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Google Earth Activities for Your Social Studies Classroom

Google Earth is one of the coolest tech tools to use in the classroom either in person or with distance learning. Since its launch in 2005, Google Earth has gone beyond just a mapping tool and become an educational tool for classrooms across the globe. There are so many ways you can use Google Earth with your students. Try these Google Earth Activities for Your Social Studies Classroom.

Sail to Antarctica

Take your students on a Google Earth expedition to Antarctica! This specific journey follows the Lindblad Expeditions Ship, "National Geographic Explorer" on its 2015 trip. Explore Half Moon Island, Orne Harbor, and nine additional ports. Your students will also be able to check out animals on their Google Earth excursion. Emperor penguins, leopard seals, killer whales, humpback whales, and more will be highlights of this trip! Share the link directly to Google Classroom during distance learning or introduce your students to this trip when you return to the classroom.

Create Google Earth Stories

Your students can explore the world and create their own Google Earth projects. Your students will start their Google Earth stories by adding points, writing text, and including multimedia content on the 3D globe. Getting started with their own Google Earth projects and stories is easy! Just follow the quick start guide! Stories could follow paths of their favorite novels, important landmarks and monuments in their state, or even a dream vacation or road trip they are planning for their family. Try out these Google Earth stories and projects to get started imagining with your students. What Google Earth projects and stories will your students create?

Google Expeditions

This is one of my favorite ways to use Google Earth! Google Expeditions let your students explore 360 degree virtual reality field trips! There are more than 900 expeditions your students can explore. Your students need the Expeditions app (free), a mobile device, and an optional Google cardboard or VR device like a Google Daydream viewer. Google cardboards are the most accessible and affordable. When your students are able to see any place their heart desires in Google Expeditions, they can experience geography and the world in a whole new way.

Flight Simulator

Google Earth has a built in flight simulator! Unlike Microsoft Flight Simulator, Google Earth's built in flight sim is free and accessible for all ages. Even young students can "fly" with Google's flight sim using a joystick or simple mouse and keyboard. Have your students fly over the places you are studying in your social studies curriculum. This is also a unique opportunity for students to explore the topography of different areas in the world.

Google LitTrips

Try some unit studies by integrating literature into your social studies lessons. Google Lit Trips use Google Earth to create field trips of the settings of popular novels for your students. Try these historical and Social Studies relevant titles out with your upper elementary and middle school students.
  •      A Long Walk to Water
  •      Around the World in 80 Days
  •      Esperanza Rising
  •      Watsons Go to Birmingham
  • Try these Google Earth Literary trips with your Language Arts and Social Studies classes!

    Timelapse Maps

    Type in a location on Google Earth's timelapse maps and see how the earth's landmarks and different locations have changed in the last 35 years. There are some preloaded projects, but your students can also type in their own address, the school's address, and places in their community to see how the landscape has changed in their lifetime (and before they were born). Some of the preloaded timelapse maps include the construction of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Germany, urban growth in Las Vegas, Nevada, and bushfires in South Australia. Add a writing element and have students predict what the areas they explore will be like in another 35 years. These Google Earth activities are perfect for your upper elementary and middle school learners. One of the greatest ways to learn about geography and the world is by having your students "see" places first-hand. Since it's not feasible to travel around the world (or even close by during school closures), Google Earth provides the next best thing! Use these resources to help your students explore the their neighborhood, city, state, country, and the world!

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