The potential of Google My Maps

Last night, my colleague Dickie and I went to our first 21st Century Learning Teach Meet. What a fantastic event! The Teach Meets are regular opportunities to network with passionate, innovative educators and to listen to short, snappy presentations about teaching ideas (they also provide booze and cheese!) Keep an eye on the schedule and we’ll hopefully see you at the upcoming ones. You might even see us presenting!

Two presenters last night shared the ways that they had used Google My Maps with their students. William Yung‘s students created a virtual tour of World War 1 locations and Clive Dawes was able to map his young students’ holiday locations simply by importing their Google Forms data from the spreadsheet. Brilliant stuff!

The Teach Meet was a reminder that My Maps has massive potential that I have not yet fully explored. However, I did use it a few times (in basic ways) last year and I want to share those ideas.

To get started, visit Google My Maps and select ‘create a new map’. The maps can be shared like other Google documents, allowing for easy and meaningful collaboration.

Area and perimeter

During a maths study of measurement, the students were able to show the area and perimeter of different Hong Kong islands (see above image). This gave a real context to larger numbers and allowed for comparisons. They simply used the ‘draw a line’ tool to draw around the islands (as accurately as they could). Google My Maps automatically generates the area and perimeter of drawings.

Time zones

My students were inquiring into natural laws and cycles of the solar system. They had some understanding of how day and night is caused, but struggled with the concept of time zones and time differences. Why is it a different time in different places? They were particularly confused about why some neighbouring countries had different time zones while other countries were in the same time zone despite being thousands of miles apart (the UK and Ghana, for example). By colour coding countries based on time zones, students were able to identify the vertical patterns. This helped them to visualise the effects of the earth rotating on its axis and how different countries on the same longitude face the sun at the same time. They simply searched for locations, researched their time zones and changed the colour of the icons accordingly.


Class teddy

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-09-20-pmA popular idea, especially with younger grades, is to send class teddies/mascots home with students and on holiday with them. Why not plot these locations, along with photographs and reflections, on a shared My Map? Just search for the location or identify it manually, and then use the pencil icon and camera icon to add text and images to each point.

Like I said, these are the only three ways that I have used Google My Maps with my students. I have barely scratched the surface of its potential. There are many more fantastic functions that I have not yet explored. It is my aim to further explore its potential this year, particularly in preparation for our Where we are in place and time’ migration unit.

Have you used Google My Maps in the classroom? How did it work? Please share some of your ideas and reflections in the comments below.


  1. We’ve mapped setting of books we read, and then provided a short description and photograph of the book.

    Out of Eden Learn did a pilot last year where students picked a few places in their neighbourhood to explore and spent some time doing “slow looking”. They mapped them out and added photographs and/or videos!

    1. Hi Tima!

      Thanks for the comment and the ideas. They sound awesome! Like I said, I have barely scratched the surface. I am really excited to use maps more throughout this year.



    1. Hi teach2you,

      I enjoyed checking out your map of biblical locations. This must have really brought it to life for your students. Great work!

      Thanks for the comment!


Leave a Reply to Adam HillCancel reply