BY CHRISTOPHER PANNA

We’ve come a long way from the days of using a map to memorize the 50 states. With animation and narration, a map can show that geography doesn’t just sit there; it plays a role in shaping ideas and events. Try these animated maps to show the interplay between history and geography.

The Map as History: With a captivating British accent, the narrator sets the stage and the maps zoom around as pictures appear to illustrate events. The maps are about mostly modern European history, but they recently added series about the United States and Ancient Greece, and they’re working on more. The catch is that only a handful are available for free. However, the reasonable subscription rates would make it a good value for both your students and other teachers in your school.

Maps of War: Don’t be misled by the name; this site also has maps that illustrate the spread of religion and democracy from ancient times to the present. We’ve touched on Maps of War before, but it’s worth another look. This thematic design is great for showing a big picture view of history. And these maps are just as visually engaging, with colors and events appearing as the story advances.

Watching these animations will help your students see connections between places and events, as well as inspire them in some creative map making of their own. Give them a blank map and some tools -– as high-tech as an image editing program or as simple as a few colored pens -– and see what they produce.

The Map as History

Maps of War

Related stuff

Condense Centuries of Hostility into Ninety Seconds with Maps of War

Take a look at the past with historical maps on Google Maps and Google Earth

See who’s hating who at World Conflicts Today