10 Apps for Teaching History

  Alterations to the National Curriculum are set to bring about significant changes in schools, with history one of the subjects which will be most affected. From 2014, pupils will be expected to complete a more rigorous history syllabus including a complete chronological history of Britain. In preparation, many schools will be reviewing the way they deliver history lessons. BBC Active has a range of history videos which can help them to comply with the strong emphasis on British history prescribed in the new curriculum. And, as it’s not just teaching materials but teaching methods that are undergoing something of a revolution, we've been taking a look at the pick of the latest apps for teaching history, both of Britain and beyond:

1.    Timeline World War 2 with Dan Snow
Average rating in App Store: 5/5
Cost: £9.99

“Interactive education on the iPad at its best!”

Timeline history appDeveloped in conjunction with the popular TV series, this is an engaging app which allows students to view the events of the war in a timeline format.


•    Zoom out for a broad overview of events or enlarge sections to study details right down to a daily view of significant developments, which are accompanied by educational video clips, photos and British Pathé footage.
•    Switch to map view to delve into how the conflict spread and which countries were involved at any given point.

2.    Virtual History Roma
Average rating in App Store: 4/5
Cost: £5.99

Virtual History App“The creators of this app are breaking new ground with their immersive, interactive use of the abilities of the iPad”

Consistently voted amongst the best apps for teaching history, Virtual History Roma is geared towards secondary school pupils, but its features are appealing and suitable for learners of any age with an interest in this pivotal period in history.


•    Virtual “full immersion” tour of important Roman cities in Europe and the Mediterranean
•    Photo galleries
•    Interactive timelines and maps
•    Move the iPad to change your point of view within scenes

3.    Pyramids 3D
Average rating in App Store: 4.5/5
Cost: £9.99

Pyramid History app“If you can't get to see the pyramids in real life, this is certainly the next best thing!”

Journey around one of the Seven Wonders of the World in interactive 3D. This app is superb for any Egyptian history enthusiast and is accompanied by text written by renowned archaeologist Dr Zawi Hawass.


•    3D aerial tour of the pyramids, Sphinx and Giza plateau
•    Explore chambers and corridors within the buildings
•    360-degree views of your surroundings

4.    Streetmuseum: Londinium
Average rating in App Store: 4.5/5
Cost: FREE

Street Museum app“A snapshot of Roman London worthy of a thumbs-up from the Emperor.”

Take a walk through Roman London and experience its sights and sounds. Key sites are overlaid onto the current map of the city to chart its development over the centuries. Places of interest are pinned on the map and can be explored more closely using the app’s interactive features.


•    Timeline of Roman London
•    “Excavate” finds using your fingers to dig and reveal ancient artefacts
•    3D drawings of famous landmarks
•    Video and audio recordings

5.    Timeline Battle Castles
Average rating in App Store: 5/5
Cost: £6.99

Timeline battles app“Should be one in every school.”

The second app in the Timeline series focuses on medieval times, siege warfare and the castles across Europe and the Middle East which were strategically important in this period in history. This app seems to have something for all age groups.


•    Zoom-able interactive timeline
•    ‘Link to map’ to see more about the locations of castles and battles
•    Over 100 video clips
•    Demonstrations on how to shoot medieval weapons

6.    History: Maps of World
Average rating in App Store: 3/5
Cost: FREE

World History app“A wonderful teacher’s aid”

It may not be quite as feature-packed or well-reviewed as some of the other apps for teaching history, but for a free app it seems like a worthwhile addition to the list. It brings together an impressive range of historical maps from the 4th century right up to the 20th.


•    High definition maps
•    Browse by era or theme
•    Keyword search

7.    Civil War Today
Average rating in App Store: 3.5/5
Cost: £0.69

Civil War app“Bursting at the seams with information.”

A novel and inexpensive companion to classroom learning for anyone studying American history. It includes daily “This day in Civil War History” updates for a real-time experience of the war 150 years on. New users will have some catching up to do, but updates continue until 26 April 2015 so there are plenty more to come.

•    Historic newspapers, letters and diaries
•    High-resolution photo gallery
•    Battle maps

8.    The British Monarchy
Average rating in App Store: 4/5
Cost: £0.69

Monarchy history app“Extremely valuable pocket guide.”

A handy reference guide to the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland since the 8th century.


•    Key details and links to Wikipedia biographies of each monarch
•    Browse by name or chronological list

9.    GCSE Modern World History - My Revision App
Average rating in App Store: 4/5
Cost: £1.99

Revision History app“If you’re doing history you need this”

Written by an experienced history teacher, this is a useful revision aid for GCSE students.


•    Covers all the main topics of the modern history syllabus
•    Activities and tests to make the facts more memorable

10.    Back in Time
Average rating in App Store: 4.5/5
Cost: £5.49

Back in Time app“The coolest history textbook you’ll find on the iPad”

A stunningly-presented exploration of life and civilisation on Earth, this coffee table book-cum-educational app crosses over into science and geography but is certainly worth a mention in the history category with its guide from the Big Bang to the present day.


•    Imaginary 24-hour clock format
•    Events documented with social and historical context
•    Hundreds of images
•    Little-known facts

There’s plenty to choose from in this list of apps for teaching history. Students really engage with apps and video in their learning and BBC Active has a wide range of educational video to help bring learning to life.