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!
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.
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!