Google Earth is an amazing free resource that every student should enjoy using. Nothing gives a better overview of our world, while also offer a way to dive into the minute details. The 3D imagery lets you view so many famous places in a way that you almost feel like you are there.
Google Earth is free to download. Just go to the Google Earth website. There is a desktop, web, and mobile version available. The Google Earth Pro version is now free and adds a few nice features for teaching geography, such as being able to calculate distances between points.
There are so many ways to use Google Earth in teaching geography! This is just the first of several posts on this topic. Below are several resources to get you started.
Tutorials on using Google Earth
From the 148 page users guide to the many tutorials available, there is no excuse for not knowing how to use Google Earth. A great place to start is the tutorial on creating a narrated tour. Narrated tours give you a way to create an automated video-like tour in which you can add your own narration, text comments, and zoom from place to place. Use it to teach geography by assigning students a country and have them narrate a tour of famous landmarks.
This free online game uses Google images to plop you down somewhere in the world. You can navigate around in the image and then guess, based on the visual clues, where in the world you are! It is addictively fun. (I just wasted another half hour on it!)
Google Earth Outreach Showcase
The Google Earth showcase gives examples of how different non-profit organizations are using Google Earth. There are several in the showcase that could be used in your study of geography. The USGS is featured with their real-time earthquake map.
Google Earth Tips and Tricks
This help site for Google Earth has several easy ideas for getting started with Google Earth. They are a great way to introduce your students to the software and interest them in learning more.
Google Earth Lit Trips are a great way to connect literature and geography. The concept is simple: use Google Earth to create maps showing the journey of a character in a piece of literature. From classics like The Odyssey to more modern works such as The Kite Runner, Lit Trips are a great way to integrate these two subjects. The website has downloadable files to get you started and inspire your student to create their own lit trip.