Google in the Primary Classroom

Over the last two years I have been working on finding ways to engage my students in learning activities using Google. Making the switch to a Grade 1 classroom really made me stop and think about how I could use this technology effectively. Here is one of my, and my students, favourite activities from last year....making a math map of our school!!

We completed this activity at the end of the year but I think it makes a great beginning of the year activity for a number of reasons:

1. students work together as a class (woohoo to working towards building a community of learners)
2. students walk through the school, learning more about their physical surroundings
3. students develop their understanding that math is everywhere
4. students work on developing math questions, not just answering them
5. students can share their work....with classes in their school or around the world!!!

We were inspired to create a math map of our school after we watched "A Virtual Math Trail". This was an interactive video (provided by our Board and province) that showed students walking to the park. Along the way they would stop and ask a math question based on something that they had encountered on the walk.

This video inspired us to make a "Math Map" of our school. We went on a walk through our school as a class. We stopped at key locations that I pre-selected and ones that students found during our walk. At each location I took pictures (unfortunately we do not have tablets or ipads, so I took pictures with my device). I took several pictures at each location and had students point out what they thought the picture should show.

Each student had a clipboard, paper and pencil. Each location was given a number. They wrote down the number and a potential math question. Their ideas were jotted down, they were just meant to give us a starting point for when we were putting our work together in class.

When we returned to class we created a Google Slides presentation. We created a title slide....
Math Trail by Room 100 with a picture of our class in front of our school (clipboards in hand!)

We started our presentation at the front of our school


We started off with a simple question. I inserted the picture into a slide and students took turns sharing their ideas for questions for the picture.


Many times we used the photo more than once so that we could include questions from different students or groups of students. Once students shared their idea we would work together to "bump up" the question...add a second question, make the question more challenging etc.


We took pictures in other classrooms as well as common areas. We went in classrooms when the students were outside or in the gym or library. Since we wanted to share our presentation with other classes we thought this would be a fun way to engage them in our presentation.


Since we hoped to share our presentation with a number of classes we made sure the questions could be addressed by different grade levels. Another idea would be to allow the other classes not just to comment with their answers but ask them to write their own questions and send the presentation back to you. They could include their questions and answers in the comments section or they could make a copy of your presentation, rename it with their class number and share it with you.


Some of questions were so much fun....we answered them ourselves, so we could show and share our thinking!!

This project has us working together, talking about math, pushing our thinking and smiling.

I think this would be a great beginning of the year activity for any elementary classroom. I completed it with my Grade 1 and 2 class but it could be adapted for any grade. I think it would be a great activity to do with learning buddies, as a review of math concepts or a way for students to show what they know.

We completed this activity with one tablet, one classroom computer and our whiteboard projector (and paper, pencil and clipboards!!). I would love to have been able to give groups of students tablets or ipads to take their own pictures and record their thinking....but we don't have that technology. This worked well for us and the students were highly engaged in developing the questions for each picture. Another option would be to create the slide show and share it with each student/pairs/groups (we use Google Classroom) and have them create their own questions.

We created our slide show to share with other classes in our school but it could also be shared with electronic pen pals or classrooms around the world.

Here is a great video showing this concept being used in an older class and with a walk in the community:



The Illuminations website offers a beginning Math Trail for grades 3-5 using pictures from Mackinac Island in Michigan.

Here is a great article of how and why math trails are a great idea for any classroom. They use it more as a map, you answer the math questions to follow the map which adds another level to the work!

If you are thinking of making a Math Trail through your school and are looking to share your work with a primary classroom I would love to hook up with you and your class!!

Google in the Primary Classroom


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