to be able to “participate” in the mission. I also think Eye Witness to History will be an excellent resource to teach my students about primary and secondary sources of information. 50 States.com will be a terrific addition to my Geography daily mini lessons.

    A site that I use almost daily is Mr.Nussbaum.com. It has a wealth of activities, lessons, maps, etc. that can be used in the Social Studies classroom. Resources for most other subjects are available on that site as well.

  15. I could see using cnn.com/studentnews in my classroom. I currently use NBCLearn quite often to keep students up to date on the latest news information about science. I also shared several of the websites with the Social Studies teacher at my school.

  16. Every subject has a rich and diverse history behind it. Knowing where we come from is key to helping us understand where we are going or need to go. I have always enjoyed history and love the parts I include in chemistry and physics. This summer I was in London and got to see an original Leonardo da Vinci notebook. I really liked the CNN News and Eyewitness News for stories related to my subject to use as reading/writing assignments that our school requires all classes to do. It helps bring the content into life outside the classroom.

  17. Too often students have no idea about the events of the world. Rather, they are only aware of their personal social world. In high school, I had an English teacher who took 5 minutes every other day to share current events with us. This was huge as most of us would have been clueless without his efforts. If a History or English teacher took the time to share the CNN current events video, they would lend themselves to an instant Blogging/Journaling opportunity (to focus on Grammar, Digital Citizenship, writing skills, summarization, comprehension, understanding, etc).

  18. I love these resources. As a tech coach they will be great to share in one if my curriculum based trainings. I love resources that can be used cross curricular. I look forward to seeing how my teachers use them with their students. They all love Web 2.0 tools.!

  19. Definitely using historic art to share our history is huge. I would use these resources to have the children learn about a time period and then use their imagination to create art that represents what we learned. It may look similar to those on the site but it may also use thought to get their picture across to the viewer. Studying time periods and their influence is big in art so this would be a real easy fit.

  20. These are some really neat sources and they can be used in English as well. As we more to the Common Core, some might have difficulty finding non-fiction sources that fit into the theme of the readings. These sites promise to fill that gap. The one that I really have enjoyed is Eyewitness to History. These are first person accounts and give nice examples of narratives, point of view, perspective, and bias.

  21. Believe it or not…there is a connection to math here. In this video http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/08/studentnews/sn-curriculum-wed/index.html of student news, they talk about how long the Olympic torch has to travel. 40,389 miles! We are about to start learning about different conversions and this would be a great way to see how many steps it would take each student to run that many miles. They could each measure their stride…how many steps it would take them in a mile…then how many it would take to do the Olympic torch run.

    Including a portion of the segment with math and science would be wonderful for the cnn Student News desk. We used to have “Channel One” at the end of each day that would have student like news available. I wonder if theyre still running…

  22. DocsTeach is an excellent resource. I use it in my Business Foundations Class when we are connecting the Industrial and The Great Depression Era’s effect on the Business World in the USA. I use the making Connections and Activities tab …here they go to the above Era’s and there are lots of resources available. The kids like to use this site and I do too.

  23. DocsTeach is a very nice resource! I teach Biology and found a few articles I could easily tie in with ecology chapters..one about the birth of EPA & photos used as evidence for the need of environment laws and governing groups. The only drawback for me…these require JavaScript, which will not run on students’ iPads.

    Eyewitness to News caught my attention. I’ll keep watching that one for topics related to my class….hoping to find first hand accounts to historical science experiments.

    CNN Student News also a useful source for a quick, current story that could introduce almost any classroom topic.

  24. We watch and discuss CNN Student News every day to get our daily dose of Carl. I also found both Docs Teach and Eyewitness to History had activities to use in conjunction with American literature. “Farm Wife 1900” found on Eyewitness to History will work well with Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers while “The Effects of Food Regulation in the Progressive Era” found on Docs Teach will go well with Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. I go to EDSITEment [edsitement,neh.gov] when I’m looking for activities and lessons based in the humanities.

  25. CNN Student News is an excellent resource. I try to keep my students up-to-date by incorporating current events into our discussions and assignments. For example, I am currently teaching summarizing. Instead of summarizing old materials, I upload current news articles the students can read and summarize.

    The Student News is fun and entertaining. The host injects humor (and bad puns) into the show. I’ve found the students actually look forward to it. When I’m trying to have a current events discussion, I can simply load the news and watch my students enjoy learning. After ten minutes, my classes can talk about the biggest events going on in the world, and they have been properly informed, rather than hearing secondhand information from friends or social media.

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