As a Sketchup nerd I like to think of new and different ways I can use it in lessons, and look at how I can get most from the pupils when I do. While it is incredibly easy to link it to Maths, looking at measure, direction, etc, I often find it hard to give literacy links. Today though I used it as a story telling tool. Pupils were shown the model I had created (below) and we had a great discussion building a story around it. Using it as a setting we decided on characters, plot points and who to build the story around. The descriptive language when describing the castle was great, and having it on the board as a visual learning tool worked really well. The fact there was nothing else but the castle also helped the pupils with their writing. They had the castle, but they had to decide where it was and what its surroundings looked like. Lower ability pupils were able to come up to board and move around the castle, imagining themselves and the centre of the building, while Higher ability look it as a stimulus and wrote pages!

When talking with the class, and having all this discussion it made me think of Epic Citadel. It felt like I had built my own and was getting the same reaction from the kids. They we engaged and enthusiastic about exploring the castle in the same way they are when using the app. Obviously I know it is nowhere near the same level of detail or scale, however it opened up a whole world of opportunities. I could do the same thing on any number of worlds or settings, going from a sprawling city to a visit on a space station. All created by me, to my specification, to get what I want from the pupils. Yes, it might take  bit of time and practice, but save it and you have it there for any lesson in the future.

Why not try describing a stay in an Anderson Shelter, or describe life on a pirate ship. You could even try your very own classroom!


I seem to spend a good chuck of my life trawling the internet looking for useless rubbish I find cool. Well last night I came across a corker. Google Chrome have teamed up with the guys at Lego and create an amazing little web app.

It really is as simple as it sounds, start of with your blank board and you’re free to build anything and everything. At the moment I’m in love with all thing retro gaming, so I obviously started off by building some classic gaming characters (below). The app is easy to use, and involves the pupils using their mouse as well as several hot keys on the keyboard. Pupils of all ages should be able to pick it up in no time. The app is only available on Chrome at the moment as an extension, this could mean it isn’t accessible in all schools, so check on this 1st.  build with chrome copy

What makes it even cooler is the way it links with Google Earth in a similar way to Google Sketchup. Each one of your building boards is a small section for the Earth that becomes your plot. Some of the better examples have been small models of the Eiffel Tower in its correct location, maybe some of your class could build your school in Lego.

As with a box of real Lego, your imagination is the only barrier to what pupils can make, and given some free time on the app who knows what they could come up with! Think of all the learning advantages of Lego, but without standing on any of the see through pieces!


5Recently I started using Google Sketchup with my year 4 class. The found the initial tutorial process hard, and it took them a while to get to grips with the complexity of the tools, but after a few weeks they became more confident in their ability and started to be more creative.

The task I gave them was to create their own ancient Egyptian scene, complete with pyramid, desert landscape, and ancient artifacts. They loved the challenge and set about think of ways to create this in Sketchup. As I have said in a previous post you have to get into the Google Sketchup way of thinking, and they certainly did this!

We had a class discussion about which parts we should make ourselves, and which parts they thought we should use the Model Warehouse. They we incredibly mature, with some pupils arguing that ‘If they worked hard they could make that’. Amazing to see.

The topic was rich in ideas to use with the pupils, and I can see us continuing for a few weeks with it. What has been your favourite Sketchup project? Any ideas or questions?

I think it’s fair to say that I am a MASSIVE Google Sketchup fan. I try to use it with as many topics as I can,  and like to get my pupils started with it as soon as possible. As a teaching tool it is fantastic for motivating pupils and get them excited about ICT, they are mesmerized by the ease in which they can create 3D shapes. Due to its nature the program can be used in all manner of topic, from creating vivid art galleries of their work, recreating Viking villages, or designs for a new space station. It’s really is up to you how far, and in which direction, you want to take your pupils with it.


‘The Lego Bricks of learning’


Often to get pupils started I like to give them something the love. A Lego Brick. We loved them, parents love them (except when the get stood on) and our kids will love them. this little brick of coloured plastic can provide that real and tactile connection with the work on their screens.

They key factor in having the pupils create model Lego brick is the tools they use. It touches on most of the features, and uses them in a nice and simple way. It basically sets them up for using the product in future. Get the pupils to snap the top circle the same height, use the rendering tool, add 3D text, all useful in future projects.

The Google Sketchup way of thinking


When my pupils come into a Sketchup lesson they know that they have to change their mind-set. They know they should start thinking differently about their work. When trying to create something, or trying to add something they know that they are not going to get it looking prefect, but should aim for something that looks similar. Pupils can get easily bogged down in trying to achieve perfection in their models and miss out.

If you haven’t used Google Sketchup in the classroom yet give it a go, but be prepared to do some homework, it’s tricky for teachers to learn, never mind pupils! Before long your pupils will be creating wonderful graphic models really to be explored and manipulated.


A model of our ICT suite created by Year 6 pupils

Below I have included a lesson plan and accompanying PowerPoint for your 1st lesson teaching the topic. Any questions or hints please get in touch.

1st Sketchup Lesson Plan

1st Sketchup Lesson PPT

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