browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.


Lesson Plans: Where Did I Come From?

Students find their country of origin on Google Earth and grab a screen shot of it. Save to their computer. Import it into a drawing program like KidPix and add the country flag and student name. Students learn about importing data from one program to another with this project.

[caption id="attachment_5431" align="aligncenter" width="564"]lesson plan Use Google Earth in Second Grade[/caption]

–from 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom.

More articles on geography and Google Earth:

149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

Monday Freebies #40: Wonders of Google Earth


Categories: 2nd, 3rd Grade, Geography, Google, Lesson plans | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Power of Symbols–What does ‘Turkey’ mean?

Here’s an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’–from objective to idiomatic. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

[polldaddy poll=7398424]

Did your students come up with other definitions I didn’t list?


Categories: 1st, Geography, Holidays, Kindergarten, Math, Word study/Vocabulary | Leave a comment

9 Field Trips Free to Students

Kids love field trips. They’re out of the classroom, get to travel by bus with lots of kids and not enough adults. What’s not to like?

A few items come to mind: Cost, staffing, potential for disaster. And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s a way to provide the field trip experience with few of the risks, no cost, and a fraction of the time away from what is likely an overstuffed education day:

Virtual Field Trips, via the internet.

There are so many options  for real-time webcams, conversations with experts (via Skype and Google Hangout), and the opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise inaccessible that classes have embraced this new approach to seeing the world. This enthusiasm has encouraged a cottage industry that often is far from the exciting, realistic experience teachers want for their students. When I search the internet, it seems any site with a camcorder and multimedia resources calls itself a ‘virtual field trip’. Truthfully, many of them are a waste of time. Sure, I like the pictures and the movies, but I don’t feel like I’m there, immersed in history or geography, with a life-changing experience that will live in my memory for decades to come.

Intellectually, I know there are good ones out there. Finally, after wearing through my favorite virtual shoes, I have a list to recommend. These next nine virtual field trips cover topics from geology to history to the human experience. See what you think:

360 Cities

What’s not to love about a website that starts:

Welcome to Earth! It’s a planet having an iron core, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. Earth orbits a local star called the Sun, the light of which generates the food supply for all the millions of species of life on earth. The dominant species on Earth is the human being, and you’re one of the six billion of them! Humans have iron in their blood, and their bodies are composed of two-thirds water, just like the planet they live on.

Enjoy your stay, and try to stay calm.

360 Cities contains the Internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Let’s pause here for a moment. Panos–those wide pictures that cover up to 180 degrees left and right. Right?

360 Cities does panos differently. Let me show you. Here’s one from my iPad:

Here’s one on 360 Cities:
Coliseum. 1st floor in Tunisia


Categories: Geography, Science, Teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments

12 Great Websites for Earth Day

earth dayApril 22nd is Earth Day. Celebrate it with your students by letting them visit these six websites:

  1. Breathing Earth
  2. Breathing Earth YouTube Video–of CO2 use, population changes, and more
  3. Conservation Game
  4. Eco-friendly house
  5. Eeko World
  6. Ecotourism Simulation–for grades 4 and above
  7. Electrocity
  8. Eyes on the Earth–from NASA
  9. Footprint calculator (more…)
Categories: Geography, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology

geographyIf you’re studying geography in your classroom, you won’t want to miss these 149 great websites. I have them divided as:

  • General
  • Biomes
  • California regions (only because that’s where my teaching centers)
  • Global
  • Natural Disasters
  • Survival in the…
    • Jungle
    • Desert
    • Mountains
    • Prairie
    • Ocean
    • General survival websites
  • Virtual tours (some great sites here)



Categories: Geography, Google, Science, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world that we’re studying in class. Any suggestions?

A: That’s a lot easier to do today than it used to be, thanks to Google Street View. Students love walking down the street that they just read about in a book or seeing their home on the internet. It’s also a valuable research tool for writing. What better way to add details to a setting than to go see it?

Categories: Geography, Google, Tech tips | Tags: | Leave a comment

#48: Sponge Activities for Geography

Introduce students to web-based geography activities that can be done in five or ten minutes between lessons, before lunch, in free time. I include five in this lesson.

[caption id="attachment_4325" align="aligncenter" width="567"]geography sponges Geography sponges for extra classroom time[/caption]


Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Freebies/Discounts, Geography, Lesson plans | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekend Website #133: Embeddable Puzzles

It’s the time of year when children are looking for entertainment and parents want something fun to keep their cerebral fires burning. Entertainment-cerebra–that’s not an oxymoron. Check this website on States, and then check out the other topics available on Quiz Factor.



Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Geography, Websites | Leave a comment

A Virtual Tour of America–Via Biplane

Another virtual tour, this one of America…

See more virtual tours here.


Categories: Geography, Science, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: What About Carmen San Diego?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Dawn:

We have upgraded our Computer Lab computers to Windows 7, some programs are now obsolete since they were DOS and will not run with 7. Carmen San Diego is one we used for Geography. Some teachers are sad we can’t use that anymore – the students did enjoy it. Do you know of anything our that can take its place? Thanks for your time!

I know what you mean. We tried to run it at my school–spent too much time tweaking everything–and never succeeded. I’ve had to toss it.

There are a few geography games you can look into:

They’re OK, but not as good as CSD. I’ll post your comment–see if anyone has any other ideas.


Categories: 4th Grade, Dear Otto, Geography | 4 Comments