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Explore Graphic Design with Google Maps activity

Graphic design is the art of using words, images, color, and layout to convey powerful messages and captivate audiences. From the signs that guide us on the street to the logos of our favorite brands, graphic design is everywhere, influencing how we perceive the world around us. In this activity, students will explore the exciting world of graphic design, delve into its role in conveying messages, distinguish it from traditional art, and engage in an activity that encourages them to discover graphic design elements in the world around them using Google Maps' street view.

Google Maps street view icon

There are several advantages for students to study graphic design. First, it helps them learn how to communicate better by showing them how to use pictures and organization to get their point across. Many jobs need this kind of knowledge. Second, it helps students think critically and be creative, which helps them find new ways to solve problems. Third, it improves their digital knowledge by giving them skills that will be useful in school and on the job market.


Start by explaining what graphic design is to your kids. Explain that graphic design is the art of using words, pictures, colors, and structure to communicate ideas and messages. Use logos, signs, book covers, movie posters, and product labels as easy-to-understand examples to help students understand what graphic design is all about. Ask kids to look around the classroom and find examples of graphic design. Make it clear that not all design is graphic design. For example, the tables and chairs in the room are designed, but their main purpose is functional, not to send a message. On the other hand, there should be clear examples of graphic design in the room such as signs, book covers, bulletin boards, and worksheets.

Engage your kids in a conversation about the role of graphic design in getting messages across clearly. Point out that design elements like colors, styles, fonts, and symbols are very important for appealing to specific audiences. Use the three examples in the slideshow of birthday cards, movie posters, and book covers. Encourage kids to think about who each design is meant to attract. Then, help them figure out how the design elements, such as color choices, layout, fonts, and symbols, are carefully chosen to fit the intended audience and send specific messages.

Talk to your kids about what the differences are between art and graphic design. Show that even though both have visual elements, they serve different goals. Art often tries to make people feel something and get them to think about it, while graphic design focuses on being clear and getting particular messages across. The difference is well explained in the linked movie in the presentation. As a class, discuss the examples on the slides after the video slide and decide which images are art and which are graphic design and why.

To kick off the Google Maps activity, ask each student to choose a place that is important to them in some way. Make sure they choose places where they are likely to find lots of graphic design examples. Urban areas work much better than rural areas. Once they've picked their city, have them zoom in and drop the little person icon into the city to go to street view. Then, they can use the mouse to move around the city and look for graphic design examples. Tell them to take a screenshot when they find something interesting. You can use the tutorial in the presentation slideshow and in the tools to demonstrate how to use Google Street View, find examples of graphic design, and take screenshots.

Create a shared Google Slideshow for the entire class. Each student should choose one slide and write the name of their selected city at the top. They’ll paste their examples of graphic design they found during their virtual exploration onto their slide. This collaborative approach encourages students to learn from each other's findings. After the scavenger hunt, have students share their findings with the class. Encourage them to discuss the different examples they found and engage in a conversation about whether some instances could be considered art rather than graphic design.


Graphic design has a rich history. Throughout history, people have found creative ways to share their thoughts and ideas, starting with the earliest cave paintings. We can see this in different ancient texts like the Bible, the Quran, and old Chinese stamps. Gutenberg's invention of the printing press revolutionized the way information was shared and made it available to a wider audience. It also made presenting information in a compelling manner more important.

In 1922, the word "graphic design" was first used. As a book designer, Dwiggins came up with the term to describe how he put together and handled pictures in his books. After this, there were new styles in Graphic Design, such as Art Deco and Pop Art. In the 1990s, Photoshop and other digital tools made it possible for a lot more people to use Graphic Design techniques.




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