Today I want to share a fun, free, and versatile resource for teaching: Google My Maps!

There are SO many things you can do with maps to help connect kids to the world. One of my son’s favorite activities is dragging the little yellow person icon to a road to check out the street view.

Did you know you can also create your own maps? I first started making maps with custom locations to help plan trips, placing hotels, restaurants, and points of interest on the map. It was also a very helpful tool for apartment hunting in a city I’d never been to before.

I wasn’t surprised when my son started looking over my shoulder and asked to make his own. After playing around with it a bit, we started Project Playground as a way to keep track of new parks that we wanted to visit.

His #1 favorite part is picking the icon. And he was thrilled (ok so was I) when Google updated their map markers earlier this year. There’s also a function to upload your own custom markers!

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let me give you a quick tutorial and then we will share some ideas for using this awesome learning tool.


How to Use Google My Maps

  1. Go to Google My Maps and create new map. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll have to sign up for one.
  2. Add a title, description, etc. You can change the base layer to fit your map’s focus.
  3. Start adding places. You can add points manually or using the search bar.
  4. Once the point is added, you can style your icons, add information and see latitude and longitude coordinates.
  5. There is a large choice of pins and flat icons, which can all be modified by color. There is also an option for custom icons. (Flags or other images can be found easily using the Google Image Search option or you can upload your own.)
  6. Once you’ve learned to add places, experiment with layers to add categories that can be included or excluded easily.
  7. You can also add your own shapes or routes. Like place points, they are extremely customizable.
  8. Once you finish, click on Share and decide who can see your map. You can invite others to edit your map too!

Working with Google Maps is very intuitive. Kids will likely pick up on it quickly and soon be teaching you new tricks. We enjoy using it for an array of needs, from listing favorite destinations to studying geography. I have so many ideas of how we can use this technology in our homeschool. We can of course create custom maps of countries that we study. We can use the tools to calculate distances. It would also be so useful for historical studies, with plenty of space to insert important notes about places of interest. There’s also so much that could be done with science: geology, landforms, climate.

Have you used Google Maps in your home for education? How did you use them?

What about have you tried any of these games?!


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