(All Tips of the Week can also be found on the Social Studies Central site.)

As social studies teachers, one of the things that many of us struggle with is connecting historical events with their geographical locations. In the past, it was difficult finding ways to visually illustrate those kinds of event/place connections.

With Google Earth, our jobs suddenly got much easier! Google Earth is a wonderful, free tool that allows users to manipulate geographic space in ways that were impossible even two or three years ago. It is a piece of software that can be downloaded and installed quickly onto the computers you and your students use.

Today’s tip includes several sites and a quick activity that might be useful for you.

The first place you should go (after downloading GE) is a site called GoogleLitTrips. picture-3.pngCreated by Jerome Burg, an English teacher At Granada High School in Livermore, California, GoogleLitTrips integrates literature with geography. Jerome (and others) have taken apart well-known books such as Night by Elie Wiesel and My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier and created GE tours based on locations mentioned in the stories.

This provides a wonderful way for your students to “see” the story unfold in a way that makes sense to visual learners.

Another place to find GE resources is GELessons. Designed by teachers for teachers, GELessons provides hundreds of useful activities and lessons using Google Earth as the primary teaching tool.

If you have lots of time, head over to Google Earth Hacks. You’ll find literally thousands of downloadable resources, images, maps and networked-based tours that you can incorporate into your instruction. The problem is that you can spend hours playing around on the site!

An example of a quick activity for elementary kids focusing on longitude and latitude can be found on the National Geographic Expeditions site. You’ll need to modify it a bit because it still focuses on paper and pencil maps but simply add in Google Earth and kids will love it.

With Google Earth, you’re sure to have fun!