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Google Earth Resources

This page contains the following freely available resources:

Training Resources/Software Downloads


Print Resources

Google Earth is available online or from the district server (faster when you are in district): To access it, just go to the Go Menu and select Connect to Server...

  • Then enter smb://file1/software/Macintosh/Applications
  • You will be asked for your email username and password
  • Open the Google Earth folder and drag the installer to your desktop
  • Install Google Earth by double clicking it and dragging it to your applications folder; delete the installer after you have completed installation.

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Teaching Strategies and Resources

Prior to using the resources below, it is important to understand KML and KMZ files. Listen to the audio file or see the Wikipedia for more information about these file types. Special thanks to Heather Klym for her work on the ideas and resources for using GE in the elementary classroom.

  • Lesson Plan — This simple lesson uses Layers to ask questions
  • Teacher and Lesson Sites (PDF file)
  • World’s Tallest Skyscrapers — make sure you have the buildings layer turned on when viewing this information
  • Google Earth Wiki (shared community) — this site is for teachers to share resources and and ideas for Google Earth.  It has a lot of useful information and lesson ideas.
  • Miscellaneous Google Earth Files — Includes a travel guide, world wide panoramas, and two American Revolution files
  • Google Earth Community (GEC) — These resources are created by people from around the world. You can search by topic and keywords. For example, searching in the History Illustrated category with a keyword of "slave" provides 108 results of places on earth that have some relationship to slavery. As with all online resources, be sure to check for veracity.

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  • Google Lit Trips: this site maps contains a collection of literature-based Google Earth files.  Most are for older kids.  However, it is being updated often.  You class could create a lit trip.
  • Meerkat Mail — A fun way to integrate literature using the book Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett .  The lesson has a nice outline and could be used with many books.
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Math and Science

Downloadable files that can be opened with Google Earth:

  • Use the direction mode put a From address and a To address. The route will be traced and a distance given. 
    • Students could find out how many miles they traveled during the summer, or figure out how far they live from school.  After collecting the data the whole class could figure out the mean, median, mode and range of the collected data.  
  • Find the difference of miles, temperature, and elevation from one location to another
  • Use Google Earth to model the earth’s rotation and tilt instead of the globe and flashlight trick
  • Connect Google Earth with the Foss Landforms Science Kit
  • Glaciers and More: The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has a wonderful library of Google Earth enabled content for you to use as you examine topics such as Glaciers, Sea Ice, Permafrost and Antarctica
  • More Glacial Features: zoom in on Denali (Alaska, USA) and point out a number of glacial features including pyramidal peaks, arêtes, etc.
  • Earth Tools: find elevation, sunrise, and sunset times; connections with mathematical concepts of time and calculations.
  • Daylight Map: helps you map daylight and clouds
  • Volcanoes: use the volcano layer to locate volcanoes throughout the world.  Where are they located? Which country has the most? Why?  Which volcanoes are active?
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Reading — Houghton Mifflin 3rd Grade Reading Connections

GE placemarks designed to use along side HM to enhance instruction and integrate geography into our teaching! Use these placemarks and questions to start discussions with your class about these different locations and cultures. A special thanks to Jamie Baynes from Yolanda Elementary for creating these placemarks!

Reading — Houghton Mifflin 4th Grade Reading Connections

  • Theme 1 Journeys:   Record destinations traveled to in the story and watch Google Earth map it.
  • Theme 2 American Stories:  Find where they take place in America,  what does the geography of the land have to do with the story?
  • Theme 5 Heroes: Where is the hero from, why are they famous? Find where they are from and zoom in on them. Where did their travels take them in life. Use placemarks to track it.
  • Theme 6 Nature, Friend or Foe:  Track hurricanes, volcanoes any wild weather

Reading — Houghton Mifflin 5th Grade Reading Connections

  • Theme 1  Natures Fury:   Track hurricanes, volcanoes any wild weather find where the stories in the book take place.
  • Theme 3 Voices of the Revolution:  Use the social studies KMZ files for place marks already created  (see below)
  • Theme 5  One Land Many Trails: Use the social studies KMZ files for place marks already created  (see below) of the Oregon Trail.  Compare what the areas look like today vs long ago.
  • Theme 6  Animal Encounters:  Locate where the animals are from and find their habitat on Google Earth.  Use the KMZ file below that relates to conservation.
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Social Studies/Geography

  • Land Forms: Write about, locate, and create placemarks about landforms
  • State research: create placemarks of important landmarks in a state, write why it is important include the history of the landmark. Students can present their findings using Google Earth.
  • World Geography: compare and contrast where we live to other regions in the world
  • Explore Your Earth (Scholastic): this cross-curricular language arts, geography, and science site focuses on local and worldwide environmental issues. 

Downloadable files that can be opened with Google Earth:



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  • Record observations and "I wonder" questions for any region or area you are studying
  • Use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast, use observations to write descriptive paragraphs
  • Students can write a narrative story and add placemarks to show where their story takes place.
  • Plot a summer trip and download pictures from the trip with a short description of the stops

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  • Article: Students can create placemarks of where they live and attach a written description (NOTE: DO NOT post these types of assignments on the internet or school server)
  • Article: See the World with Google's Mapping Program
  • Article: Using the Compass Rose and Map Reading

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Class Projects

Downloadable files that can be opened with Google Earth:

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Tracking the News in Google Earth

KML and KMZ files may contain what is called "RSS" information. RSS means "really simple syndication." This means that we can use an RSS reader (Google Earth has this capability) to subscribe to feeds.

As syndicators (e.g. CBS, BBC) add more information, you will automatically see the information displayed in your RSS reader, in this case, Google Earth.

The cool thing about this is that Google Earth doesn't just display the news from these syndicated sources. It displays the news geographically. This generally means that the stories will show up at the location where they are being syndicated from.

How might visually-based news change your students perception of news? Download the CBS News RSS KML file.

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Using Google Search to find KML/KMZ Files

Listen to the KML/KMZ File Search Overview. Associated image and search results are below.

For the latest information on ways to use Google Earth, read the Google Earth Blog.

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