Anne Walker

Prince William County Public Schools

Grade Level: Upper Elementary & Secondary

Subject: History, Geography, Language Arts

Lesson Time: 2 – 3 hours

Essential Question: How is Virginia a land of democracy, diversity and opportunity?


  • SWBAT demonstrate how to use technology with the Virginia History Trails app.
  • SWBAT demonstrate an understanding of geography and technology by utilizing Google Earth.
  • SWBAT categorize places of historical significance.




Introduce the Virginia History Trails app by showing students the introductory video. Ask students to brainstorm areas of historic significance in Virginia. Depending on where your school is located,  answers may include some of the better-known tourist attractions like Williamsburg, Jamestown, Roanoke, Monticello, and Mount Vernon. To pique student interest you should preselect a couple of lesser-known destinations from the app (for example, the Bray School in Williamsburg or the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton). Challenge students to name any tourist attractions near where they live.

Direct Instruction

Introduce students to the app by having them click on the “Near Me” tab and selecting a teacher determined site. Guide students through exploring the information given for the site, including the icons at the top of the page (the check mark indicates a visit to the site, the heart icon adds the site to the individual’s list of favorites, the arrow icon would be used to share a site through AirDrop), the summary, and website.

Guided Practice

Provide students time to explore the “Near Me” tab, practicing adding sites to their favorites. Encourage them to share places of interest that show up.

Questions to answer:

  • Were you surprised by any places listed?
  • What nearby attractions would you add to the app?

Independent Practice

Students will work with a partner to create and present a specialized tour to the class. Assign each student group a specific themed trail within the Virginia History Trails app to explore, for example, Civil Rights or American Revolution. Students will select an assigned number of places that they would encourage their classmates to visit and use the website/additional information to gain access to photographs and further information on the site. Have students add images, videos, and links on their interactive maps.

Students can use Google Earth or Google Maps to create an interactive map of important Virginia sites. For detailed instructions on creating a tour using Google Earth and Google Maps, check out:

Implementation Notes

Teacher may choose to adapt this lesson to align to a specific topic. For example, when teaching the American Revolution, students may be assigned to map a number of sites related to the American Revolution.

This lesson is easily adapted for small groups and/or independent work.  There are 20 categories for students to explore so there would be little overlap.

Virginia History Trails App

Virginia has hundreds of museums and historic places and thousands of historic markers. How do you sift through them all to find the stories that interest you? You hit the trails— the Virginia History Trails. They are easy to find and easy to follow. And with 20 trails containing 400 stories, the Virginia History Trails are easy to love.

Virginia blazed a trail that America followed. Which makes Virginia’s history your history.

And the smartest way to explore your history is through Virginia History Trails.