How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool

How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool

One of my favorite tools on the internet is Google Earth. Whether your students are young or old, they can use it easily and masterfully for tasks. The best part is letting kids explore it on their own and discover places near and far around the earth. This is your guide on How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool.

What is Google Earth?

Google Earth is a program which allows you to see the world virtually in 3D and control where you go with the touch of a mouse. If you don’t already have it on your computer, click the link to download your own copy. Here are just a few of the features of Google Earth your family can explore.

  • View the earth from space and spin it in any direction or orientation.
  • Fly to various locations around the world from where you start- this is one of my personal favorite features. If you start by looking at the state of Vermont and choose to see South Africa, it will fly you up into space and down again into the new country. That’s just fun!
  • Zoom in to see whole geographical areas or zoom in so far you are on the street level- meaning you can see the images of the street itself and see what it’s really like there.
  • Choose overlays for the maps so you can see weather, landmarks, etc
  • Look at pictures people have uploaded of local landmarks, people, places, etc- when you zoom in you’ll see picture icons you can click on. What a great way to take a virtual field trip!

How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool

Google Earth Resources

There are a lot of ideas, tutorials, and helpful tips on using Google Earth. Here are some of the best that I found in my brief search.

  • Google Earth Lessons while perusing some of my homeschooling bookmarks.
  • Google Earth User Manual for Earth Science Teachers – Just look at the table of contents and you’ll see what I mean. Ok…maybe you won’t. The science teacher in me is definitely making plans for this. Curriculum is being written in my head. Instructional gems just effortlessly coming to the surface as I think of how we could use this in our school.
  • Google Earth for Educators– A Google site all about using Google Earth in the classroom. There are classroom resources, tutorials & tips, showcased work, and a spot to connect with other users.
  • Google Earth Lessons from Juicy Geography– This set shows how versatile your lessons can be with Google Earth
  • Lesson Plan Library– from Google Earth for Educators. I didn’t want you to miss this one. Some of these are fabulous and I think it’s a great place for learning what you can do with Google Earth with your own curriculum and lessons.
  • Teaching with Google Earth– A comprehensive look at how to use this tool
  • Google Earth You Tube Channel– The place for video help on Google Earth. I hope they’ll add more here.
  • Google Earth App– If you are an Android user, you can get Google Earth on your phone or tablet.

How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool


Google Earth Quick Start Activities

Getting started with Google Earth can feel a little intimidating, so I pulled some activities for getting to know this tool easily. You can choose activities for any age student.

  • Google Earth User Guide– Outlines everything you can do with Google Earth
  • 5 Easy Things to Do in Google Earth– Fun activities like looking up your house, touring the world, and viewing recent historical activity in an area
  • Ready to Use Lessons– from Pedagogy in Action. I think it might be worth doing more posts on specific topics using Google Earth. There’s a lot out there!
  • Find Your House– This one is always fascinating for new Google Earth users.
  • Navigate around Town– This is one my younger kids used to love to do. Have them locate your town and find the places you frequent. My youngest used to make a video game out of it by going to “street view” and finding his way to the grocery store and all the other places in town we go to. Fun activity!
  • Physics Lesson Using a Bus Route– For the older kids you can map bus routes with distances and rates and determine speeds using bus route information.
  • Find Ocean Basins & Other Physical Geography Features– Check out the continental shelves surrounding each continent before the ocean gets super deep. River deltas like those of the Amazon, Nile, and Mississippi are interesting from satellite images as well.

Google Earth is a great tool for your homeschool. There’s a wealth of free resources and information on how to use it to your student’s greatest advantage.  Download it today and let your kids enjoy some virtual geography!

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Exploring Oceanography in Your Homeschool

Exploring Oceanography in Your Homeschool

 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Studying the ocean is one of my favorite homeschool teaching topics. There’s such an expanse of material to enjoy. It’s got all sorts of science from physics (waves) to biology and chemistry. The habitat is complex, the animals diverse and amazing, and there are still unsolved mysteries for scientists to tackle. Oceanography was easily my favorite class in graduate school! After all, I was a scientist taking lots of graduate classes in education- of course my favorite class would be my science electives!

Just like there is no shortage of topics to study in oceanography, you’ll be excited to know that the resources available to help you teach it are no less expansive. Today’s post is all about Exploring Oceanography in Your Homeschool.

Basic Concepts in Oceanography

Oceanography is a wide area of study with many options, but here is a list of the basic concepts a study in oceans might entail. The older your students, the more in depth you can go with the topics. It’s fascinating to go beyond habitat and ocean life and study how oceans behave. Don’t miss out on learning about large scale ocean behaviors like The Coriolis Effect.

