One of my favorite alternatives to traditional book report assignments is having students create multimedia maps based on books they’ve read. Google Lit Trips first made that idea popular more than a decade ago. Of course, creating a multimedia map is also an excellent way for students to summarize and geo-locate a series of related historical events. Here are five tools that students can use to create and tell stories with maps.

Google Earth – Desktop Version
The desktop version of Google Earth provides one of the classic ways to create a map-based, multimedia story. Students can add pictures, text, and videos to the placemarkers in their Google Earth tours. And students can use the built-in recording tools to make tours that viewers can watch on their own. Here’s a short overview of how to make a Google Earth tour. Check out Google Lit Trips for ideas on using Google Earth for literature lessons.


Google Earth – Web Browser Version
While it still doesn’t have quite as many options as the desktop version, the browser version of Google Earth does now have tools for making your multimedia tours.



VR Tour Creator
Google’s VR Tour Creator lets anyone make a virtual reality tour that can be played back in your web browser and or in the Google Expeditions app. Don’t limit use of VR Tour Creator to geography lessons. You can have students use it to make virtual reality book tours. Here’s an introduction to using VR Tour Creator.

ESRI Story Maps
ESRI Story Maps is a tool that you can use to create a variety of map-based stories. The basic ESRI Story Map lets you combine pictures and locations to playback as a series of slides. Here’s a good example of an ESRI Story Map.

Storymap JS
Storymap JS offers a nice way for students to create stories in which slides are matched to locations on a map. Here’s an overview of how it works. StoryMap JS can be used by students to tell all kinds of stories including, as demonstrated below, personal stories that are connected to locations.



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