Google has always been cool. They’ve got that whole search thing working for them but what I really like are their mapping / spatial tools.
I’ve been in love with Google Earth for years. It truly is a one stop shop for social studies teachers. Multiple layers of data, GoogleLitTrips, 3D buildings, historical imagery, Tour Guides, Google Earth Gallery – just about anything we need, I’m pretty Google Earth can do it.
And StreetView. Personally I think it’s magic. Especially when they use it to buzz down into interiors of buildings and onto famous landmarks.
I recently wrote about a very cool game called Pursued that takes advantage of the StreetView option in Google Earth. There are others.
One game that just came out is called GeoGuessr – same sort of idea as Pursued. You are given access to a StreetView somewhere in the world and using contextual clues, you have to guess where you are at. You are awarded points for how close your guess is to the actual spot.
Tons of geography stuff going on in these sorts of learning activities – absolute vs. relative location, regional differences, cultural differences . . . you get the idea.
Some of the games built into Google Earth or created by others using Google Earth are focused more on fun. Like the Flight Simulator you can find buried inside Google Earth. But all of them help create a sense of place, a mental map of the world, encourage kids to enjoy geography and the questions surrounding the discipline.
You might want to check out some of the other games:
Streetview Zombie Apocalypse
You select a location where you want to get dropped and using StreetView, have to avoid, well . . . zombies who want to eat your brains.
Pretty much what it sounds like. Questions that you can solve using the clues contained in the StreetView.
Real World Racer
Choose a route (a pre-created one or one that you ask your kids to create) and then race your car against the computer using keyboard controls. Pretty simple but you could have kids create a track around a battlefield or through different regions.