Exploring Oceanography in Your Homeschool


  • Name and Map the Oceans– Basic ocean geography and definition of an ocean
  • Composition of Ocean Water– What’s in sea water and what’s it made of?
  • Ocean Zones– Light determines a lot about how creatures live in the water. Learn about habitats and characteristics at various ocean depths.
  • Animals and Critters– Study animals and plants found in marine habitats.
  • Ocean behavior– currents, waves, and tides
  • Large Scale Phenomena– The Coriolis Effect, winds
  • Beaches– Erosion, barrier islands
  • Navigating the Ocean– How do people get around? What equipment do they use?
  • Ocean Floor– What’s down there? How do you study it? Can you map it?


Exploring Oceanography in Your Homeschool

Resources for Oceanography Studies

Below are some of our favorite resources on oceanography including curriculum, notebooking materials, and books.
Sea Life Notebook Pages | Harrington Harmonies

  • Sea Life Notebook Pages– These are fun set of pages which cover any sea animal you’d like to study. If you don’t find the one you need, then there are blank pages for you to use. The boys used their Kindles to do some research and jot down facts on their notebook pages. They are working on an animal report for writing.
  • NorthStar Geography– Middle and high school geography curriculum with a section on physical geography including the hydrosphere and oceans.
  • WinterPromise Sea & Sky– Our 4th and 7th graders are working through Sea & Sky this year. There’s a lot of ocean science involved which is fun for adventurous boys.
  • Amanda Bennett Oceans– A four week study of the world’s oceans.
  • Usborne Discovery Books– On various animals
  • Ocean by DK– Stunning pictures and information on oceans
  • Oceans for Every Kid– A Janice VanCleave book with ocean experiments
  • Awesome Ocean Science– An elementary book on ocean science
  • The Ocean Book– Marine activities from an aquatic center
  • Ocean-Opoly– A board game that plays like Monopoly with lots of ocean facts


Oceanography for Middle School

Media Options for Oceanography

It’s fun to watch videos about the ocean. Who doesn’t love seeing the creatures from the deep or sharks in their own habitat. The internet is a treasure trove of underwater exploration.

These are just a few examples of the wealth of information and fun videos you can find using YouTube. Do you know how to make a YouTube play list? It’s a great way to line up great videos for your kids for school.

Other Blog, She Wrote Posts Related to Oceanography

This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered the ocean in our studies. Here’s a look back at some recent and not so recent experiences from the past.

With a little time and some basic resources, your family can engage in a comprehensive study of Oceanography.

Geography bundle -- North Star Geography and WonderMaps


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Trail Planning Using Topographic Quadrangle Maps

Blog, She Wrote Trail Planning Using Topographic Quadrangle Maps

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

This year our high schoolers are taking Earth Science. Typically, earth science is a middle school course, but in NY it’s a high school requirement. So, I set out to find some high school level earth science activities. I came across a NY website for science teachers and modified an activity to suit our needs. Our kids enjoyed Trail Planning Using Topographic Quandrangle Maps.

Topographic Maps in Geography & Earth Science

Topographical maps are useful in both geography and earth science. Typically, in earth science students learn to work with and make their own topo maps while in geography students spend time interpreting the topo maps. In NorthStar Geography by Bright Ideas Press, topographical maps are in lesson five on topography. In addition to the activities found there, the USGS site has some challenging exercises for topographers.

What Is a USGS Quadrangle Map?

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) makes maps available on their website. The USGS is a science organization which provides information on the health of our ecosystems and environment along with information on natural hazards and our natural resources. They are also in the business of cartography (map making). Quadrangle maps are available for free download from the USGS.

  • Shows elevation and other features of the land
  • Historic topo maps can show physical and cultural features of an area at a certain point in time- you can see how an area looked before development
  • Used by recreationists- great for hikers & cross country skiers
  • Helpful when you are looking to by land for building or buying a home- gives a good idea of drainage and don’t forget to visit when it rains!

Blog, She Wrote Trail Planning Using Topographic Quandrant Maps

Trail Building with a USGS Quadrangle Map Reference

The task was to plan a new recreational trail within the area of the quadrangle map using a few criteria:

  • Must be easily accessible from the road & include parking
  • Four different habitats must be present along the trail
  • Establish two new trails
  • Include a picnic area
  • Beginner Trails- are defined by a distance less than 5 miles, looped trail, no gradients larger than 150 ft per mile
  • Advanced Trails- are defined by a distance 5-10 miles long, begin and end at a park access road, no gradients larger than 500 ft per mile
  • Turn in a hand drawn map of the trail and surrounding area with labels
  • Include a data sheet with a key listing out the criteria met on the map

Some of the challenges include interpreting the quadrangle map and following the guidelines to complete the task within the parameters. The results of this assignment were delightful!

More Posts on Topography at Blog, She Wrote

Teaching Geography with Earth Science

We’ve been working with maps a lot this year. Here are a few related posts:

Maps are fun for our family and topographic maps add a special challenge to map adventures. Find yours with your kids today!

North Star Geography homeschool curriculum


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