Smarty Pins – Google Maps, Geography Trivia, And Video Games (History Tech #23)

smarty pins moscowDo you ever wish that your students were as excited about maps and geography as they are about video games?  Well, your wish might come true if you introduce them to Google’s new Smarty Pins. (Get it? Smarty Pants – Smarty Pins? You nutty Google engineers!)  Smarty Pins is basically a simple trivia game that asks questions with geo-tagged answers using the Google Maps interface.

You can play the default game which asks random questions from all of the six different categories. But you can also select a specific category that lets you focus on just what you want.  Join Glenn as he shares ways that Smarty Pins and the other games listed below can be used in the social studies classroom.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 4.09.48 PMTry the very cool and fun Traveler IQ. Traveler IQ is a fun, easy-to-use online geography review game with 12 different versions – from world locations to photos to flags and a US challenge.

This fun geography app is a bit like Traveler IQ. It includes an atlas and eight games with high resolution maps. Interactive and fun, Geomaster puts your geography knowledge to the test. More than 40 levels featuring world capitals, European countries, Asian countries, African countries, South American countries, US cities and states.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 4.05.24 PMOne game that was released earlier this year is called GeoGuessr – same sort of idea as Pursued. You are given access to a Google Maps StreetView somewhere in the world and using contextual clues, you have to guess where you are at. You are awarded points for how close your guess is to the actual spot.

stack statesStack the States
As you learn state capitals, shapes, geographic locations and more, you can actually touch, move and drop the animated states anywhere on the screen. Carefully build a stack of states that reaches the checkered line to win each level. As you earn more states, you unlock the three free bonus games: Pile Up, Puzzler and Capital Drop.

stack countriesStack the Countries
Same idea as Stack the States but with countries and continents.
Both of these apps have free and paid versions and are available in iPod and iPad versions.

Glenn recently wrote about a very cool game called Pursued that takes advantage of the StreetView option in Google Earth. It’s a great way for you to trains kids to ask questions, use visual clues, think spatially, become comfortable with geography tools, create mental maps, and solve problems all while having a good time.

GeoNetan online game from Houghton Mifflin Social Studies, asks kids to select a region or continent. It then quizzes them on spatial information and questions using the five themes of geography. If kids answer correctly, they get a popup offering more info.

National Geographic: Kids Geography Games. The National Geographic website has always been a valuable teaching tool and now offers a variety of geography games for kids. I really like GeoBeeGo West with Lewis and Clark, and CritterCam: African Adventure.

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