Inspiring locational writing using Google Street View

As with most recent posts I must start by recommending the great "Apps gone free," app for inspiring this post. This app has been a god send for schools working on a budget to find apps that for a limited time have gone free.

A couple of weeks ago an app caught my eye which looked like it could be very useful as a stimulus for writing. Panorama 360 cities (£1.49) allows users to upload their own panorama photos of places all over the world. Within the app, children can bring up these beautiful images and explore every inch and angle of a particular setting. Here is an example:

High tide mark. Gili Trawangan in Indonesia

Children can also create their own panorama style photos but I think the real potential for using this app in the classroom would be as a visual stimulus to inspire locational writing.

While this is a great app for free, I do believe it has now returned to full price. So an equally enjoyable and useful resource to use would be Google Street View.

Google maps allows you to drop the street view icon on to nearly street in the world and allows to see a panorama street level image. Alongside streets you can explore famous landmarks, natural wonders and even explore the inside of certain buildings. This can open a whole world of possibilities to where a story can be set and provides the children a visual image to base their writing. For some inspiration of where to visit click here and click here.

From an iPad children can investigate Google street view within the Google Earth app however this is limited compared to the version through a desktop PC. An example of one of the Google Street images can be seen here:

Within Google Maps, children can also further investigate nearby images that people have taken and uploaded to the site. The interactive approach from the panorama means children are able to navigate the picture to explore every part. This helps the children become more immersed in the setting. They will be able to then describe what they can see, hear, smell and feel more easily as the illusion makes the children feel that they are actually there.

I am forever using and promoting Alan Peat's approaches to developing writing in the classroom and this article from his website provides some perfect activities to help develop children's writing of settings while linking to these types of pictures. You can read the article here.

So next time you are wanting the children to really develop the setting within their story, use a panorama photo and inspire them to explore every inch and immerse themselves in the setting.


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