Social Studies Simulations

This document began as a crowdsourced group activity that I hosted during the early years of Social Studies Chat #sschat on twitter.  It has grown and become so popular that I can barely keep up with the requests for access.  The original document is maxed out on shares and I have created several copies to accommodate the volume of traffic.  In order to simplify the process I will be keeping the information here so that no lone loses access to the resource! I will update the resources AND include a form so that you can submit new activities for inclusion.

Submit new resources here:

A note before you plan to do a simulation in class: Beware simulations that trivialize the suffering of a group of people or that normalizes oppression. Consider this passage from an article by Jennifer Gonzalez.

“But when it comes to certain events—those related to slavery, the holocaust, war crimes, or any other event where people experienced violence or trauma—simulations can do more harm than good. Although teachers who conduct these activities do so because they want students to develop deeper empathy for the people involved, they end up putting students in a position to inflict pain on each other and experience real trauma, all without much educational benefit at all.

Here is the full article:

A good simulation can open the doors to understanding and empathy. A poor one can trivialized cause harm. Choose wisely. Use your discretion.


Title Subject/Unit  Brief Explanation Links
Check out this list on the last page.. It’s a great check-list for analysis! History Created documents that align with the SBA with instructional materials as well as answer keys
American History Simulations American History Large collection of simulations and games I use in my middle school and high school classes Improving-historical-thinking-using-games–simulations
Tough Choices Government, US History, World History Use ethical problems faced by adults working in small groups to engage your students with real world problems (past and present)
Alliance Simulation World History/ WWI students learn about how alliances can be a disadvantage and lead to war – plan for 2 hours

This looks like the updated version:

Economics in Action: 14 Greatest Hits in Teaching Economics Economics Contains some excellent, simple, and often quick simulations regarding basic economic theories.   For purchase for the dept

1920 Stock Market Crash U.S.History 2 day lesson -excellent US Government Great simulations on branches of gov’t., citizenship, elections, civil rights, etc. Great graphics. Good for various grades, but especially jr high and HS. Backed by Sandra Day O’Connor.
Mission US 18th Century US History Students get to be an apprentice at the Boston Gazette in the days before the American Revolution or a slave trying to escape to freedom.
Spent Sociology/Economics Students go through several scenarios where they have to choose how to spend minimum wage paycheck. They loved it! Makes current economy very real to them.
Head to Head Historical Figures This is the free one, Dr. Fox, but version of Hitler and Stalin are the best.  They allow you to ask historical figures any questions you want, and it is incredibly realistic and accurate
History Animated US History, 20th Century World History Simulations of key battles of the US Revolutionary and Civil War, and WWII
We Choose the Moon US History Simulation of the mission of Apollo 11, first manned flight to the moon.
Trenches are  World History/ WWI Re-enact trench warfare
follow up with
Trenches World History / WWI Re-enact Trench Warfare
Have questions – tweet me @SofiaGeorgelos
Game: How many soldiers survived the trenches?
Visual Set Up:
Reading Interactive Game:

Dropping the Atomic Bomb World History /  WWII Simulation of “Trial of Harry Truman” in response to the question: “Was America justified in their decision to drop the Atomic Bomb?”
Students are assigned roles. They research and write their own script for the trial.  Students from other grades serve as jury members.
Have questions – tweet me @SofiaGeorgelos
Trial Script/ Assign Student Roles
Visual Set .Up:

Pearl Harbor Attack Map US/World History Simulation of Attack on Pearl Harbor not working
Planetary Size Comparison Geography
Planetary Size and Distance Comparison
Stock Market Game Economics Virtually invest $100,000 into the stock market- Monitor your portfolio, compete with other students [not working]
another option: 
Worst Jobs in History: Medieval Medieval Sort of like Dirty Jobs Medieval style, students rank desired occupation based on physical exertion, gruesomeness etc..
Worst Jobs in History US/World History Choose job during Victorian Age
Psychology Simulations/Demos Psychology (could be tweaked for Sociology?)
Science/Geography Simulations Geography Topographical Map http://www.teachersmonthly.rcom/08/free-web-baseindex.php/2011/d-science-biology-geography-simulations/
Maya Rise & Fall World History Interactives about Maya civilization
Geography of a pencil Geography Track a pencil from origin, trade, and transport
Hurricane Name Geography/current events Find if your name has been used!

