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Instructional Resources - Social Studies

Teaching the Colorado Academic Standards in social studies is supported through a wide array of free instructional resources. This webpage lists just a few of these resources and will be updated regularly. If you are an educator in Colorado and have suggestions for a great free resource please email Stephanie Hartman. For additional opportunities please check Professional Development.

The resources are currently organized by the following main topics:

Also check out the Constitution Day Resources Page.

Literacy in Social Studies

  • ReadingQuest: Making Sense in Social Studies - A website designed for social studies teachings who wish to more effectively engage their students with the content in their classes. The webite is designed to provide philosophical bases for sound comprehension strategy instruction, directions for a range of comprehension and content reading strategies, and printable handouts and masters for transparencies.
  • LDC Toolkit - The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) offers a research based approach to incorporating literacy into all areas of content in grades K-12 by providing a common framework that facilitates teacher creativity and builds literacy skills across content areas. LDC equips teachers with the tools and training needed to implement the college- and/or career-ready expectations embodied in the Common Core State Standards so that all students experience effective teaching and learning in all subject areas throughout their schooling and emerge with the skills necessary to meet the demands of the 21st century global marketplace. The toolkit provides a step-by-step process for helping Colorado teachers utilize LDC to improve the delivery of classroom literacy instruction across content areas.

U.S. History

  • American Beginnings - A website full of historical documents, literary texts, and works of art pertaining to the European presence in North America from 1492-1690.
  • The Civil War Trust: Battles in Action Animated Maps - A collection of animated maps bring battles of the American Civil War to life, complete with troop movement animations, narratives, video, and more.
  • History & Politics Out Loud - This is an awesome site that has audio recordings of hundreds of historical and political speeches. For example, you can listen to Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech, or Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech.
  • Library of Congress - The Library of Congress provides one of the most comprehensive list of resources on American history!
  • Library of Congress: American Memory Collection - This collection includes historic maps, photos, original documents, and audio and video clips. The collection is sorted by topic.
  • 101 Maps for US History - This site provides a comprehensive list of 101 thematic maps for teaching United States history.
  • National Archives and Records Administration - The NARA site includes the "National Archives Experience"; an online database of historical documents, online exhibits, links to the Presidential Libraries, and a new exhibit of eyewitness accounts to events in American history.
  • National History Day in Colorado - National History Day in Colorado (NHDC) is an academic program at the University of Colorado Denver benefitting Colorado middle and high school students. Students choose historical topics related to an annual theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries.
  • National History Education Clearinghouse - National History Education Clearinghouse is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has created with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible.
  • National Museum of American History: A Smithsonian Museum - The educator's page from the Smithsonian provides a wealth of information about using the Museum of American History's resources in the classroom.
  • Teaching Tolerance: The Southern Poverty Law Center - Teaching Tolerance provides free teaching materials and a quarterly magazine in an effort to promote tolerance. Topics such as The Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, and Dealing with Bullies, are just a few of the issues available in outstanding curriculum materials.
  • Teaching American History - A compilation of letters, speeches, documents, etc. on significant people and events in American political thought and history.

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World History

  • Best of History Websites - This site provides an extensive listing of outstanding history websites found on the Internet.
  • Collapse: Why do Civilizations Fall? - An Online Media Exhibit from the Annenberg Foundation.
  • Discover Babylon - This site uses an ingenious video game to teach students about Mesopotamia during the Uruk Period (3300-3000 BC) when writing was first developing; the Ur III period (2100-2000 BC), a time of great cities and central organization; and the Neo-Assyrian period (1000-600 BC), a time of empires. The game can be downloaded for free!
  • Eyewitness to History - Primary Sources documents, photos, and audio clips for thousands of historical events!
  • The History Channel - This site provides numerous maps, audio clips, a world timeline of events, a women’s history exhibit, and much more!
  • The Middle Ages - An Online Media Exhibit from the Annenberg Foundation.
  • Renaissance - An Online Media Exhibit from the Annenberg Foundation.
  • Time Map - An interactive atlas of world history. This site contains over 650 maps and 1,000 pages of written narrative. It allows users to see the rise and fall of all civilizations, empires and nations within their full historic and geographic contexts.
  • The World Factbook - Developed and maintained by the CIA, this website includes extensive information from economics to politics, for every country in the world.

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  • American Factfinder - The U.S. Census Bureau's source for population, housing, economic, and geographic data.
  • Colorado Geographic Alliance (COGA) - Part of a network of fifty Geographic Alliances across the country, COGA was founded in 1989 by the National Geographic Society and geographers in Colorado. Their main objective is to provide resources and professional development for elementary and secondary school teachers, ensuring the public understands the rationale behind comprehensive geography education throughout the State of Colorado.
  • The Flat Stanley Project - For this project, elementary students create a "Flat Stanley" doll, and then send him, along with his journal, on a world adventure!
  • Geographic Information Systems - This site provides an introduction to GIS, and how GIS informs people on a daily basis to improve our way of life.
  • Google Earth - This page allows you to search for any address, any place in the world and then view it via satellite!!
  • National Geographic Education! - National Geographic’s site filled with lesson plans and activities for teaching the national geography standards.
  • National Geographic's Map Machine - Includes an interactive atlas, both political and physical maps, and satellite imagery.
  • Teaching with Historic Places - This site explains how to use historic places to teach about history, culture, and issues. The site includes lesson plans too.
  • The World Factbook - The online version of the World Factbook developed and maintained by the CIA!

