Google Maps in the Classroom

In Classroom Tools on April 8, 2009 at 12:06 PM

For my final ECMP 455 project, I worked with Chelsea Jones to create a Google map in regards to our upcoming trip in Las Vegas.  Also posted you will find numerous ways to use Google maps in your classroom, along with specific outcomes as stated in the Saskatchewan Evergreen Curriculum.


Google Maps in the Classroom


Google maps allows teachers to design highly motivating activities that encourage students to practice reading, writing and speaking skills as well as develop visual literacy and technical skills. It appeals to visual learners in particular. It is easily adaptable for project based learning tasks for the entire class, for groups or for individuals. And best of all, it is fun and free!

As both of us are going to be elementary school teachers, our focus for this assignment is using Google maps in the elementary classroom.  Google Maps is highly visual and contains detailed information can be incorporated into numerous lesson plans.  Students can use Google Maps to learn about specific locations and see what they look like from an aerial view, compare their home streets with those of distant pen pals, and study satellite images. 

Google maps are also editable, which makes it easy for students to personalize their own maps.  Through this you are able to pin point various places on a maps and add videos, links, and other relevant information.  Students could create a map on what they have done over a school holiday; teachers could use it as a tool to creating an itinerary for field trips, and even to mark the journey of various other people, such as characters in a book. 

In today’s classroom, it is important to capitalize on the children’s interests and experiences.  Adding the use of technology engages students into learning.  Through Google maps, students can view that map from a simple local map view, terrain or satellite view. 


  1. Social Studies

The way that social studies are taught in an elementary school classroom varies greatly at different grade levels.  For young students, the “traditional” approach to teaching history, such as through lecture, taking notes, learning facts and dates, test taking, is highly ineffective today.  It is important that young children learn about social studies through a resource based approach.  It is important to avoid using historical events in isolation.  It is important to draw connections with the students’ present lives, the environment, technology and current events (Saskatchewan Evergreen Curriculum) 

Students will most likely be more familiar with maps, than the globe, and as a result will have distorted views of the world.  Through Google maps, students would be able to see the world in many different views, therefore clearing up this misunderstanding.  It is important that students are exposed to a variety of maps and have the opportunity to see the world from different perspectives. 

For many young children, it is difficult for them to imagine what something looks like from an Ariel view.  This does develop with age, but by using Google maps, students will quickly have a better understanding of this term and how maps are made. 

Google maps would prove to be a vital component in any elementary school social studies classroom.  It would teach students to use virtual maps while learning about different components of mapping.  In Saskatchewan, mapping is introduced in grade two and is carried through until grade five.  As stated in the Saskatchewan Evergreen Curriculum, these are the outcomes students are expected to achieve during mapping units that exist within the classroom (all of which could be accomplished with the use of Google maps):


Grade 2:

      Specific Outcomes:

      Students Will:

·        identity, group, community, maps, symbols

·        Know that communities have natural and constructed features.

·        Know that communities have similarities and differences

·        Access information from various resources including maps.

·        Organize and present information using maps and charts.

Suggested Activities:

  • Study and make large, simple maps of the school, neighbourhood and greater community. Use a key, scale, and direction rose.
  • Use pictures, films, filmstrips, books, to explore a variety of neighbourhoods or communities. Identify how they are different from and similar to the local community. Consider their location, size, age, purpose, and composition. (Or Google Map
  • Study a map of a familiar area such as the school or neighbourhood. Discuss the different symbols used.
  • Make a map of the classroom, school, and/or playground.  
  • Use an aerial photo of a farm or of your area to give the students the perspective of a map.
  • Make a large map of the neighbourhood. Use a key, scale, and direction rose. Indicate the neighbourhood boundaries, the school, and natural and constructed features. Have students make symbols for features such as houses, school, and playground and add them to the map. Keep the map for further additions.
  •  Start a map of the community and surrounding area. Add natural features such as rivers, lakes, hills, valleys. Keep the map for further additions.
  • Add the main streets of your community to the map. Have students suggest other constructed features such as railways, buildings, and bridges to put on the map. Keep the map and add other features (city hall, factory) as you learn about them.
  • Use maps to plan routes for field trips. Have students follow your route on a map during the trip.

