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Tools of the Trade

Think Outside the Map

Take your geography lessons to the next level with these tools for deeper learning and a new spin on core concepts. Students will leave their classroom behind and become explorers of distant continents and their own backyards.

By Caeli Mazara

  1. Google Earth Education
    Free; Available in French

    This groundbreaking 3D-viewing platform offers explorers a chance to go on a global adventure. Search filters make it easy to find an ideal lesson, whether it's geographic sleuthing with Carmen Sandiego or biodiversity on the high seas following marine biologists off the coast of Costa Rica.

    Grades K–12

  2. GeoGuessr
    Free for limited use, or $4.79/month; Available in French

    This point-and-click game drops players somewhere in the world and asks them to figure out where they are. The app gets students thinking critically about geographical and cultural identifiers. They'll look for clues like flags, writing and vegetation to solve this geographical puzzle.

    Grades 4–12

  3. Native Land Digital
    Free; Available in French

    Launched in 2019, this free website maps Indigenous territories worldwide. Students can filter by First Nation, language or treaty, and can enter their address to find out what territory they live in. The site encourages students to use the map as a starting point, and links to other resources for further learning opportunities.

    Grades K–12

  4. Maps101
    Free trial, US$9.99/month

    Scroll through the database for maps of just about anything, including the solar system, world religions, the War of 1812, and blueberry production. Membership also gives teachers access to Esri GeoInquiries (recommended for Grades 4–12), a geography resource full of inquiry-based learning activities.

    Grades K–12

  5. Stack the Countries
    $3.99 — Visit Apple Store or Google Play

    This app offers three modes of play, a mini-journey around the world, and flash cards that give a snapshot of a nation. Puzzle-style mode asks players to fit countries into a blank continent, and geography trivia rewards correct answers with a country outline players "stack" to reach a finish line.

    Grades 3–6

  6. National Geographic Education: Maps

    A rich resource for any classroom, this site offers a free map-making platform and downloadable maps. Access lesson plans like "Mapping World Heritage" where students explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, and "Geography of a Pencil," which traces the route from tree to trade to desktop.

    Grades K–12

  7. Global Oneness Project

    Using film, photography and the written word, this site aims to share universal stories across cultures and places. For example, students can explore "Counter Mapping," which involves challenging the colonial roots of traditional maps and instead using mapping to trace and record ceremony, song and connections to the land.

    Grades 3–12

  8. Barefoot World Atlas
    $6.99; Available in French

    A beautiful interactive map of the world teaches students about global cultures, landmarks and more. Students can be explorers, journeying to other continents or the heart of the ocean. Along the way, they'll encounter pictures, music, quizzes and spoken narratives to enrich their travels.

    Grades 3–6