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Three New Civics Serious Games Make Use Of Library of Congress Primary Sources

KidCitizen Screenshot - Image credit: Muzzy Lane Software

The Library of Congress announced last week the release of three new, free Educational Serious Games, all of which make extensive use of the online collections of the Library of Congress.

These “Serious Games” were developed by three organizations selected and supported by grants from the Library to create applications for use in K-12 classrooms. Each game is intended to provide young people with engaging and meaningful opportunities to learn about Congress and civic participation using primary sources from the Library’s online collections.

(For more on effective strategies for teaching with primary sources, please find the Library of Congress Using Primary Sources page).

The three organizations are the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia; Indiana University’s Center on Representative Government, in Bloomington, Indiana; and Muzzy Lane Software, of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Each “Serious Game” takes a different approach to the subjects, and each is based on the rich historical primary source items that the Library makes freely available at

Here are the three Serious Games:

1. KidCitizen by Muzzy Lane Software

KidCitizen introduces a new way for young students to engage with history through primary sources. KidCitizen provides a growing set of interactive Episodes where K-5 students work with primary source photographs to explore Congress and Civic Engagement. 

KidCitizen Episodes capitalize on the active and social nature of young children's learning. They use primary sources for rich demonstrations, interactions, and models of literacy in the course of innovative hands-on activities that make academic content meaningful, build on prior experiences, and foster visual literacy and historical inquiry.

SEE: With a mentor character, children investigate images in detail using age appropriate techniques and scaffolding.  They zoom in, find, collect, and match image elements.

THINK: While investigating, students collect evidence from images in their journal, then use that to think about what they are seeing – what is happening,  and why?

WONDER: Students use their journal to construct posters, timelines, or other outputs to wonder about connections between what they’ve found and their own lives.

KidCitizen Episodes run on PCs, Macs, and iOS and Android mobile devices. They can be accessed from the KidCitizen website at All are free to play, and are accompanied by a teacher’s guide.

The first set of nine Episodes comprehends What are Primary Sources; Congress and Child Labor; Community Helpers; Welcome to Congress; Snap a Photo: Agent of Change; Capture the Flag; Congress and School Lunch; Together Our Voices Matter; and Kids in Action.

The app also includes cloud software tools that let educators create their own Episodes and share them with students.

2. Eagle Eye Citizen by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University

 Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop students' civic understanding and historical thinking skills

3. Engaging Congress by the Indiana University Center on Representative Government

Engaging Congress is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges that it faces in contemporary society. Primary source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today. The game is targeted towards high school students and educators, but the information and format is enjoyable for anyone seeking to learn how government works.

About Library of Congress TPS Program

For more than a decade, the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program has provided extensive professional development opportunities for educators and enabled the development and dissemination of teaching materials focused on using the Library’s digitized primary sources. In its fiscal 2015 appropriation, Congress allocated additional funds to the TPS program to increase competitive opportunities for developing online interactives and apps for classroom use on Congress and civic participation, enabling last week’s announcement.

In 2015, the Library received 33 proposals from a wide range of organizations, including institutions of higher education, cultural institutions and other collaborative partnerships, to develop Educational Serious Games.

The selected organizations, Muzzy Lane Software, the Indiana University Center on Representative Government, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and the New Media at George Mason University, have conducted extensive teacher and student testing of their interactives, developed supporting professional-development resources and opportunities for teachers, and are embarking on extensive outreach campaigns.

A second group of organizations was selected in 2016; their projects are scheduled to launch in 2018.