Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lit Trips on Chromebooks with the New Google Earth

Google Lit Trips have been a popular learning activity for many years. With the new version of Google Earth, they are now available for Chromebooks!

If you are not familiar with them, a Lit Trip plots locations from a novel on Google Earth to create a 3D geographic tour of the story. At each location the Lit Trip can also include annotations, web links, images, videos, activities, and more, all related to that part of the story. This is a great way to put students in the story, helping them see where the events took place, and bring the story to life.

Lit Trips run in Google Earth, so unfortunately for years this has meant you could not run them on a Chromebook. Google Earth has always needed to be installed on a traditional computer, such as a Mac or PC.

However, Google has now released their new version of Earth which runs entirely inside of your Chrome web browser. This means Chromebooks can now run Google Earth, and take advantage of awesome activities such as Lit Trips.

See below for a brief video explaining how to do this, along with written directions and links.

Update: If you are interested in having you or your students create your own Lit Trips (or other tours), see my new blog post: Create your own Lit Trips (and more) for Google Earth and my 1-hour recorded webinar on "Google Tour Builder for any Subject".

Tutorial Video (14 minutes)

Step #1 - Download the Lit Trip

Even though the new version of Google Earth runs entirely in your browser, you will still need to begin by downloading a Lit Trip file.

  • Go to the Lit Trip website at http://www.googlelittrips.org
  • There you can browse the available Lit Trips to find one you would like to use. There are Lit Trips for all grades from K through 12.

You will now want to make the Lit Trip KMZ file available to your students. The easiest way would be to share it with them through Google Drive or through Google Classroom.

Step #2 - Go to Google Earth

You are now ready to launch Google Earth and load the Lit Trip.

Step #3 - Load the Lit Trip

To load the Lit Trip into Google Earth do the following:

  • On the left side of Google Earth, click the icon for "My Places".
  • Here you can import the KMZ file you downloaded. If you do not see the option to import the file, you will need to turn on that option in your settings.
  • Click "Enable KML import in settings" at the bottom of the window.

  • Slide the switch on for "Enable KML file import (experimental)" in the settings and click "Save".

  • Now you can click the "Import KML file" menu.
  • Choose "Open file" to choose the Lit Trip file from your hard drive.
  • Or choose "Open from Google Drive" if you have saved or shared the Lit Trip file through Drive (recommended for sharing the file with students).
  • Once you choose the file, the Lit Trip will be imported into Google Earth.

Steps #4 - Run the Lit Trip

You now will see the Lit Trip loaded into Google Earth. All of the locations from the story will be displayed in a list. Below are the basic points for running the Lit Trip.

  • Double click on any location in the list to fly to that location in Google Earth.
  • Click the "i" button next to a location name to pop open a description box for that story point.
  • The description box may contain text, images, videos, web links, activities, and more.

Tech Tip
: If the description box goes off the bottom of the screen, you may need to zoom out in Chrome to be able to see it completely. In the Chrome browser you can zoom out with Ctrl and - (minus) and can zoom back in with Ctrl and + (plus).

  • When viewing any location in the Lit Trip you can also use the Google Earth controls in the bottom right to zoom in, zoom out, move around the location, switch from 2D to 3D (or back), and more.
  • Continue through all of the Lit Trip locations to travel through and explore the entire story.


Having Google Earth available for Chromebooks opens up so many more options for engaging learning activities. Google Lit Trips are just one example of many to come. Lit Trips are a great for teachers to instruct with or for students to explore to make stories come alive, put the reader in the book, and extend the learning with additional resources.

Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+EricCurts1


  1. Thank you for the excellent tutorial! Very helpful :)

  2. This is wonderful Eric! Thank you!

  3. Thanks for opening up a new world for me and my students! Great tutorial! Can't wait to get started!