Grade 3:
Students compare Canadian cities.

      Specific Outcomes:

      Students will:

·        Know that the natural environment helps shape the community.

·        Know that various reasons determine the differences and similarities between communities

·        Identify characteristics of various communities.

·        Identify and explain some similarities and differences between communities.

·        Appreciate that communities have similarities and differences.

      Suggested Activities:

  • Review features of the local community which was studied in Grade 2. Include natural features such as climate, seasons, size, the landscape (e.g., hills, vegetation, river, lakes), and constructed features (e.g., streets, buildings, dam).
  • The teacher may choose to have the students study and compare two communities from nature (e.g., a nearby swamp and a bluff of trees). Comparisons may involve the life forms and food chains as well as the smells and sounds.
  • Compare the local community with one that is quite different but that the students are familiar with.
  • Compare the climate of the two communities. Make connections between climate and lifestyles of the people.
  • Compare the landforms and environments of the communities. Make connections with how the physical environment affects the constructed environment as well as people’s lives.
  • If the community under study has a well-known structure (e.g., Toronto’s Sky Dome, Golden Boy in Winnipeg), have the students recreate it.
  • Study a map of the local community as well as maps of the communities under study. Display the map along with pictures of the community. Have the students make connections between the pictures and the maps.
  • In studying maps of cities, compare where the different areas (e.g., downtown, industrial area, parks) are located. Identify various natural features (e.g., river, hills, islands, and ocean) and how the city is built on or around them. Compare where certain buildings (e.g., museums, hotels, City Hall, police station) are located. Discuss reasons why they are located in similar or different areas.
  • Introduce the students to Canada as a country. The teacher may choose to use a map of the Canada and of the world. Discuss different places within the country that the students have heard of, have visited, or know something about.
  • In preparation to expand this study to other areas of the world, the teacher may initiate activities that will increase the students’ knowledge of world geography, for example:
    • compile a list of place names they hear throughout the year, and use an atlas to locate these places;


Grade 4: They begin with an introductory unit that establishes the identity of the province. Using maps, charts, graphs, and other tools, students develop an understanding of Saskatchewan today.

      Specific Outcomes:

      Students Will:

·        Identify province, geographic features, map, scale, direction, grid, climate, symbols, heroes

·        Know that Saskatchewan, a province in Canada, has regions that may be defined by landforms, climate, and vegetation

·        Know that various symbols have been identified to represent the province and its regions

·        Know that various kinds of communities exist in northern/southern, rural/urban areas of the province population distribution is related to various factors including opportunities for work

·        Know that many Saskatchewan women, men, and children from many areas of work and recreation may be recognized as heroes

·        interpret and create maps of local communities and the province

·        learn to see relationships between/among climate, landforms, vegetation, population distribution, and opportunities for work

·        identify provincial and regional symbols and describe their significance

Suggested Activities:

  •  Have the students participate in various activities that develop map reading skills (e.g., playing Battleships, interpreting symbols, and working with grid, measuring and drawing to various scales).
  • Practice the using grid, scale, direction, and color to interpret various simple maps.
  • Cut sections from a Saskatchewan road map. Enlarge them and make photocopies or overhead transparencies. Have students working in groups to make up questions about their section of the map. Exchange with another group to answer the questions. Return them to the original group to check answers.
  • Have students working in groups to create large maps or a model of the province. Absolute accuracy of scale should not be a concern. The teacher may choose to have students add additional information to the map during the course of the year.
  • Explore the weather and climate of the province. Have students interpret climate maps and graphs. Hang a thermometer outside a window on the north side of the school. Over a period of time, record the temperature at a certain time of day on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The students may also record other weather conditions at the same time
  • Identify severe weather conditions like tornadoes, blizzards, strong winds, drought, and other storms. Discuss how they affect people, animals, and the environment.
  • Study maps of Canada. Identify other provinces and territories.
  • Make connections between/among location, climate and landforms.
  • Identify the various symbols that are associated with the province. Make connections with the geography and the people of the province. Discuss the appropriateness of the symbols. Have students select or design their own symbols.
  • Map as a model: Construct a model (train set, town, and farm). Photograph the model looking down on it and using several shots. Patch photos together to make a larger picture. Draw maps on the basis of the photographs.
  • Use reproductions of aerial photos, and other maps, to study local communities and the province.
  • Using a road map of Saskatchewan to determine directions from place to place.
  • Use a road map of Saskatchewan to determine distances using the scale. Use a variety of maps to compare scale. Which maps represent larger or smaller areas?
  • Mapping Saskatchewan: turn to a map of Saskatchewan in an atlas and explore: the shape of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan’s approximate length and width (use scale to determine this), and Saskatchewan’s neighboring provinces, territory, and states.
  • Turn to a map of Canada and examine Saskatchewan in relation to the rest of the country. Look at size, location, number of major cities and towns. Make some comparisons with the other provinces.

