Monday, April 8, 2013

World War II Battle Maps

World War II Battle Maps

My students are just starting our unit on World War II. This is such a huge topic and there is a plethora of resources on the Web. One aspect of this conflict I like to show students is its global nature. Being able to see the mass impact this conflict had across the globe can help them get the sense of how large this war was. Google Earth works great as a resource or students and I to explore the geography of World War II.

I am a huge fan of Google Earth and Google Maps. I love using them to take my students on virtual field trips. I always make this a big deal with my students, zooming down to our school before we go on some trip somewhere to see the area we are currently studying. Getting a sense of location and geography can help facilitate our discussions to get a little deeper into understanding the complexity of global historical events.

If you are new to Google Earth, I would definitely point you to Google Earth Resources for Teachers. There are lots of tutorials and videos to help you get started. If you are interested in creating your own Google Earth Projects, check out this post from assortedStuff: Tech for Learning

KMZ files are files that you can download into Google Earth that somebody has created to use the different layers and features. Below I have listed some great KMZ files that are good to use with World War II. You will need to have Google Earth installed on your computer. It is both Mac and PC compatible. Click here if you need to install the program.

  1. WWII KMZ File: I really like this file. It is very comprehensive and organizes battles into Geographic Areas or Theaters of War. It can be a little overwhelming, but if you uncheck areas that you are not focusing on it can be a little easier to navigate. Each battle is linked to a Wikipedia Article that describes aspect of the battle. 
  2. Night by Elie Wiesel: If you are having students read this novel along with your study of WWII, this can be a great Geography link that highlights major areas in Wiesel's journey to Auschwitz. This is one of several Google Earth Virtual trips from Google LitTrips. There are lots of great resources worth looking at along with your Language Arts teacher. Some of the links on this file does lead to graphic material, so I would definitely preview before using with your students. Even if you are not reading the novel, but need a link to help students better understand the Holocaust this is a great resource. 
  3. Diary of Anne Frank: Like Night, this follows the story of Anne Frank and the horors of the Holocaust. If you are having students read this as part of your World War II unit or if you just want to view the Holocaust as part of WWII this can be a beneficial resource in Google Earth.
  4. Mapping the Holocaust: There are two KMZ layers (Timeline Layer and Holocaust Encyclopedia Layer) from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Some of the links does show graphic material, so please preview before using. I like showing students the locations of the various Ghettos and Concentration Camps to show patterns where they were located in Europe. 

Other Map Resources: These do not require Google Earth, but a Web Browser and Internet Connection.

1. HistoryAnimated: I am a big fan of HistoryAnimated. There are several great interactive Battle Maps that run off your Web Browser. I have used their Revolutionary War and Civil War Battle Maps. Students love them and so do I. They also are starting to build up their World War II Battle Maps, and they look phenomenal.
    • Battle of Britain: I just learned of this one today. It combines some real audio from the time along with some neat visual description of battle tactics. 
    • Europe Theatre: This looks fairly new, but seems that they will be adding others soon. 
    • Pacific Theatre: I have used the Battle of Iwo Jima along with selected scenes from WWII HD from the History Chanel to help students explore this battle in World War II. 
2. History Chanel Interactive Map: This is a very cool interactive map that has several different topics students can explore. There is a lot of information. I have had students explore the Nazi Expansion. Lots of images and information.

If you are looking for some other KMZ files for Google Earth for other topics, I would definitely check these out as these two sites as well.

What type of Geography/Map resources do you use? Would love to hear what others are using in the comment section below.

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