Seeking Simulations


Photo, "Challenger Learning Center - Communications," HMNS, Flickr, cc

Does anyone know a solid, one-stop shop for interactive simulation and activities for high level, college-bound U.S. history students? I am looking to freshen up some of my units and I thought these might be fun. I am specifically looking for one-day activities that engage students (there can be homework before and after).


While the web is full of great resources for the history classroom, you’ll have to narrow your search in order to find simulations. The most efficient way to start is to head to sites offering lesson plans, and to search within them for simulations.

One great resource for lesson plans is the work of Teaching American History grant partners, which is often posted online. The Danbury, CT TAH project, for instance, has a number of lesson plans on its website, including a number of simulations relevant for an American history class. Fitchburg State University also has a number of lesson plans online, including a simulation on the causes of the Civil War.

While the web is full of great resources for the history classroom, you’ll have to narrow your search in order to find simulations.

Another kind of web resource to explore is the work of states and school districts. One good example of this kind of resource is SCORE, the Schools of California Online Resources for Education site, which has a number of resources for classroom teachers including simulations for U.S. history classes. Some come from outside sources like Harper’s Weekly online, which hosts a simulation on Reconstruction, while others, like a simulation on immigration, are created by classroom teachers.

Colleges and universities are also rich sources for materials, often providing creative approaches to classroom instruction. The University of North Carolina School of Education has a number of lesson plans and ideas online, including a simulation on fugitive slaves. Columbia University, through Columbia American History Online, also offers lesson plans, like a simulation of pre-Civil War efforts at compromise.

Yet another good place to look for resources is an aggregating site like Best of History Websites or the National History Education Clearinghouse. At the former of those sites, you can find links to resources like the Day in the Life of a Hobo podcast—a creative simulation focusing on the Great Depression. At the latter of those two sites, you can find a number of resources, including a link to a simulation game exploring the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Interact also has classroom ready simulations about U.S. and world history, which can be purchased by your school.

Good luck with your search!

About the Author

The Stanford History Education Group, located at Stanford University's School of Education, engages in projects on how students learn history in high school, middle school, and elementary school classrooms.