·        Examine Saskatchewan within the context of North America, and the world. Look at it in terms of size, position, population, distances between major centers, and so on.

·        What features in the vegetation regions (animals, lumber, and minerals) would attract people to Saskatchewan and encourage them to stay here? How might people use the resources in each of these regions? For example, why might people settle along the shores of the South Saskatchewan River? A river can offer transportation, water, pasture, wood for fuel, and fencepost.

·        Identify the symbols of the province and local symbols (e.g., for the fair, town). Research the meanings and the significance of the symbols.

·        Use large scale city maps to compare cities.

    • What highways lead to each city?
    • Where are the business and industrial areas located?
    • What is the arrangement of parks in each?
    • Which waterways run through the city?
    • How many bridges and tunnels are there?
    • Is the city compact, or spread out?
    • Are any two cities exactly alike?
  • Find provincial and national parks on a highway map. Collect pictures of activities that people enjoy while visiting a provincial park
  • Explore reasons why people would settle in particular areas. Read the following scenarios about families that are planning to move. Where is the best place for the family to go? Give reasons for your answer.
    • Janet’s parents have decided they do not want to farm any more. Both her parents finished high school before she was born. They now want to go to university. Her dad wants to take classes to become a high school English teacher and her mom wants to study engineering. Where should they move?
    • Bob lives with his dad in Saskatoon. Every spring his dad really looks forward to working in the big garden in their backyard. Last week when his dad was laid off from his job, he decided he’d like to buy a few hectares of land and garden for a living. He would grow vegetables and sell them at the summer markets in Saskatoon. He could also advertise in the Star Phoenix for people to come and buy vegetables from his small farm. Where should they move?
    • Barbara just graduated from university. She sent job applications to many places. She has just been offered a job in the legislative building as a special assistant to one of the MLA’s. Where might she live?
    • Dan has just retired from his job in Regina. He has always loved spending his summer holidays camping and fishing in northern Saskatchewan. He has decided to live on an island on a lake where the fishing is good. Where should he go?
    • Louise has just graduated from university with a degree in veterinary medicine. She has a pre-school daughter and would like to set up a clinic in a small town close to where there are farms that raise cattle. Where might she move.

Grade 5
: In grade five, students explore the identity of Canada.  They learn about its geography, landforms, rivers, climate and vegetation.  They learn about places in the country, its symbols and people.  Here, students develop skills that allow them to create and interpret maps. 

Specific Outcomes:

Students will:

·        Interpret various maps of Canada.

·        Identify and describe climate and geographic features of a region

·        See relationships between climate, landforms, vegetation, and population

·        Understand that maps show Canada in different ways

·        Identify and interpret symbols of Canada to its regions

Map Symbols

·        Find and interpret the legends on a variety of maps of Canada or regions of Canada.

·        Use direction and grid

·        Use scale to determine distances

·        Locate and describe geographic features


Suggested Activities:

·        Explore various types of globes and maps to identify features that are natural (mountains, water), political boundaries (countries, provinces, and states), cartographic markings (grid, equator)

·        Compare maps

·        Use a variety of maps to become familiar with different symbols that are used

·        Locate geographic regions in Canada (Arctic, Canadian Shield)

·        Locate provinces/territories of Canada

·        Use historical maps to see how boundaries have changed over time

·        Identify various natural features found in Canada

Map Symbols

  • Using a resource, explore the different ways Canada has been divided at different times during history. 
  • Investigate where people tend to live.  Study a map of Canada showing population distribution.  Locate major cities, major farming communities, reserves, and the sparsely populated regions, especially the north. 
  • Choose several Canadian or world locations that are some distance apart.  Mark the locations on a classroom map.  Chart the weather over a period of time.  Make comparisons.
  • Choose several Canadian locations.  Describe the features.

