ALEX Lesson Plan


Jet, Set, Go! Travel Google Earth in Ben's Dream

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Christina Green
System: Vestavia Hills City
School: East Elementary
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 31113


Jet, Set, Go! Travel Google Earth in Ben's Dream


This lesson uses the picture book by Chris Van Allsburg Ben’s Dream with Google Earth to highlight ten major landmarks of the world. After reading and discussing Ben’s Dream, students "travel" to each location using the free software Google Earth. Students will then be put into small groups by the teacher to research one specific landmark using the tools available on Google Earth (i.e., snapshots, Wikipedia links, etc.). Using their research skills, students locate these famous landmarks, conduct further research on them, and share that information with the class.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
TC2 (K-2)
4. Identify safe use of technology systems and applications.
Examples: protecting personal information online, avoiding inappropriate sites, exiting inappropriate sites
ELA2015 (2)
27. Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations). [W.2.7]
ELA2015 (2)
28. Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. [W.2.8]
SS2010 (1) Living and Working Together in Family and Community and State
8. Identify land masses, bodies of water, and other physical features on maps and globes.
  • Explaining the use of cardinal directions and the compass rose
  • Measuring distance using nonstandard units
  • Example: measuring with pencils, strings, hands, feet
  • Using vocabulary associated with geographical features, including river, lake, ocean, and mountain
  • SS2010 (2) Living and Working Together in State and Nation
    6. Identify states, continents, oceans, and the equator using maps, globes, and technology.
  • Identifying map elements, including title, legend, compass rose, and scale
  • Identifying the intermediate directions of northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest
  • Recognizing technological resources such as a virtual globe, satellite images, and radar
  • Locating points on a grid
  • SS2010 (3) Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
    1. Locate the prime meridian, equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of Cancer, International Date Line, and lines of latitude and longitude on maps and globes.
  • Using cardinal and intermediate directions to locate on a map or globe an area in Alabama or the world (Alabama)
  • Using coordinates to locate points on a grid
  • Determining distance between places on a map using a scale
  • Locating physical and cultural regions using labels, symbols, and legends on an Alabama or world map (Alabama)
  • Describing the use of geospatial technologies
  • Examples: Global Positioning System (GPS), geographic information system (GIS)
  • Interpreting information on thematic maps
  • Examples: population, vegetation, climate, growing season, irrigation
  • Using vocabulary associated with maps and globes, including megalopolis, landlocked, border, and elevation
  • SS2010 (3) Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
    2. Locate the continents on a map or globe
  • Using vocabulary associated with geographical features of Earth, including hill, plateau, valley, peninsula, island, isthmus, ice cap, and glacier
  • Locating major mountain ranges, oceans, rivers, and lakes throughout the world (Alabama)
  • Local/National Standards:


    1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

    2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

    3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

    4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

    5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

    6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

    7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

    8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

    11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

    12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will:

    1.Understand the concept of fact versus fiction, i.e., Ben's experience in a fictional story depicting factual places

    2. Observe and locate the landmarks on a world map.

    3. Research landmarks and present information to classmates.

    4. Understand the concept of distance as related to one landmark to another.

    5. Synthesize information gathered in research on a landmark into a project format

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    Students will

    1. Draw conclusions based upon the global location of the landmarks.

    2. Experience the "flight" of Ben's travel through Google Earth

    3. Demonstrate listening skills and ability to follow instructions

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Ben's Dream, by Chris van Allsburg

    World Map


    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computers with Internet connection (preferably high-speed)

    Interactive Whiteboard

    Google Earth installed on computer

    Google Earth tour of Ben's Dream

    If possible, to ease Internet navigation for students, a webpage already linked to the tour of Ben's Dream


    Make copies of the world map for students.

    Locate books with pictures or illustrations of the landmarks mentioned in Ben's Dream, or print some additional pictures from the Internet.

    Make each student a copy of the World Map and BensDreamTour.pdf




    1. Read Ben's Dream by Chris Van Allsburg to students, showing all of the illustrations as you read the story aloud.

    2. At the end of the book, discuss the landmarks visited as a class.

    3. The teacher will show students the virtual tour of Ben's dream via Google Earth.

    4. After this reading of the story, go back and provide the students with the official name of each of the landmarks.

    5. Pass out the BensDreamTour.pdf handout and using the list, help students name the landmarks that are illustrated in Ben's Dream.

    6. Invite students to share more about these landmarks now that they are named.


    Day 2:

    Separate students into small groups of three or four.  The teacher can pre-assign or randomly assign each group a landmark. Give students access to the Google Earth tour and a copy of Landmark_Research_Notes.pdf.

    The students should utilize the resources available on Google Earth (i.e., boundaries, snapshots, places of interest) to answer as many questions as possible.

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    Assessment Strategies

    Students can be assesed with a rubric, such as the following:




    Students can work together to create a Google Earth tour similar to Ben's Dream (this involves dropping "pins" on each landmark). In their class book, students can highlight points of interest in their community or state.


    Designate a job for each group member if they are unable to agree on responsibilities independently. The teacher can accommodate these tasks to the ability level of each individual student.

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.