Maps and Globes
Google Maps includes satellite zooming in and out as part of its map service. Your younger students will get a kick out of finding their home and school. Look for new features, like traffic reports and 3D street level views of selected cities.
For an interactive, highly detailed, 3D look at the world, check out Google Earth. It's free to use, but requires that you use the Google Chrome browser.
Google Earth combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. Fly to your house. Just type in an address, click on Search, and you'll zoom right in. You can use Google Earth to illustrate lessons in history, science, and literature.
If you have a Gmail account or use any of Google's apps on your smartphone, there's a good chance Google has some of your location data stored in its systems. There's an easy way to see exactly what Google knows about where you've been, and you can even see a map of past locations you have visited. Can also give students (and adults) a wake-up call on exactly how much you are being tracked.
Heads Up: Take a look at your data before showing it to your class. The tracking information is very accurate.
The British Library has digitized vintage maps from all over the world, including the United States. Simply zoom in to an area of interest and click on any of the red location dots to see the original map overlaid on Google Maps. Use the slider to see how well the original map matches up.
Rare maps, such as early explorations in the US, can be viewed at the Hargrett Library, part of the University of Georgia.
Earth's City Lights is remarkable, allowing one to identify major cities and roads just by their lights. It also graphically shows the difference between "have" and "have not" nations.
The National Park Service offers curriculum in both geology and paleontology.
The Online World Atlas includes satellite images as well as the more traditional continents, regions, and countries.
Topographic maps offer good content for "scaffolding" geographical features and land use. They are an alternative to traditional visuals.
The Central Pacific Railroad Maps show the transcontinental phenomena of railroads, migration patterns, and transportation policies.
For a different view of the Earth, take a look at NASA's Visible Earth site, showing everything from The Big Blue Marble to recent fires.
Another "world view" can be found at The World Wide Panorama, a project originally sponsored by the Geography Computing Facility at the University of California Berkeley.
Don't forget about the Cloud (portal.gplates.org). Virtual globes show Earth as it is today while others allow reconstructions through geological time 1.1 billion years ago!
EarthCache teaches map reading and navigation for places not accessible in the real world.
The Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine features exhibits series of maps over times such as World II, the role of the gas station. Each resource is accompanied by a lesson plan and supporting materials.
Since the late 18thc. insurance companies have prepared city maps not only to detail building but also maintenance resources (water and gas mains). The Library of Congress holds more than 700,00 such maps. While not all the maps are online, sample images show how towns and cities changed over time.
Interactive possibilities are intriguing and students with embryonic art skills can utilize these resources and appropriate software to draw and illustrate their own maps. The resulting products can project professional quality. What are other possibilities?