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  • American President - Extensive presidential and electoral history, election coverage and a lively student magazine.
  • Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Find national results for presidential elections from 1789 through 2012. Election information, articles and a description of the election process is also available.
  • Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government - Learn about government branches, citizenship and how laws are made with Ben Franklin as your host. Interactive games and articles provide information in a fun way (designed especially for elementary students).
  • Bill of Rights Institute - The Bill of Rights Institute offers lessons and activities for teaching students about the words and ideas of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The institute also offers professional development opportunities for teachers.
  • The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) is an organization that provides a free online database for constitutional research and education. Our mission is to increase understanding, facilitate research, and encourage discussion of the U.S. Constitution by connecting individuals to primary source documents regarding its creation, ratification, and amendment. our recent initiative of “Using Technology to Help Students Think Historically.” This initiative is centered on the notion that elementary and secondary students are capable of thinking critically and historically.
  • History & Politics Out Loud - This is an awesome site that has audio recordings of hundreds of historical and political speeches. For example, you can listen to Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech, or Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech.
  • The Interactive Museum of News - This interactive news "museum" allows the reader to view thousands of news stories, both historical and current.
  • Lessons on Local Government is a free online resource for K-12 teachers. There is no better way to engage students in Civic life than with issues right out their back door. Written by teachers for teachers and based on the new Colorado Social Studies standards, LOLG provides dozens of lessons and links to other resources that makes local government come alive in your classroom. Check out a simulation called Peakville Needs a Rec Center, learn the 4 types of Local Government through a parade and make visits from Local Leaders a classroom staple using LOLG. Lessons on Local Government gives life to Think Global, Act Local. LOLG is provided free by the Colorado Municipal League and Special District Association of Colorado.
  • The White House - This is the official site to the White House. The site contains historic information regarding presidents and their tenure in the Oval Office; as well as current events news and position statements on the issues

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  • Colorado Council for Economic Education (CCEE) - CCEE is a 40 year old Colorado non-profit whose mission is to train teachers how better to teach economics and financial literacy. Find open enrollment professional development classes, customized trainings with school districts, teaching resources.
  • The Classroom Economist - Features video and PowerPoint content designed to clarify and enhance teacher understanding of core economic and Federal Reserve topics, including lesson demonstrations and resource ideas.
  • Core Concept Cards - Helps provide a strong foundation of economic and personal finance vocabulary for secondary students through interactive games and activities
  • Drawing Board Series - Really bad drawings, really simple explanations of economic topics.
  • Econ Ed Link - Econ Ed Link is a leading source of online economic and personal finance lessons for educators, students and afterschool providers (K-12)
  • Economics Explained - A blog courtesy of NetCredit that covers a variety of personal financial literacy and economics topics such as saving, allowances, and interest rates.
  • Economic Exploration Trunk - The Economic Exploration Trunk has economic, personal finance, history and current event lessons that will fit into secondary curriculum. The trunk includes activities and hands-on materials to make economics come alive for your students. Schools may check-out the trunk for 2 weeks, reservations required.
  • The Economic Lowdown Podcast Series - The Economic Lowdown is a podcast series produced by the Economic Education department of the St. Louis Fed for high school students. The series covers topics in economics, banking and monetary policy. The brief videos use clear, simple language and graphic elements so that students can better visualize the economic concepts being presented. In the end, they will see how economic principles affect the choices they make in their everyday lives.
  • The Economic Lowdown Video Companion Series - The Economic Lowdown is a podcast series produced by the Economic Education department of the St. Louis Fed for high school students. The series covers topics in economics, banking and monetary policy. The brief videos use clear, simple language and graphic elements so that students can better visualize the economic concepts being presented. In the end, they will see how economic principles affect the choices they make in their everyday lives.
  • Econ Ed Mobile Learning App - Interactive application to help visualize and understand how inflation and the cost of credit can affect your spending and saving decisions (compatible with iPad, iPhone and iTouch devices)
  • EverFi  EverFi™ - Financial Literacy uses the latest in online technologies – video, animations, 3D gaming, avatars, and social networking – to bring complex financial concepts to life for today’s digital generation. The platform for 9-12 grade students is fully assessed, meets all Colorado Financial Literacy Standards for high school, and contains 10 modules covering a range of topics including credit scores, budgeting, insurance, credit cards and more. EverFi has teamed with major corporations and foundations to provide this cutting-edge course at no cost to all Colorado high schools. Please contact Liz Foreman,, for more information or to create your free account!

  • Federal Reserve Education - Find publications, videos, games and lesson plans about the Federal Reserve, economics and financial literacy.
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City - The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s mission is to provide economic resources and programs that are easy to understand and implement for educators and students. Find free economic and personal finance resources and professional development opportunities for Colorado educators.
  • Financial Fables - Online stories that combine reading, economics and personal finance into life lessons about smart money management
  • Fifty Nifty Econ Cards - Assists students in developing a knowledge base of economic and personal finance words through activities, games and online puzzles
  • Junior Achievement - (JA) K-12 programs focus on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce development. These programs, delivered by volunteers, complement what is being taught in the classroom every day and meet the new Colorado Academic Standards. Through JA, educators are able to access a network of 5,000 knowledgeable adult role-models who volunteer to bring JA’s hands-on programs to life and bridge the gap between what students learn in the classroom and the real world. JA programs are free to schools.
  • Khan Academy - Features didactic presentations of a wide-range of economic topics. Suitable for high school students of economics or for teachers wishing to hone their own understanding.
  • Online Economics Courses - A database of online courses to teacher students economic concepts.
  • Paj Holden Chalk and Talk Economics Videos on You Tube - Paj Holden is an economics instructor based in Athens, Greece who features short economics lessons aimed at pre-university / first year college students.
  • Show Business: The Economics of Entertainment - Learning activity that teaches basic economics and history through examples from the entertainment industry.

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For website assistance in social studies, please contact Stephanie Hartman.

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