A Fun and Interactive Way to Teach Geography

Google Earth in The Classroom

I was hooked the first time I spun the world on its axis. Fascinated, I quickly zoomed into my house in Encinitas, California. I could see my kids trampoline in the backyard! Then, I flew the the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. I was able to actually view the gladiatorial battleground in the center! I flew to the the Arabian Desert, the Euphrates River, the Amazon and Mt. Fuji. By the end of my 3 minute travel romp I concluded that Google Earth was far more exciting and relevant than the map in the back of our textbook. I love maps, I mean I really love maps, but a colorful topographical map can’t come close to the real thing! 

I immediately started working on a completely Google Geography lesson. I knew I wanted to use Google Earth and Google Maps combined with snapshots from satellite pictures that I have been using for years. As a transition from World History-ending with the Exploration unit, I decided to give my students a preview of US history with a completely Google classroom friendly US Physical Geography Exploration and Scavenger Hunt. I worked on it for about 3 nights and nervously pushed it down to my Google classroom the next to last day of school. I knew it would be a gamble since the students typically clock out those last days, but they too were hooked. They did exactly what I did! They zoomed into their houses first, of course! But then, they started to explore America. Students dragged labeled features, placed titles, read about the first colonies and flew to key features in Google Earth. They were excited, talking to each other about what they were seeing, using words like “cool” and “sick”.  In the end, the average score on the US Physical Geography Google Forms test was 92 percent! A sweet student-centered activity success!

Of course there were a few bumps that needed to be smoothed over, explanations needed to be clearer and more prominently displayed with graphics, the order of operations was tweaked and a few items were completely omitted. But, in the end I knew I had something worthwhile, engaging and proven effective. In an instant my summer plans were carved out for me. I had created 13 Google Earth Geography Scavenger Hunts with Instruction and Quizzes and they have become some of our best-selling products!  Introduce your students to these fun, interactive and informative lesson plans!