It can be difficult to find a good Social Studies App and it is exciting to see the new app, Mission US: Think Fast! About the Past, by WNET. As students race the clock, they test their knowledge through two missions. Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. They encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie. Five minutes are allowed to find Thimble the dog. When the answer is selected, the timer pauses to give an explanation of the correct answer. There are ten stops to reach the goal. The questions are quite challenging and a good activity with an adult. The music is of the time frame. The map opens up to a map that would have taken place at that time. It shows your current location, time remaining, question and four answers. The map shows a red line, keeping track of your progress. If the ten questions are answered, Nat shows how many stars and to try again.
In Mission 2: “Flight to Freedom,” players take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky. As they navigate her escape and journey to Ohio, they discover that life in the “free” North is dangerous and difficult. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act brings disaster. Will Lucy ever truly be free? The illustrations are fabulous and interaction is exciting to keep students motivated. There is also a computer version at mission-us.org. This mission also keeps track of progress and encourages ten stars to move on. Other missions are expected to be released this year and next year. Educators will love the classroom video and educator guide available for each mission. The educator guide has an overview, background, activities and additional resources.
This would be a good app for 4th grade and above, the website recommends fifth to eighth grade. The best part of all, it is free!
About the Author
Ann Francis is a die hard special education teacher of who believes everyone can learn. She has been using iPads in the classroom for three years and it has totally changed the way she instructs. Ann also offers professional development on collecting data with apps, training teachers on apps and using the iPad.