Social Studies Games and Social Studies Projects

Young minds do need a break from endless busy work, and no other subject offers that like social studies. Far from routine memorizations and calculations, social studies topics spark the imagination and encompass a variety of interesting areas. Below are some projects that will encourage middle school students to excel in social studies, and gain a perspective of social studies as a fun and exciting subject.

Geography Games and Map Quizzes

Learning geography and map reading is a very important aspect of social studies. The following sites have a lot of great quizzes and games to facilitate state and country recognition and knowledge of locations. The games are fun, and cover a lot of topics which might be missed in class. Repetition in these games will teach a thorough knowledge of world and U.S. geography. These are for kids but anyone wanting to brush up on their geography would find them useful.

  • National Geographic Travel Quiz: A quiz on Athens, with links to quizzes on Japan, France, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, China, Peru, Australia, United States, Spain and India.
  • Map Games From Challenging map games for U.S. and world geography will help any child excel in geography while having fun.
  • Travel IQ Challenge: Quizzes for national flags, capitols, photo recognition of famous sites and more.

Social Studies Games and Quizzes

Social studies games teach and reinforce facts about history, geography and culture. They educate students while entertaining them and encouraging retention of subject matter. Today’s young people love video games, and relate easily to game formats. What would be more perfect than teaching a middle school student with online games? 

  • Apples 4 the Teacher: Games and activities for young students, games are easy but fun, and there are word puzzles and such for a broad range of age groups.

Console and Computer Games that Teach History and Social Studies Concepts

Games like Civilizations, Age of Empires, Assassin’s Creed, Pharaoh, Cleopatra, Zeus, Caesar, Sim City, Sim Societies, and Just Cause I & II teach history and the principles of the rise and fall of civilizations and cultures. Many games produced by Impressions Games have a strong social studies message which is put forth in a fun way. Even the Sims 2 and 3 can be used to produce history relevant learning experiences. One can design historic style buildings, or recreate nearly exact replicas of historic sites. These games alone cannot provide an adequate social studies education, but they are an excellent break from real academics. Instructors could assign students reports on the time periods featured in their games, to enrich both the educational and gaming experience.  

  • Age of Empires III: This game and its predecessors Age of Empires I and II teach the principles of civilization, culture and war strategies of various ancient societies.
  • Download Pharaoh Free: Great city building game with realistic Egyptian culture. This game teaches a lot about life in ancient Egypt.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Teaches about guilds and culture of the crusades period. The game is well researched. All costuming and architecture is historically correct and gives a feel of that time period, as well as facts about history. Violence issues though might bother some parents.
  • All the Sim City Based Games: All these games teach principles of government, macro economics, and societal development. They are an excellent resource for true entertainment and education of young minds.

Writing Term Papers Articles and Reports

Term Papers are a great way for kids to learn the topic plus writing skills. Term papers should be fun and interesting to the student. With early term papers the goal should be to teach the student how to write a term paper, not grade it as if it were the work of a college student. Co-write the first term paper with your students as if the teacher were one of the students collaborating on a group project, then with the second third and fourth papers allow them more and more independence until they can do the fourth or fifth paper alone. Make sure they learn MLA format, but grade gently and make it fun. This project should put emphasis on the material, and teach writing style in an engaging way. 

  • Citation Center: MLA and APA made easy with a style generator to make easy work of citations.
  • How to Write a Good Research Paper: This site from Georgetown University explains how and why students should write research papers. While it is aimed towards college students, it is never too early to learn how to write a great research paper.

History, Drama and Performing Arts

Write and perform a play about a historic occurrence such as the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence or writing of the Constitution. Plays can be fun, humorous, and full of clever puns, or serious, dramatic and exciting. As long as students display knowledge of the actual events and characters they should be allowed some creative license. Plays can include fictional conversations between various characters, which include quotes from their writings. Links are provided for the Revolutionary period, but this activity could be done with any historic time period.

Create a Deck of Pictorial Ancient History Cards

Use a country for each suite, and create a deck of cards where each suite corresponds to the others. For example the Kings could be a Pharaoh such as Tut, A Chinese Emperor, Nebuchdnezzar, and perhaps a Kuru King of India. Conversely one could use the mythology and gods of civilizations in the cards. Use Photo Shop, draw or paint your own illustrations, or use a collage method. Cards could be printed on a color laser printer. Use the cards for games or inspiration.

  • Children’s Card Game Decks: Here are some card games and card decks for children. These can be used as examples for the cards students create.
  • Tarot and Affirmation Decks: A list of links to different decks which are examples of theme cards. There are great examples of using themes to create cards.

Create a Timeline

Choose three to five countries and a time period. Create a timeline which references all major events in all the countries. Create the timeline in word, excel or other program that uses links so that each point in the time line links to a website explaining it. Learning to cross reference countries at a given time period helps to prove the connection between civilizations at the same period of time.

  • Timetoast: Create interactive timelines and share them on the web. Free timeline site to join. 

Make a History E-Book

Encourage your students to author an e-book about history or other social studies subject matter. It could be anything about anything from ancient cultures to macroeconomics. Once written the book could become a tremendous success. Make sure all copyright laws are followed including those on illustrations. It’s possible that an e-book would earn money for the student’s college fund.

  • Publish your eBook on Kindle: It’s easy to publish with kindle, if you know basic html. If you don’t there are templates available elsewhere, for free or for purchase to assist in publishing.

Create a History Website

Have your student create an online website, forum or blog about a social studies topic. Activities like this build confidence and credibility. Some blogs even create income, while forums provide the opportunity to collaborate with others on a topic of interest. Encouraging a student to build a website builds skills in a number of skills which will be useful in the future, and might create a source of income as well.

  • WordPress: Great website and blog building software free. They also offer free web sites. Money making-plug-ins are extra.
  • Web Design 101: Web design tutorial will assist in learning to build a good basic website. 

Projects and Activities Online

Choose an activity from these fascinating online activities. It’s simple to select an activity related to the material currently being studied. There are many lists of activities available. A teacher can also change the subject of a project while adapting the idea and providing materials for the subject instead, or change the project and use the resource materials provided.

  • Online Activities and Interactive Learning: Resources by include many activities, web fact hunts and fun.
  • Kids to Kids: This is a great project that sends student made educational materials to foreign countries. Send bilingual handmade booklets and establish friendships in other lands.
  • Diversity Council: Great thought provoking projects involving cultural diversity.
  • Teachable Moment: Projects from Morningstar Center for teaching social responsibility.

Additional Resources

Here are some great resource links. Find answers to questions about social studies subject matter. Order materials.