Where are you?

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Area: History and Social Studies, Other Areas
Grade Level: Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: Geography, Google Earth, Location, Philosophy
Estimated Time Necessary: 1 hr

Lesson Plan

Think about all the different ways you can describe a location
How does visiting a place compare to actually being there? How can context change the way you would describe a location?

Warm Up Activity: Where do you live?

Ask students the following questions:

  • What street do you live on?
  • What town do you live in?
  • What state do you live in?
  • What country do you live in?
  • What do you live near? What is around you?

Reflect on this activity by reminding them that there are many different ways to answer this question. Ask them what their most specific response is and what their least specific response is.

Here are some examples of different ways to answer the question to get kids looking at it from different perspectives:

  • On Main Street
  • In the United States
  • Down the street from Northwestern
  • In a yellow house
  • A few minutes from the beach
  • On the east side of the train tracks

Google Earth Activity:

Help students get to earth.google.com and click the “Launch Earth” button.


Move around! Find somewhere random and zoom in. Drag and drop the little person icon to look at the street view. What do you see? Are there people around? Roads, houses, nature?

Zoom back in and try this again! See how many different environments you can find!

Getting more specific

Next we are going to try to find different things on Google Earth! If you want, try to see how many countries you can go to while exploring!

Try to find the items on this list:


  • Person
  • Beach
  • Forest
  • Mountain
  • Road
  • Building
  • Snow
  • Island
  • Extra Challenge:
  • Boat
  • Volcano
  • Airplane
  • Billboard
  • Car
  • Cow
  • Something you’ve never seen before
  • Something you see everyday
  • Somewhere new

Google Maps

Go to maps.google.com

Look up some of the places you traveled to on your google earth adventure.

  • What is the difference between looking at a location on a map and looking at an image of a place?
  • Which gave you more information about where you are?

Google Earth or Google Maps

  • Which website made you feel more like you were actually in that location?
  • Which website gave you more information about how to get to the location?
  • Which website gave you more information about what is around you?
  • Which website best represents the real world?
  • Think about it: Would you describe your location differently for each of these resources?


Discussion Questions

  • What was your favorite part about your Google Earth Adventure?
  • Which is a better map, google earth or google maps? Why?
  • What’s the difference between visiting a place on google earth and visiting in person? Do you think you’ll ever see these places in person? Why or why not?
  • Did you know all these places existed before this activity?
  • What are three things you learned about the world from this activity?
This lesson plan was contributed by: Eleanor Wefing, Hamilton College.