Since our 4th grade Ancient and Modern China curriculum was implemented, a "flight to China" component has often been included. Google Earth is a tool many teachers were familiar with, and both the Smartboard and netbooks have been effective in using it to explore the geographic landscape. I am not that familiar with the program and all of its capabilities, but I have a new Nike approach to teaching with technology ("Just Do It"). So I showed my trusty Powerpoint on why we study geography and ended with two exploration questions for them to use while they looked at China on Google Earth with their iPads: "What barriers do you see that would have made traveling to China in ancient times difficult?" and "Where was China the most vulnerable?"
It worked well (with only one kid who kept looking for his house instead.). They explored the boundaries, found the Himalayas, determined darker blue water was deeper, found the bulk of people and cities along the Eastern coast, decided the north was a good place to attack from (Who said attack? This is a Quaker school!), and figured that was where we would find the Great Wall. Good times! Now what?
We have a bunch of other activities in landform development and mapmaking coming up, but I would like to keep using this app too. One plan is to use it while making our 3-D plaster terrain maps. They can use it to determine where to place the mountains, valleys, and other features. The variety of community pictures of the places we study is very cool. I have found tours of Mt. Everest and other peaks. What other things are there "tours" of? Any other ideas about how to integrate Google Earth into our geography study?