Importing data into a Google My Map only takes a few clicks and a CSV, TSV, KML, KMZ, GPX, or XLSX file. This is especially handy in the classroom for research and tracking data.
It’s no secret that I LOVE Google My Maps and incorporating them into lessons. Whether it’s to have students document their learning like in the Pre-Columbian People’s lesson, or a self-guided lesson on Marco Polo (with additional tasks to show understanding); My Maps are the bee’s knees for me! But there are some insanely cool, yet lesser known, Geo Tools out there?
Smarty Pins – This fun game combines trivia and location skills. Players are given a trivia question, which correlates to a place in the world, that they then must place Peg Man on the map. This game was developed by Google. The closer you are to the location, and faster you are, the more ‘miles’ you earn. You are given 1000 miles to start the game. However, if you are not accurate you lose ‘miles’. So if your answer is 149 miles away, that’s how many ‘miles’ or points you lose. Once you are out of ‘miles’ the games ends.
GeoGuessr – This is a super fun, highly addictive game (if you’re a nerd like me!). There are 2 modes and several GeoGuessr Maps to choose from. When you arrive on the site, the first game is ‘Explore the World’. Using Google Maps Street View, you are dropped in a location. Using clues (signs, vegetation, cars, etc.) you need to place a pin on the map as to the location of where you are. Scrolling a bit further down on the page, there are several maps focusing on countries, cities, and continents. I clicked on ‘North America’ where game maps for Canada and United States, along with some cities, appeared. You can set a timer for minutes and seconds. I mentioned a second mode: Challenge. This is where you can challenge a friend.
GeoSettr – This is similar to GeoGuessr, but YOU create your own GeoGuessr game. You start by dropping Peg Man in a location on the map on the left, zoom in as far as needed to find your desired location. You can see the view your players will see on the right screen. Then, set the pin for that round. You have 5 rounds. Once you have completed your GeoSettr, the game will give you a unique URL to share. You can check out mine. This could be fun for 5th Grade States and state capitals.
History Pin – This is a new one for me. This combines my love of historical (or family shared) photos with maps. I have only browsed some collections and was in nerd heaven! Again, using Google Maps and Google Maps Street View you are shown the Street View image of what the location looks like today with an insert of a photo, or image, from the past. Check out this example from Eastern Market in Detroit, MI.
Tour Builder – One of my all time favorites. This lets you create your own map story. The story is a bit more linear than using regular Google Maps. You choose all destinations in the order you want. You can add text, photos, and videos. Here’s a quick ‘Cheat Sheet‘ I created to help get you started.
Google Maps allows you to draw a line, or polygon, when creating custom maps. This can be achieved by choosing the Draw a Line tool, choosing the type of line you’d like, and clicking along the places you would like to mark off.
I especially like the feature that allows users to change the color of the line and polygon, and change the line width.