Tracing Routes:

Identify the means of communication or transportation. 

  • Your aunt is moving from Yorkton to Sydney, Australia.  How will she travel?
  • Your mom won an Air Canada trip for two from Calgary to Los Angeles.  How will you and she get there from your home?
  • A business company in La Range has just received a call from Hong Kong for a large order of wild Rice.  How will the wild rice get there?
  • Your school raises money for UNICEF.  IF the money you collected goes to help immunize children in Morocco, how will the money get there?
  • This morning one of the students in your class brought a letter that she received from her pen pal in Nigeria.  How did the letter get to her home?


                Field Trips

Field trips expand children’s learning through active hands-on experience with the rich resources of the local community. Field trips increase student knowledge and understanding of a subject and add realism to the topic of study.

Good planning must precede field trips. Field trips take a great deal of work and planning on the part of the teacher.  It is also highly beneficial to prepare your students before taking them to the site.  Activities such as showing photographs of the site, visiting websites, and sharing the trip schedule.  By using Google Maps, teacher can have the field trip itinerary already prepared for their students to view, or the class could work on the map together.  Through the use of Google Maps, videos, pictures and websites can all be added on right on the map.  Students can look at the location of the site in comparison to where they live, and so on.  Also the different views of satellite and terrain add special components to the students understanding of the site they are going to be visiting.  Students are able to see how long it will take them to get to the site; they can decide on which mode of transportation they will be taking.  Through this, students are working on their mapping skills by pin pointing, using scale, etc.  Also, students are reading, writing and improving their visual and technological skills.

Personal Narrative

Google maps could also be used in the classroom for students to create a map of where, for example, they went over the summer holidays.  They would be able to link it to websites, videos or even add personal photos.



Final Days

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2009 at 2:02 PM

It is hard to believe that many of us are teachers in four days (if you do not have finals) and by the end of the month if you do.  It seems like yesterday when I was still in high school deciding what I wanted to do as a future profession.  Obviously I chose education, and I am still overwhelmed with the idea that four years of schooling is over and it is time to take the next step in life.  It is time to find a job and spend the next thirty years teaching.  No longer will I see the time of doing endless hours of essays and reflections, but rather begin endless hours of school work–correcting, planning, preparing and evaluating.  It is time to say good-bye to relying on my parents for financial assistance, but rather paying for rent, bills and groceries on my own.   I am very excited to be beginning this new phase in my life, but at the same time it is scary.  Obviously all you hope for is the best,  but life does not always work that way.  There is a very high chance that I could struggle to find a permanent job (as many teachers in Saskatchewan do).  However, whatever happens it will be exciting to put a closure to one aspect of my life and say hello to a new opening.  I am  looking forward to what my future holds and wish all the best to my fellow classmates and teachers.

Computer Virus

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 11:44 PM

Today was the first I had heard about the computer virus that is supposed to take place beginning tonight at midnight (which is in 20 minutes from now).  Anyway, I had night class tonight and our professor suggested that we all make sure our computer virus software is up to date to ensure that we do not get hit by this virus.  Having over two hours to drive home, I began thinking about how so many people could know about a virus taking place before it actually does.  I heard it was on the news over the weekend, and have a hard time wrapping my head around this whole computer virus thing.  Then, as I was thinking about this on my way home, it dawned on me that tomorrow is April 01, April Fool’s Day.  Is it possible that the news and everyone in the province could be scrambling because of a simple April Fool’s joke?  Who knows.  I just hope that if this virus is real, that it does not attack my computer, as I am only a couple weeks away from completion of my education degree.  A bummed computer would be the worst possible scenario to end the semester and my university career.  I hope that all of you are safe from this virus and have updated your computer protection software.