This week’s post is by guest author Caroline Ross. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with these tools and the ways they could be used until now. I’m looking forward to using them with my 5th grader!
In itself, Google is one of the best educational tools out there. If used properly and scoured carefully, the powerful search engine can lead homeschooled students and teachers to authoritative resources that can be referenced in essays, presentations, and homework assignments. But Google can do far more than just direct you to a third-party source.
Google actually offers a variety of specially designed tools that can act as great enhancers for lesson plans. While there are various tools to choose from—all of which can be located under the “more” tab at the top of the task bar when using the search engine–the most interactive tools for home schoolers are Panoramio, Earth, and Picasa. To learn what these tools can do and how they can be utilized in the home-classroom, continue reading below.
Like the name suggests, Panoramio gives users a “panoramic” view of the world with the help of photos. It’s a community-based tool, so both amateur and professional photographers submit photos from places they’ve traveled to. Some of the shots featured on Panoramio are so exquisite that they can put any of the photos featured in textbooks to shame. They can also provide a current and better view of historical landmarks and geographical areas, which can really come in handy with various social studies, history, and geography lessons. There’s even a Panoramio game that allows players to guess where the image was taken—so geography skills can be tested even further.
The Google Earth tool is one of the most comprehensive geography tools online. Although it has some similar features as Panoramio, it varies substantially. What makes Earth so special is the library of virtual tours and videos can help put various science, history, art, architecture, or geography lessons into perspectives. For example, Google Earth allows users to tour birthplaces of U.S. presidents, tour the moon and or Mars, and take 3-D tours of various historical landmarks, buildings and cities. Google Earth can really help a lesson come to life, and act as a supplement to any curriculum.
Picasa can help students become a modern day Picasso—well, sort of. It’s a photo editing tool on the surface, but Picasa can help perfect images for slideshow presentations, movies, and other projects. It can also be used more creatively—a historical photo album where a student has to dress up as a historical figure and research about him or her would be one example. The possibilities are endless; it just may take some creativity.
Consider adding one or more of these tools to your homeschool curriculum for enhancement and enrichment.
Caroline Ross is a former educator and a regular contributor to AccreditedOnlineUniversities.com. She welcomes your comments.