Lesson Plan

Place-Based Historical Narratives

Students use Google MyMaps to create stories that bring the past to life
Kelly A.
Classroom teacher
Ladue Middle School
St. Louis, United States
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
Digitial Citizenship and EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • conduct and organize research that establishes historical context for narrative writing
  • write narratives to develop imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 6 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Preview

Have your students post their responses to the following prompt in Google Classroom: “In less than 100 words, tell a story about a place that you have an emotional connection to.”

Tell your students that their location needs to be specific, like a house or a restaurant (not a whole town). Remind your students that their post should be a story, , not an introduction - they should focus on a single event and tell the beginning, middle, and end of what happened there. If you’d like to give your students an extra challenge, tell them that they may not use their own house as their location.

2 Guided Practice

Create a blank map in Google MyMaps and share it with your students before you begin the activity. After you’ve done step 1, show your students how to search for a location and place it on the map using MyMaps. Show your students how to edit the title of the location and add notes to the pin.

Have students share their location stories from Step 1 in the same map. Give students plenty of time to view their classmates’ pins and play around with the features of MyMaps. You’ll want to make sure your students can add pins to the map (by searching and by placing the pin manually), add notes and links to their pins, and customize the appearance of their pin.

3 Brainstorm + Research

Free, Paid
Free, Paid
Google Drive
Free, Paid

Have your students adopt a historical role for their project. A good frame to use is, “I am a ________ living in ________ in the year _______.” A finished description might be, “I am a black teenager living in Harlem, New York City in the year 1924,” or, “I am a young girl living in a wagon on the Oregon Trail in the year 1857.” You might have students draw roles, choose roles based on what they are studying in their social studies classes, or simply allow students to define and pursue roles that are interesting to them.


Next, have your students research the history and important locations related to their role. To keep their research organized, your students might use Coggle, Google Drive, or Evernote - all offer different ways of organizing and accessing information. You should define how many locations your students should include on their map before the project begins - consider your students’ needs and your own class pacing.


As your students research locations for their map, they can begin developing their stories for each location. If your students get stuck, here are some guiding questions you might ask them:

  • Where is your home base? Where is your school? Your work? Where do you hang out?
  • What do you do at these different locations? Who do you see?

4 Publish + Share

After your students have thoroughly researched their roles and constructed their place-based narratives, they can create their personal map. After students are finished, they could share their maps in many ways. They might share links in Google Classroom, or present their maps on a projector or interactive whiteboard. I’ve found that my students appreciate having time to click and read their classmates’ maps with the “Satellite” view enabled in MyMaps, so that they can see the stories come to life in their real locations.