Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Google Maps, a Geography Lesson, and Boredom Buster Rolled Into One
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I love Google Maps. Have you checked it out with your children?
One of our favorite activities is to pick a location, like our house, Grandma's house, the Smithsonian museum, or my favorite - one of the towns I lived in as a child, that my own children have not had a chance to visit in person yet, and bring it up on Google Maps.
We usually start with a country view, and then zoom in little by little, to the town we want, alternating back and forth between street map, and satellite views. I like to point out rivers, railroad tracks, mountains, and the like, to the children as we zoom in. Then, once we pinpoint the particular address we want on the map, we grab the icon of the little man, switch over to a street view, and take a look around.
The children love "walking" by friends' and relatives' houses. They've retraced my steps, with me, from the house I lived in when I was school aged, down the streets to my first elementary school. And, we've taken countless virtual field trips through the streets of larger cities. We've even followed along with Daddy, when he's had to make long distance trips for his work. They love taking a look at the hotel where he's staying, and then panning around in the picture, to see what restaurants, and gas stations are nearby, to share with him when he calls.
There are drawbacks, of course. The street view maps, are from a few years back, so some newer neighborhoods, or buildings, won't show up. And not all cities, or streets within a city, are available for street view. In that case, we switch to satellite view, and get as close as we can, and then try to identify things like shopping malls, schools, and industrial areas.
It's entertaining, educational, challenging, and free.
For more geography lesson, and activity ideas, check out the geography and history link up at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.
It's great to be a homeschooler.