Children love exploring and Google Earth is a great resource that allows them to explore, the whole world, whilst on an iPad or Laptop. Giving them free time on google earth will probably result in them finding and identifying their own house (if they know their address)!
By setting starter challenges such as ‘who can find Rio?’ or ‘which country do elephants live in a natural habitat?’ gets the children thinking, gives them a sense of adventure and scale (a key concept in the learning and teaching of geography) as they would have to zoom in and out to discover specific places and areas.
Similarly, Google Earth can be used across a range of other subjects to broaden curiosity and give a sense of space and location. In History, children could locate where certain historical events took place and how perhaps they impacted on our life today. They could look at and make with their finger, the long ship journeys the Romans made when they invaded new land, and compare that to how we travel today. Children could find places of religious interest, and in art, create pictures that help depict the terrain of the land from above. Google Earth could also be beneficial to spark ideas about wow words within English creative writing.
In addition, Google Earths 3D building feature allows users to click on buildings, see it in 3D form and it gives extra information regarding that particular building…Amazing, especially if children were looking at buildings in ancient Rome or even the pyramids in Egypt. Furthermore, the Moon feature could easily be linked to History and Science and the Historical Imagery feature, well that changes aspects of teaching history and research!
In the Geography Learning to make a Difference Ofsted report (2011) it outlined the need for schools to utilise technology with the subject to provide relevance and instil enthusiasm into young learners. Google Earth is a great to foster that imagine and enthusiasm for geography. Children with fewer travelling opportunities or know little about the world we live in could easily think of hundreds of questions by exploring Google Earth for 5 minutes.
The whole world is at their finger tips and schools who may not have easy access to school trips away from their local area for various reasons can utilise Google Earth by visually showing the children the size of the world and conducting further research into how people live in other countries or even just out of the local area.
There’s many more great teaching ideas and resources at TeachPrimary for both Ks1 and KS2.