All names since 1950
Paperclip game Capitalism/communism Students play Rock, Paper, Scissors to model capitalism
Singing Strike in Lawrence, MA Industrialism/Labor Students role play and try to solve real problem faced by striking IWW members 100 years ago.
Mercantilism World Studies Students learn how mercantilism leads to powerful countries dominating weak to imperialism.
Treaty of Versailles World Studies students model the treaty and results sons/ushistory/treaty_of_versailles_simulation.htm
Budget Puzzle USGov/current events You fix the budget: being in charge of nation’s finances
stock market portfolios economics students can compare companies by sectors. Strong educational component (not working as of 1/24/16)
Confiscate student laptops Imperialism I took away student laptops to simulate losing personal property
Handshake activity World Studies/Black Plague Tell students we are going to practice business handshakes. Demonstrate and then have them practice with each other. Have one student secretly put invisible ink on their hands. Check for “deaths” afterwards with a black light.
OneWorld Classrooms Geography/world cultures I used these images and created levels of ?’s as the students learned about the cultures through the images
You Be the Judge World History/Government Make decision to determine punishments in 19th Ct.
Urbanization Game Euro/World history Students go from village to industrial town in 21 stages – town grows as they draw more features
Feudal Role Play

(Also called Feudal M&Ms)

Middle Ages


Students take the role of different people within the feudal hierarchy.  Students start with an amount of candy and then pay “taxes” to people above them in the feudal pyramid. 

*Note – there are many links to variations of this activity.  Search to find something you like.

Atomic Bomb Trial US. History, World History, Two World Wars Students assume the role of witnesses and lawyers and by using primary and secondary source documents, both defend and attack the United States use of the atomic bomb It’s not web based
Alliances simulation Two World Wars Students are assigned a country and using the descriptions of different European nations, decide who would make the perfect ally. Students will also defend their choices.  It’s not web based,
Capitalism/Socialism/Factory Simulation World History Students create a product, produce it, pay workers, negotiate wages, operate on incentive and organize for work rules and better conditions. It’s not web based
Mock Trials: Russian Revolution and Ancient Rome World History Students role play to learn about and critically think about history It’s not web based
Election Simulation Government Students participate in an in class election complete with voter registration cards. 
Scramble for Africa World History Late 1800 European Imperialism in Africa.
Treaty of Versailles Simulation World History  World War I
French Revolution World History Web Quest on the French Rev.  Video clips are used to find several answers.
Nail Polish Experiment Sociology Help students investigate the relationship between gender and homophobia.
Gender Socialization Sociology Students go to a store and report on differences between boy & girl items.
Armenian Genocide Debate US/World History, Government (Lobbying) Students are assigned to lobbying firms supported by different interest groups and build a presentation to convince the US House of Representatives to vote in favor or opposition to recognizing the Armenian Genocide. 

Link is to a Google Docs Folder with all of the mission cards (6 teams) and a Google Drawing with the QR Codes to link to the mission cards.  Contact @amakelky with questions

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition  Variety of Sims A general list. You still need to find links to sims.
Albatross  Cultural exercise on gender discrimination best done in groups of 12 to 15 participants
Redistricting Game U.S. Government/Civics Simulation of redistricting (or gerrymandering).  Can be done individually (or in pairs with two students working together on one computer.
Peakville Needs a Rec Center Local Government  A role played simulation of a town meeting about building a new recreation center.  Students represent local interest groups.   Simulation slides with roles and choices
Lesson Plan
River City Wants Water Local Government Town meeting about building a reservoir.  Interest groups compete to influence leaders choices.    Simulation slides with roles and choices
Partition of Bomon Geography/Conflict Simulation of negotiating territories based on ethnicity, resources and forming alliances. Historical context is Berlin Conference, and it turns out that Bomon is actually Nigeria.  Link to Activity 
Voter’s Ed US Election History and Modeling Interactive Maps of all US Presidential elections going back to 1789

Includes election history of all US Presidential elections back to  1789 featuring, interactive maps, significant events, new states and exploratory questions.  Poll tracking of most recent/current election featuring state registration data, links to candidate websites and shareable maps for students to make predictions about election outcomes.  Lesson Plans available. 

Foundation for Teaching Economics Economics, US History, Civics, Environmental Studies Simulations related to economics throughout social studies
Citizens Initiative Review Government/Citizen Education Structured group deliberation on ballot initiatives

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