8 Podcasts About Civics and U.S. History | Kidcasts

This playlist offers windows into key documents, people, and cultural factors that shaped U.S. history.

American history’s ongoing experiment to create a more perfect union can be felt acutely during these times. But how did this ideal form? What was it like during the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Why was the U.S. Constitution created? How are U.S. laws made? How do we, as a diverse nation, find ways to protect, defend, and continue to move toward this ideal...by square dancing? This playlist offers windows into key documents, people, and cultural factors that shaped U.S. history.

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Go to the Civics and History Playlist


But Why “Who Makes the Laws?”

Ages 5-12–But Why, from Vermont Public Radio, expertly addresses questions from children listeners with relatable, well-researched answers provided here by Mike Doyle, of the Canadian organization Civix, and Syl Sobel, author of How the U.S. Government Works. In this episode, a North Carolina caller wants to know how elections work, while one from England asks why her country has both a government and a queen. The show makes the connection between framing documents and the people who use them to guide lawmaking.


The Past and the Curious "Museum Tales!"

Ages 5-12–The Past and the Curious series offers odd, interesting snippets from history, along with music to spark kids’ curiosity and questions. Figures in this episode include those who strive to preserve history and those who set out to make history, with less than noble acts. The eccentric Gardner, a philanthropist and art collector, founded the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, subject to an art heist in 1990. Peale established America's first natural history museum with mastodon bones and other items.


USA & UK Politics “Constitutions”

Ages 5–12–This series, produced in the UK, provides a great comparison between the United States and the UK. The American Constitution is the most important document in U.S. history. What is the Constitution, and who wrote it? And why doesn’t the UK have one, too? Young investigators Ella and Mason find out.The pacing and format of this show are ideal for younger listeners.


This Day in History Class  ”Last Year's Lesson: Boston Tea Party, Dec. 16, 1773”

Ages 8-12–This short episode reinforces facts that students may have learned in class about the Boston Tea Party and events leading up to it. The team from How Stuff Works and Stuff You Missed in History Class host this short episode describing how and why the American colonists used this form of protest against British rule. This Day in History Class is created by Yves Jeffcoat, a writer and podcaster from Atlanta. Each short episode shines a light on a world event, from the L.A. Riots to Zimbabwean independence.


Young Ben Franklin "A Declaration of Independence"

Ages 8-12–Audio dramas like Young Ben Franklin  bring history to life, and this series places students right in the action, giving them a feel for individual activism back when the nation was still forming. On a cargo ship, 14-year-old Ben finds himself staring down the barrel of the governor’s cannons. Ben makes a decision that earns him and his friends a death sentence, but the city of Boston rallies to his defense. Ben's journey toward leadership will change the course of American history.

Read: Podcasts About Pets for K–12 Students | Kidcasts

After the Fact ”The Birthplace of America”

Ages 9 Up–When students begin learning U.S. History, they are often taught about events leading up to the signing of key documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But they don’t usually hear details about what it was like to get the work done. At least 18 British colonies existed in North America during the American Revolution—but only 13 signed the Declaration of Independence. In this episode, Temple University history professor Jessica Roney explains why, while also touring key historic places in Philadelphia. The After the Fact podcast, from the Pew Charitable Trust, explores the intersection of data analysis and life.


Constitutional: Episode 1: Frames”

Ages 9 Up–The premier episode of Constitutional goes back in time to that hot Philadelphia summer in 1787 when a group of revolutionary Americans drafted the U.S. Constitution. Students learn where the original three U.S. framing documents are displayed and preserved. The host visits the National Archives while exploring what factors makes a U.S. president great. This episode will spark conversation about language used in the U.S. Constitution—including “We the People” and “a more perfect union”—and what they mean today.


Radiolab "Birdie in the Cage"

Ages 9 Up–People have been doing the square dance since before the Declaration of Independence. This episode journeys from Appalachian front porches to the halls of Congress and a Kansas City convention center, uncovering a secret history and asking what it means for a dance to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Using Radiolab's unique stylistic mix of interviewing and research, this episode offers a glimpse into a dance still learned in schools today, though students may not know much about it. Host Tracie Hunte provides a respectful example of how to question and engage with others in order to learn.

While this playlist focuses heavily on early U.S. documents, other episodes examine history from different perspectives. If you support high school students and more mature audiences, consider shows including Throughline, which examines events from the past to inform the present; 1619, a podcast from The 1619 Project, recentering slavery’s profound impact on North America; or Code Switch, with episodes offering authentic voices about race, including a curated playlist just for kids. The Washington Post’s podcast Presidential takes a close look at each president of the United States, in its 44 episodes.

To link or embed this playlist to share with your students, click the RSS feed: Kidcasts: U.S. History  To link to the list online, click here: Kidcasts: U.S. History. To add additional episodes, request to be a contributor on the link to the playlist.

Read: A Universe of Podcasts: A Summer Listening Guide for Elementary through High School Students

Youth technology integration consultant Anne Bensfield helps libraries and schools implement new models for innovation. Librarian and  Buttons & Figs podcast creator Pamela Rogers inspires creative expression from elementary school kids by reading, writing, and playing with words.  


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