Google Earth Lessons

An Educational Resource for Teachers

Quia comes to Google Earth!

This is a quick, easy trick for making Google Earth even more fun and interactive for your students! (Windows Only, Latest Version of Google Earth Required)

If you have never heard of it before, is a neat teacher resource site that has thousands of free activities, many of which are Flash based. It is that Flash content that is now able to be viewed and interacted with inside placemark balloons within Google Earth. makes their money by selling annual licenses which allows teachers to create a wide range of custom interactive web-based activities and system scored, quizes, surveys, etc. Most of the activities are either Java or html based and can't be migrated into Google Earth, but the Flash based ones can be! It is super cool!

The four types of activities are:

  • Battleship (I would suggest this for students 8 and older)
  • Challenge Board (A great Jeopardy clone)
  • Rags to Riches (a 'Who wants to be a Millionaire' clone that the kids love!)
  • Hangman (for reinforcing vocabulary)

The best part is, start to finish, you can create a fully interactive balloon activity in under two minutes! Here's how...

Step 1. For me this is the hardest part, finding a freebie that fits with my curriculum. Go to the shared activities section of (link opens a new window). Browse through the listings until you find one you like. These are activities created by teachers from around the world and come in many languages, some are even referenced by the textbook they are based on. When you find an activity you like, keep it open. (you can also subscribe to or use your existing Quia account, create your own customized activity and then add the activity to your class page and access it that way)

Step 2. Under the 'View' menu of your web browser pull down to 'Source' or 'View Source'


Step 3. A new window will pop open filled with all sorts of code and complicated stuff. Don't worry, you don't need to understand it. Just use the Search, or Find (usually under the 'Edit', 'File' or 'Search' menu) function.


Step 4. Type in '.swf' and click Find or OK.

find .swf

Step 5. The first one it finds is the one you want. It is in a huge, long line of code that begins with <OBJECT and ends with </OBJECT>. Highlight and copy that entire long line of code.

object start here::to:::hereobject close

Step 6. In Google Earth create a new placemark where it makes the most sense for your particular topic. In the 'Description' window paste the entire string of OBJECT code.

paste in description window

Step 7. In the resulting mess you will need to find two instances of the abbreviated web address of the flash activity beginning with the /flash/... Manually type in the Quia URL '' before the slash in front of 'flash'.

Find and alter code with full URL

Step 8. Add any titles or instructions you want for the students (either before or after the <OBJECT> stuff) and click OK! It is THAT easy!

final product

You are now ready to show or share the activity with your students!

Rest assured, this is 100% OK with Quia! I sent them an email asking if it violated their "Terms and Conditions of Use" and got a quick, friendly note back saying that it was perfectly alright but that the quality would be better linking to the actual activity page. They are right about that. In Google Earth the text is a little moooshed up looking, but everything works just great!

If your administration needs confirmation that Quia allows the use, just drop me a note at david(AT) (where the (AT) is, of course, replaced with the @ symbol, dang I hate having to worry about spam!) and I will forward you the email.