Common Sense


Tools for Making and Editing Maps

Making, editing, and using maps helps students develop spatial-thinking skills that carry over into other subjects like math and science. As they begin to see the relationships between the places and spaces around them, students will find it easier to visualize difficult concepts and make connections. By making their own maps, students apply knowledge spatially and visually, weaving geographical stories. This helps students understand how geography and space -- and the way we represent these things -- communicate and shape our societies, cultures, and histories. To immerse students in maps and mapmaking, check out these apps and websites that'll get students annotating points of interest, pinning photos to locations, creating virtual field trips, sharing creations with others, and more.  

Continue reading

Top Picks


PrintPrint | Save as PDF

Apps and Websites for Mapmaking

Google Lit Trips

Google Earth-powered tours explore how stories and geography connect

Bottom line: With some initial fiddling, this can be a good option to increase student interest in -- and add depth to -- literary study.

GooseChase EDU

Digital scavenger hunts provide dynamic, fresh learning experiences

Bottom line: Students and teachers will enjoy the powerful learning of a modern scavenger hunt.

Esri GeoInquiries

Captivating, focused map activities support larger curricular lessons

Bottom line: These inquiry-based activities are a valuable visual and investigative resource for teachers and students in many different subjects.


"Just one more turn" gameplay jazzes up geography

Bottom line: Game-based platform is a great way to get kids interested in world geography, think critically, and expose them to cultures other than their own.

Google Maps

Hugely popular mapping tool has tons of learning potential

Bottom line: This familiar tool can go beyond here to there and take kids to new educational destinations.


Pro-oriented storytelling and mapping tool has classroom potential

Bottom line: Getting comfortable with StoryMapJS will require some focus, but students who take the time will gain a new perspective on digital storytelling.


Collect images in the field with simple, collaborative app

Bottom line: An easy way to crowdsource location-based data.

Apps and Websites for Design

The Noun Project

Think in pictures with vibrant visual language everyone can understand

Bottom line: It's a neat, well-executed concept with lots of possibilities for learning, imagining, and creating.

Skitch - Snap. Mark Up. Send.

Add a hint of fun to note-taking or annotating images

Bottom line: It's easy to annotate images and screenshots, take handwritten notes, and organize it all with Evernote.

Grafio 3 - Diagram Maker

Flexible app transforms sketches into pro-level designs and diagrams

Bottom line: A terrific choice for creating simple diagrams or presentations on iOS.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources